By Bruno De Nicola, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Vintage mania has exploded in the historic neighborhood of Santa Teresa and is quickly spreading to the rest of the city. At the forefront of the movement are the “Eu Amo” ladies, Débora Niemeyer and Flávia Monteiro, whose love for old-style fashion is contagious.
A year after the opening of their vintage fashion gallery and store in Santa Teresa, fans of vintage and showbiz producers are still flocking to pick up one-off pieces and accessories.
Product and placement are the secrets behind the “Eu Amo” marketing mix. The hand-picked merchandise and the beautiful setting turned an early Nineteenth Century Santa Teresa building into a cultural hotspot, where all sorts of artists gather to express their love of all thigns vintage.
Débora and Flávia’s showroom is more than just a simple store, its a live gallery and a clubhouse for a market segment that’s growing rapidly in Brazil.
What started out as a personal collection of vintage fashion items became a full-time profession for the creators of “Eu Amo”, who both used to work for a very important fashion producer and distributor in Rio de Janeiro. Débora worked in Creations while Flávia managed sales.
The growing size of their vintage collections made the two ladies realize that their passion and skills had actually brought them the opportunity of opening their own business, and three years ago the “Eu Amo” brand opened it doors to the fashionistas of Rio de Janeiro.
In an interview with The Gringo Times Débora explained the team’s production process is divided into three different stages. The first is prospecting: just like gold diggers, the Eu Amo ladies scour the city, from antique markets to second-hand stores looking for eligible items for their customers. “This is the most important part of our job and it takes around 90% of our efforts, we don’t just look for old stuff, it has to be something special” explained Débora.
The second step involves hygiene as all items are carefully sterilized. Then comes the final stage concerning restoration. Each piece is accurately reconstructed according to its original design, “we don’t adapt our items, we respect every single detail” said Débora as she pointed out that “Eu Amo” has an enormous stock of old-fashioned accessories such as buttons, zippers and ribbons in order to replace any missing element with a perfect match.
“Eu Amo” might have selected a different neighborhood for its gallery; the main fashion circuit in Rio is known to be concentrated around Ipanema, Leblon and Gávea. However the chosen location has proven to be a perfect match for the quirky store.
“Santa Teresa is quite vintage itself” said Débora, suggesting that the locals and visitors are for the most part people with an eye for vintage looks and expressions. “We frequently interact with the vintage artists from around here, offering them a place to display their work. We do all we can to build and promote vintage culture in Rio de Janeiro”, added Débora