Brand to Watch: FARM Rio

by Kristen Heinzinger

From the beaches of Brazil to the streets of U.S. cities—that’s where designer Katia Barros is planning to take her label, FARM Rio. The company, which she founded 20 years ago to mesh with the laid back, urban-beachy lifestyle and spirit of Rio de Janeiro, is making a big debut in Anthropologie for spring, after a successful run with REVOLVE. At Indochine in NYC, we caught up with Katia to get the scoop!

Everything in your collection has such a happy vibe. What is your vision?
I started the brand 20 years ago, and the inspiration was our city, Rio de Janeiro, and Brazil. It’s a place where you feel like you’re on vacation all the time—there are beaches all over. The lifestyle in Rio is happy, and there’s always sun. The way people dress there is in this spirit. I never thought about bringing the brand to a place that’s not like that, and I didn’t know if it would work. Then I brought it to São Paulo—Rio is more like California, and São Paulo is more like New York—and it was such a success. So I realized it could be sensible in other places. Now we have 70 of our own shops and more than 1,000 sales points in Brazil. What I understood was that the spirit of happy and vacation works all over. It doesn’t matter. Everyone wants to feel happy!

Now you’re expanding into the US market with Anthropologie and REVOLVE.What makes them good partners for the brand?
I’m still learning about this market. It’s very different. I didn’t know who was going to be the best players for us. We had a booth at Coterie where we showed the collection. I needed to know who was going to like the brand. Revolve and Anthro both liked it. So we started working with both of them. I’m happy to be there!

Let’s backtrack…how did you get your start in fashion?
Well I was an auditor. I was 26 years old and I gave up everything and decided to have a new life. I started a free market line with just a few clothes, and just me and a partner, who is my best friend. That was 20 years ago. When I did my first few pieces, I didn’t know how to make them. I looked at Rio and the geography and I always thought it need clothes that match what’s happening. We didn’t have that. We had Zara, and more urban clothes. So I decided to study fashion. Now I’m a fashion designer and I can do accounting [Laughs].

FARM Rio has some cool collaborations—Jansport, Adidas, and Havianas. How did those come about?
We wanted to collaborate with brands that matched the spirit of FARM Rio. Havianas is like that, and we liked Jansport because in Brazil most of the girls go to school and college with that backpack. And we chose Adidas beince I was little I used to wear the track suit, and I dream about having one printed. SO I went to see them, but they were like, who are you? And I said, come on, let’s do it! And I showed them all the prints. I bought some clothes of theirs and I printed our proint on top and I sent it to them and they liked it. They said lets try it. And it was successful! This is our sixth or seventh collaboration.

Who comes up with all of the prints?
We have a group of 15 designers. They are exclusive designs for us. We have 100 different prints.

Before you created your own, what brands were you wearing?
I used to wear brands from Brazil, like Company. It was a lifestyle line. It’s not around anymore, but it was big in Rio.

So what’s next?
I’m going back to Brazil to plan the next collection. I’m trying to figure out the U.S. calendar, because it’s very different from Brazil’s. July is 20 years, so we’re having a big party in Brazil. We’re asking clients what they liked in the past and we’re going to redo it. We also have a brand, Re-Farm, that’s about sustainability, and we’re reusing our fabric scraps from cutting. We have a team just thinking about those pieces. And we have a new home collection coming out—everything for a girl’s room.

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