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Brazilian Brands Invade New York With BeBrasil Festival

Laurel Wentz

Immersive Experience Transforms 10,000 Feet of SoHo Retail Space Into a Country Pop-Up

Brazil is coming to Manhattan this week with a concept space showcasing the country's lively culture of creativity and innovation. Starting Wednesday, the 10,000-foot former Tommy Hilfiger store in SoHo will be filled with 40 Brazilian brands and services offering a pop-up festival from food to fashion called BeBrasil.


The Brazilian Trade and Promotion Agency, APEX, was inspired by a partnership last year with Macy's to do a country tribute to Brazil at the department store. APEX worked with Lowe Profero, and later signed a deal with the digital agency to develop a strategy to promote Brazil in the U.S., leading to this week's BeBrasil.

"We wanted to inspire New York and Americans to see Brazil in a more creative, sustainable way," said Mauricio Borges, president of APEX. "The main goal is to improve our relationship."

One of the highlights of BeBrasil is likely to be a talk and book signing by Brazil's top chef, Alex Atala. His D.O.M. restaurant in Sao Paulo is currently No. 4 in the San Pellegrino-sponsored ranking of the top 50 restaurants in the world. Mr. Atala, a tattoed, music-loving former punk, is revered for his transformation of indigenous ingredients, some of which (including ants) he explains on the restaurant's website, into haute cuisine. Celebrity chef David Chang, of Momofuku fame, described Mr. Atala in a recent Wall Street Journal profile: "Whenever I see that Dos Equis commercial-the most interesting man in the world-I always think, No, that's not true. The most interesting man in the world is Alex Atala."

The immersive experience at BeBrasil was designed by Brazilian architects and includes live music, a typical bar and virtual tours of Brazilian cities and of the country's Inhotim modern art museum.

Brands with products on display and for sale include apparel designers like Maria Oiticica and Alexandre Herchovitch, whose vision is described by New York magazine as "fantasy with a utilitarian streak that's sometimes politically charged," and Doiselles, a knitwear label that uses prison inmates as knitters.

There are energy drinks and natural cosmetics from the Amazon rainforest, and coffee, coconut water and the sugar-cane based cachaca used to make caipirinhas. The best-known brand participating may be Havaianas flipflops, and the biggest is Embraer, Brazil's aircraft manufacturer. Entry to BeBrasil, open through Oct. 22, is free.

"People still think about Brazil in one dimension-soccer and samba, not that there's anything wrong with that," said Roberto Ramos, Lowe Profero's New York-based managing director for Latin America. "It's a free, joyous, accessible culture. We want to add more texture and depth to that, and showcase Brazilian products and creativity."

Apex's Mr. Borges said New York is the perfect place to start and that APEX hopes to take BeBrasil to other cities and countries.

"What we want to show is not just the b-to-b experience but b-to-c, and let people be inspired, talk, network and use our platform," he said.

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