Brazilian Jeans

Mylene Mizrahi


Here in Rio a very popular genre of party are the funk balls, that happens on weekend nights, most of the time in sport courts in clubs that are kind of decadent. Each of these parties gather thousands of youngsters, coming from their homes up on the hill, where the favela slums are localized. The girls and boys who take part care a great deal about their personal appearance, specially when they go out to dance. I have been studying these parties since 2002 with my principle focus being on their clothes.
What has become known as “ brazilian jeans” is a representative garment of the wardrobe of the girls who come to the funk balls, and in fact it was really a style that was created by them, because it was their appropriation of these jeans, and their wearing them to funk balls, that really gave them life. These jeans are largely known as the “trousers of Gang”, in reference to the leading retailer and producer of this style of jeans, although in the funk context the trousers are called by the native category “moletom stretch trousers”, a reference to the materiality of the garment.

The point to be stressed, and which is noted by the dancers, is that more than the brand, the importance of this special garment relies in its materiality. The style of those feminine trousers, a confluence of local and global tastes, is defined by a fabric that can look like denim, but is actually a stretched jersey material that simulates its appearance, after being dyed and washed. The raw material is the same as denim being around 95% cotton plus elastane, but the effect of the weave is to emphasis the stretching quality of the elastane. This trait of materiality adds to the trousers utilitarian and aesthetics characteristics which, in interaction to the body and the dance, allows us to grasp their meaning.
The “moletom stretch” is a fabric that stretches equally in both horizontal and vertical dimensions, unlike traditional denim with elastane that only stretches in one direction. . The elasticity and the softness of the jersey give a lot of comfort to the dancer, for whom a funk ball requires quite extreme movements of the legs, including flexing her knees and swinging her hips almost to the the dance floor. At the same time, the jersey is thick enough to receive all kinds of embellishment, that goes from cuts that form figurative and abstract motives, which allow one to see the skin of the dancer, through baroque adornments, such as embroideries and crystals. On the other hand, the “moletom stretch”, due to its low density, adheres to the body like a body stocking, revealling curves of a body that becomes even curvier with the movement of the dance. Finally, as the jersey fabric still has the appearance of denim, it acquires a fashion appeal and a connection with global taste. All of these qualities makes such jeans central to the funk balls. At present I am carrying on my PhD research, and one of my concerns is these jeans. I would be interested to hear from other researches who have found links between the materiality of textiles and their precise relationship to the body and to bodily movement such as in dance.
mizrahi photos 1.jpg

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8 Responses to Brazilian Jeans

  1. danlae alvarez February 24, 2007 at 10:49 pm #

    i love the jeans they really cute

  2. Marilou Polymeropoulou, Material and Visual Culture, UCL March 5, 2007 at 12:23 pm #

    This is a very interesting topic that could embody both theories about materiality and social interaction. From the abstract article, I can imagine that gender is part of your research. I would like to ask though, what drove your interest to women specifically. What about men? Aren’t there any sort of ‘masculine Brazilian jeans’? Thanks.

  3. Rita DaSilva March 18, 2007 at 3:35 pm #

    I love brazilian jeans. I buy them at they have so many styles!

  4. Nora April 26, 2007 at 9:40 am #

    I have been following this type of style of jean for years.The brazilian jean can range from extreamly sexy to moderatly sexy.regardless the jeans are absolutly the best jeans I have ever seen.I belive in America these jeans will be a big hit. The fact that they use them at a dance makes since regular jeans are not comfortable the hard denim feel is to hot and sweaty. these jeans have a illusion of jean material but the comfort of work out clothes,they adsorb moisture. also brazilian women are know for there exotic bodies especialy their butts. these jeans hug every curve in the most complimentary way. a great way to show off your assets

  5. Miriam Lamrani-MA Material and Visual Culture-UCL October 12, 2007 at 2:31 pm #

    I find this topic really interesting. It makes one reflect about the cycles of fashion. What we, outside the Brazilian market, know and perceive as ‘Brazilian jeans’, in Brazil can only be found worn by small fraction of people namely girls from the favelas going to the ‘funk balls’. The middle-class Brazilian girl does not wear these jeans. The effort for distinction made by these girls goes against the mainstream fashion, since it is a ‘style that was created by them’ as pointed out by Mylene Mizrahi. They ‘create their own fashion’ with consequences the fashion industry provides these kinds of jeans for such kind of consumers. Now, let’s imagine that the so-called ‘Brazilian jeans’ becomes suddenly fashionable outside Brazil, as one could picture by reading the enthusiastic comments of the female readers. The girls wearing them will have to re-appropriate the jeans again by further customization or adopt another dress code to translate their identity as part of a given Brazilian subculture. And the cycle never ends. What was a style belonging to this group would become a mass consumption trend. Yet, many examples of that kind can be found in the fashion industry. Staying in Brazil, the case of the brand ‘Havaianas’, these rubber flip-flop shoes which, for a period of time, was the ‘must have’ of the summer. Havaianas use to be cheap shoes that middle-class young Brazilians were wearing. At some point, bored by the ‘look-alike’ of the flip-flops they started customizing them, buying two or three pairs and exchanging the rubber straps in order to make their Havaianas bicolour. Consequence? The brand started to release new bicolour models. It is then not the fashion that decide the tendencies but the consumer itself. The fashion’s industry seized the opportunity to make it a new hit in trend. So, still imagining that ‘Brazilian jeans’ could be the next it; youngsters from the favelas re-appropriate goods from the market. Those goods will, at their turn, be re-appropriated by the fashion industry that will make them the next trend. Consumers will go to buy them until the next vogue where they will finally become ‘mainstream’.

  6. Mariana November 18, 2007 at 6:41 pm #

    That is totally not true that only a small amount of girls wear these type of jeans in Brazil. I am a 24 year old middle class Brazilian woman and I have and have had for years several pairs of these “jeans”.
    They even sell them here in America, in Brazilian stores around the country.
    You should visit other parts of our country and see that everyone wears those pants.

  7. franklin uchenna chikwendu September 5, 2008 at 1:36 pm #

    i love this colection were can i get this wear to buy in brazil i want to sela them in african

  8. Paula September 26, 2008 at 10:30 am #

    Hi Franklin, you can buy it online. There are several stores but the most affordable for wholesale would be they are the best in my opinion. I Hope I have helped!

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