High-end Heaven: the Man Behind Brazil’s Luxury Retail Chain

High-end Heaven: the Man Behind Brazil’s Luxury Retail Chain

Jereissati Jr has a long and impressive history in the
world of Brazilian retail. His father, Carlos Jereissati Sr, was
responsible for opening Brazil’s first shopping centre in 1966.
From an early age Carlos Jr was immersed in consumer culture: “My
father used to pay me and my sister to count how many shopping bags
we could spot in the mall, so we developed a passion for this
business early on.”

In 2005, Carlos Jereissati Jr was appointed President and CEO of
Iguatemi – the Brazilian retail group that will oversee the running
of 17 shopping malls by the end of this year. Over the last decade,
Carlos has brought countless iconic European fashion brands to
Brazilian consumers including Lanvin, Prada, Tod’s, Dolce &
Gabbana and Bottega Veneta, designers who had previously no direct
access to the seventh largest economy in the world.

Not only that, Carlos has made sure that the Iguatemi outposts
function as much more than ports of entry for luxury brands. A
well-known patron of the arts, Jereissati Jr has launched
successful art programs across the shopping centres, featuring
installations within the complexes for shoppers to enjoy, as well
as hosting regular cultural events and exhibitions. To support
this, Iguatemi has also implemented interactive technology within
the malls, to further engage customers with the works of art

SUITCASE spoke with Carlos Jereissati Jr about the growing
demand in Brazil for European designer brands, the exponential
growth of the Brazilian middle class, and the ways in which
Iguatemi is adapting to 21st century mall culture to create an
experience that goes far beyond simply shopping.

The Iguatemi malls have a fantastic tech element. What role
does smart technology play in the shopping experience for your

At Iguatemi we look to provide an experience beyond the
purchase: we use technology to make the Iguatemi shopping
experience more attractive and differentiated. Today it is possible
to capture information about customers who come to shop at Iguatemi
through Wi-Fi, iBeacons and mobile applications. We can later
utilise the information captured to develop custom marketing
campaigns targeted to specific groups (geo-fencing). We have also
installed museum-like seats with iPads and attached headphones to
illuminate the story behind our Art Program. Works of art are
displayed throughout the mall and we have built a true museum
experience. Artists exhibited in the Iguatemi Collection include
Rikrit Tiravanija, Rivane Neuenschwander, Sarah Morris, Lisa
Oppenheim, Daniel Steegman Mangrané, Jeppe Hein, Chiara Banfi,
Albano Afonso, Detanico & Lain and Marine Hugonnier.

Why is it important for you to integrate visual art into the
Iguatemi experience? How do you select the artists you

Iguatemi is not just a shopping centre. Our customers spend a
lot of time here by themselves and with their families, and it is
important for us to provide them with art, service, entertainment,
gastronomy and retail so they can really enjoy their visit. We
tapped the talents of Italian-born, Brazil-based curator Jacopo
Crivelli Visconti to select the artists and orchestrate the
distribution of the nominated works across Iguatemi’s portfolio of
shopping centres. We have always tried to support the arts, whether
it’s sponsoring exhibitions through Iguatemi such as SP-Arte,
SP-Arte Foto or museums like Pinacoteca do Estado and MAM, or
making our space available as a platform for the arts.

How do you assist European brands looking to enter the
Brazilian marketplace?

We provide a 360-degree platform for brands, helping to connect
them with local resources if needed or acting as an incubator for
them. Brazil is a complicated country to get into due to import
taxes, a complex tax system and difficult labour laws. But the
luxury customer base is getting bigger each day with the growth of
the middle class and there is increasing demand. Every luxury brand
wants to be here but it is very expensive and complicated to
operate. Large companies such as Louis Vuitton, Prada, Tiffany
& Co. etc. have entered the market directly but they can afford
the learning curve. For this reason, we created the I-Retail
division to help soften the landing of the brands into the country,
to forge real relationships with them and act as a bridge between
them and Iguatemi.

How has high-end shopping in Brazil evolved over the last

The luxury consumer market has changed and evolved dramatically.
In recent years, there has been an exponential growth in demand for
luxury, which has allowed us to introduce the world’s most
important brands to the country. Brazilians are still discovering
the pleasures of consumption that other countries had long ago. It
took a while for the economy to evolve in Brazil before the recent
emergence of a middle class. Twenty years ago, we bought everything
outside the country. Now Brazilians not only shop closer to home,
the population of Brazilian consumers has also doubled given the
exponential growth of the middle class.

In your opinion, what qualities do Brazilians admire in
fashion? Which trends predominate?

Brazilians are seductive by nature; they have constant energy
and an intense love for life. We value beauty and sensuality.
Brazilians are very creative by nature, always on the lookout for
fresh ideas and ways to express themselves. Trends vary and we keep
up with them. For example, we have been actively approaching more
accessible brands, to cater to the trends of mixing high and low,
and we have also catered to the market for men’s fashion, which has
grown tremendously during recent years.

Are there certain European designers who you think speak well
to Brazilian consumers?

Bringing European brands to Brazil is a way to make Brazilians
feel updated and connected to the world and Europe. Even though
Brazilians occasionally shop abroad, they are proud to have
European brands in their country – it makes them feel connected to
the brand locally. Brazil also has a large population of Italian
descendants, so brands with strong traditions of Italian
craftsmanship and heritage like Gucci and Bottega Veneta do
particularly well at Iguatemi.

What’s next for Iguatemi? Do you have more exciting projects on
the horizon?

We are expanding and will have 17 malls by 2015. We continue to
grow and improve our malls increasingly. In Campinas and Porto
Alegre, we are undergoing expansion so we can welcome more luxury
brands. We recently entered the Outlet segment in some regions of
the country, making premium brands available at significant

How do you think retail will evolve in the years to come? Do
you expect any major changes in the mall culture?

The Brazilian economy continues to grow and still provides ample
opportunity for operations that serve untapped demand. We believe
that opening malls in great locations, with the right combination
of architecture, mix of tenants and services will continue to do
well not only in the immediate future but also in the decades to
come. The future for the luxury market is very positive as the
Brazilian middle class expands and begins aspiring for luxury