LatAm's top fashion event begins in Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo fashion week -- the top catwalk shows in Latin America -- kicked off with some 30 Brazilian labels set to showcase their summer collections with the focus on sustainable design.

Alexandre Herchcovitch, Animale and Tufi Duek were the first to unveil their latest creations at the Biennal pavilion in the city's Ibirapuera Park.

Ronaldo Fraga, Agua de Coco, Ellus, Joao Pimenta, Forum and Juliana Jabour are among the others due to take center stage over the course of the week.

"The whole world recognizes Sao Paulo Fashion Week, senses that it operates in a unique way in the fashion world. Brazil is a unique country, with a unique culture," creative director Paulo Borges told a pre-event press conference.

Organizers expects the event to generate a total of $1 billion in business.

Prospective buyers came from Britain, Dubai, Spain and the United States, but Borges said sales were mainly focused on the domestic market.

The theme for this year's summer collections is: "We transform: Stories worth telling" -- putting the emphasis on tradition and local design.

Under a scheme led by architect Marcelo Rosenbaum, professional designers worked with communities in Brazil's poor areas to develop "sustainable" projects that will be displayed during the event.

"We have to stop being a country which produces clothes and instead be a country which produces design," said Borges, stressing that fashion is the country's third-biggest industry.

According to Texbrasil, the Brazilian Fashion Industry Export Program, the South American giant is the fifth-largest textile and apparel producer in the world.

Sao Paulo fashion week is held twice a year, in January for the winter collections and in June for the summer collections.

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