Kinks aside, I was delighted to be invited to Itaú MoWeek, a unique fashion event in my native Montevideo, the capital city of Uruguay. The event was compact – appropriate for a country of just over 3m people – but perfectly staged, with some of the key beauty and fashion international brands you would expect (think L’Oreal, Sedal, Phillips, etc) and a hand-picked selection of upcoming Uruguayan designers. The catwalk shows were inspirational, but my focus was on the talk by Veronica Massonier on market trends.
The first trend is clear, Uruguayans are consuming fashion, and not just clothes, at a speed never seen before. This increase in consumption is partly due to the increase in purchasing power (a result of the country’s recent economic growth) but also, explained Massonier, a result of an increased enjoyment of buying, an improvement of the buying experience beyond the actual objects. The influence of global media and new influencers such as bloggers was also mentioned. And although women are still the biggest consumers of fashion, men are catching up, although they are more likely to buy once a season rather than throughout the season, as women do.
Massonier also explained that although Uruguayans are consuming a lot of “fast fashion”, they are also consuming aspirational brands. They also mix retailers: from shopping centres to street markets, from ecommerce to small independent boutiques.
One question I was particularly interested in was around sustainable fashion. Massonier agrees with me in that sustainability is not yet a priority for the Uruguayan consumer, who is watching the trend but not yet ready to pay a price for it. However, one great point she mentioned was the importance of sustainability to create a link with the consumer, which is valued.
Finally, Massonier mentioned that “working in fashion is in fashion” – I personally think this can open up plenty of opportunities for UK specialist training providers who can develop links with local partners. I have seen Italian and French fashion schools doing it already…
I will leave you with just three facts to get you thinking about opportunities…
– GAP has now opened its first store in Uruguay and is close to opening its second
– Uruguay borders Argentina and Brazil – and welcomes a huge number of tourists from both countries every year
– Punta del Este, also in Uruguay, is considered South America’s most premium seaside resort – and the perfect spot to showcase luxury brands