April 23, 2014
Abraão Ferreira, fashion and luxury consultantSaturday, December 21, 2013
Sense of fashion
Abraão Ferreira visited his best friend for three months 10 years ago, but after staying a year then going back to Brazil, the fashion and luxury consultant realized he missed BA, and returned with a student visa. He lives in Chacarita, and has a diverse group of friends, who almost seem like the United Nations.
It’s been a decade since the Brazilian fashion and luxury consultant first visited Argentina, but Abraão Ferreira quickly made its capital his home. He says: “I was trying to go abroad from Brazil, and my best friend was living here so I came to visit him for three months in Nuñez. I studied Spanish at Lenguas Vivas, and I stayed for a year then returned to Brazil. I come from the north of Brazil, from a very different city to Buenos Aires, which is so cosmopolitan and has a lot of culture. At that time, the country was coming out of the 2001 crisis — a lot was going on. And I realized there were also a lot of opportunities here.
“As my Spanish improved, I started to work, so I taught English to businessmen, while I would use the afternoons studying for me and learning about the city. Back then, I lived in a hostel in Congreso as that was what I could afford.”
What was key for Abraão was new experiences. “It was very close to Brazil and I had friends coming to visit, while others would ask me what could be done here and there, so I would host my friends or rent an apartment for them — they trusted me as I knew the city. It was like a sabbatical year for me — I learned a lot and I improved a lot.
“So while I was improving my Spanish and needed to earn a living, I did other jobs that I could do, such as working in a call-centre. But after that year here, when I went back to Brazil, I realized that I loved Buenos Aires so I came back.”
With a desire to continue studying and improving, he obtained a student visa and started a two-year degree in multimedia and event production at University of Belgrano. “That’s where I met Manuela Vidal Rivas, Buenos Aires Fashion Week’s founder’s daughter. I didn’t know that at the time as she was a classmate. But I’d go to BAFWeek, for example, and I’d have journalist friends coming to cover it from Brazil, so I could put them in touch with the right people, even though I wasn’t working in fashion at the time. And that’s how it all started for me.”
Although he is a fashion and luxury consultant now and travels frequently to Europe for shows, presenting Argentine designers, Abraão says it wasn’t that easy to break into the industry. “Not at first, because in fashion there are a lot of egos and you have to be part of it. I really tried to get jobs but in the early days my Spanish wasn’t very good, plus people didn’t know me. But by being in the right places at the right time back in 2004 and 2005 and by being a sociable person, it worked out. A lot of things were happening when I came here, and the whole country wanted to get out of the crisis so there was a lot of creativity at the time. And maybe I had a different point of view that they wanted to listen to. I developed my career and speak five languages, and I think people value that wherever you are. So Argentina gave me the opportunity to show what I could really do. But I too was looking for a different point of view, a new country, new people, new culture.
“I’d always thought I’d do an exchange between Argentine and Brazilian fashion. It’s taken 10 years to do it, but it’s happening now and I’m very happy about that.”
THE BRAZILIAN GRINGO
Although to the uneducated eye, Brazilians and Argentines might seem similar on the surface, Abraão says there isn’t that much in common between the two people. In fact, he says that one of the reasons that he fits in so well to a BA lifestyle is that he isn’t a typical Brazilian man.
He says: “I’m a very different kind of Brazilian — I don’t like soccer, or samba, I barely go to the beach and carnival isn’t my thing. I’m much more into culture and beauty, a different side of social life. When I go back to Brazil now, I’m like a gringo!
“But people have always been really friendly to me here, because they love Brazil and although the two countries are rivals, they love the sound of Portuguese and are open to being friends, and that was very important for me. There aren’t many similarities between the two, only soccer I think! Given that we have bossa nova and Argentina has tango, which is so melancholic, that says a lot. And despite all the problems my country has, we never talk about them — we like to talk about positive things. But I was embraced by Argentina, though, so I’d say both are very friendly people.”
One difference that has stood out is the macho culture. “It’s very male-oriented here, the whole culture is directed towards them. There’s a brotherhood between men but I think Brazilians are more open-minded. Argentina is the gay capital of South America, yet no one is gay. Men are embarrassed to be gay, and they’d rather say they are a chico de barrio than admit to being gay. In Sao Paulo, for example, there are gay areas, there is gay everywhere. But here, as they need to be male, society is macho.
“But what was shocking was not seeing black people here. I always joke that I’m the only black guy in Argentina. Little kids ask to take their photo with me, and I’m sure they’ve never had any contact with black people. That was shocking because I’m from a city where there are black people everywhere so although BA is a more international city, the variety of identities is not.”
A day in the life of Abraão means he is often scheduling meetings. “Tomorrow I have a meeting with an Argentine brand that wants to expand into Europe, for example. I’m always working on new projects, so I’m on the phone to Sao Paulo and Paris, working with different designers. If it’s Fashion Week, I’ll go to three shows a day and meet the designers — part of my work is to take them abroad so I need to know what they’re doing — and see their collections. I also like to care of my home as I’m away such a lot, and I like to go to the theatre or to an exhibition. It’s important to be in contact with the city.”
Given his outgoing nature and the his chosen career, naturally Abraão’s circle of friends is an international one, and he loves throwing parties. “We have a Brazilian community here, and one of my close friends is Anama Ferreira who was a model and runs a modelling school. I have a lot of friends from Europe as I also studied in Paris. People always say my parties are like the United Nations because we speak so many languages at them! Its very fun, and I like this mixture. My friends are from fashion, French or yoga class, from when I stayed at the hostel, from university, and I have a lot of Argentine friends too.”
Abraão has travelled around Argentina substantially, and loved being in Salta in particular. “I also come from the north but it’s a different north. We like to visit bodegas so I love that part. We went to Colomé winery one time and the James Turrell museum is so beautiful. For my own peace of mind, I like to escape the crazy city when I can. Wherever I go, I always buy a poncho for my collection — my favourite is a black poncho from Mendoza that goes down to the floor. I wore it to the Ritz in Paris for my birthday once, when I was going through a gaucho phase.”
Of all the neighbourhoods he’s lived in — Nuñez, Villa Crespo, San Telmo, Palermo, Chacarita — he says San Telmo was a great experience: “I was more bohemian then and I was living a different time of my life. But more is happening in Palermo, with bars and restaurants opening all the time. As I always have an eye for the new, I think Palermo is very fun. I don’t buy much here but I like shopping at Kostume and Tramando.
“In Chacarita, I live in a very quiet street and I like the fact that I’m five blocks away from everything I like. I don’t want to be in the middle of everything in Palermo. This isn’t a fancy neighbourhood, but it’s more like the real culture. Some people only think you’re ‘someone’ if you live on Libertador Avenue, but I don’t think like that — for me, it’s about being a part of where you are.”
From: Belem, Brazil
Lives in: Chacarita
Profession: Fashion and luxury consultant
Education: A degree as an English and Portuguese teacher, an MBA in luxury brand marketing and international management
Reading: A biography on Catherine the Great
Last film seen: Blue Jasmine
Gadget: My Flip camera