Patricia Bonaldi turned what was once a custom gown business in Uberlândia, Brazil, into a full-blown luxury brand she calls PatBo. As Bonaldi prepares for the stateside arrival of her joy-fueled and embroidery-rich designs, she discusses how, stitch by stitch, she’s fashioning an empire.
You’re a very well-known designer in Brazil. How did you build your business from a multibrand store to a full-fledged luxury brand in such a short time?
I grew up in a small country town called Uberlândia. While studying law, I pursued my passion for design and opened my own store. Soon after, I began receiving requests to design custom gowns, which quickly turned into an eveningwear collection. This cemented my future as a designer and I graduated in fashion design a few years later. Combining my design heritage with bolder ideas and a newfound creative freedom, I launched PatBo. As the business grew, I founded a school in Uberlândia, teaching local men and women the art of craftsmanship. Today, I have seven freestanding stores in Brazil, with presence in key global accounts including Harrods and Moda Operandi.
How did the success of your eveningwear collection inspire the launch of PatBo?
PatBo represents my background in detailed embroidery with a new creative freedom combining bold textures, colors, and materials.
Tell us about your studio in Brazil. What does an average day look like for you?
I spend most of my time between Uberlândia, where my factory and school are located, and São Paulo, where I have an atelier. I am present throughout the development of each collection; I fit every sample, I approve all embroidery tests, and I oversee the stamping process to make sure every piece is perfect.
Who is the PatBo customer? What sort of personality does she have?
The PatBo customer is more attitude than age. She is fearless. She is confident in who she is, she maintains her essence and is not afraid to experiment with trends. She is feminine and strong, graceful and bold.
Your clothes are so joyful. What are your favorite ways to have fun?
I love to travel, to discover new cultures and places. I travel a lot for work but always stay a few extra days to enjoy the place I am in.
PatBo’s aesthetic includes a lot of prints, embellishments, and beautiful fabrics. How do you develop those aspects of the collection?
From the beginning, colors and embroidery have been a part of the brand’s DNA. I built the business on a single thread, and that art of craftsmanship remains a foundation of each collection. I find seasonal inspiration in my surroundings.
How do you think the Brazilian fashion industry has evolved over the course of your career?
There are many talented Brazilian designers, all with a unique point of view. With social media today, I think there are more eyes on Brazil, which gives the brands here a wider audience. I see a beautiful future for the Brazilian fashion industry.
What prompted the decision to launch in the United States for Fall ’17?
It has always been a dream of mine to bring PatBo to the U.S. PatBo has seen strong growth in Brazil and the momentum has been building over the last few years. We have presence with a few wholesale partners and this year it just felt right to go bigger.
How is that launch expected to roll out?
Our focus is e-commerce. We’re launching PatBo.com domestically this month while simultaneously launching a global partnership with Farfetch.
Which U.S. markets are you targeting first?
We are looking at the U.S. business holistically, with hopes to build presence in key wholesale accounts across the country. In retail we are looking to open stores in New York and Los Angeles.
What was the starting point for your Fall ’17 collection?
The collection is inspired by the streetwear universe, a culmination of cultural and artistic expressions. The line expresses itself through materials, finishes, and interpretations, with couture elements.
You recently collaborated with Converse. Will that be available in the U.S. at any point?
My second collaboration with Converse launched globally July 5, with two styles inspired by the Fall collection, mixing colors, prints, and my signature embroidery into the design. The collection is available in select U.S. retail stores and on PatBo.com. I have another collaboration coming up with Super Sunglasses. Select styles will appear on the runway at São Paulo Fashion Week, with a small capsule collection to hit stores later this year.
You have a massive following on Instagram. What’s your strategy?
It is important for me to be organic and authentic. I post day by day and images that I love.
Which editors and influencers have been most instrumental to your success?
Daniela Falcão, who was editor-in-chief at Vogue Brazil, invited me to show at São Paulo Fashion Week for the very first time. I am forever grateful to her for that opportunity. Influencers are an integral part of the Brazilian fashion industry. Over the years, I have become personal friends with many of them, like Camila Coelho, Camila Coutinho, Helena Bordon, and Thassia Naves.
PLUS! All About Patricia!
Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
Favorite travel destination:
I always consider my last holiday destination the best one: Nicaragua.
Next big trip:
The Silk Route—Istanbul and Beijing.
Love in White by Creed
Go-to beauty products:
Black Rose Skin Infusion Cream and Black Rose Cream Mask by Sisley. They are perfect for giving a “wow” look after a flight. I also love Dermafinish foundation by Vichy.
A dog named Tischa.