Oscar Freire

It’s summer in Brazil. Here’s where to shop for beachwear.

Miriam Kreinin Souccar
September 15, 2015

The U.S. may be heading into fall, but in Brazil, summer’s only just heating up. It’s the perfect time to stock up on the country’s coveted beachwear, especially with the favorable exchange rate happening right now. The Brazilian Real is at a 12-year low, creating a shoppers paradise for visitors with dollars.

The first stop for anyone longing for a taste of Brazil’s relaxed beach style is the newly renovated Havaianas flagship store (pictured) in Sao Paulo’s exclusive Jardims shopping district. The store itself, designed like an upscale beachside market, is its own experience, making you forget you’re in the midst of a large metropolis. 

Its mainstay, the flimsy, cheap rubber flip-flop—which used to be a staple for Brazil’s working class—has become an international fashion brand. The Sao Paulo store is stocked with hundreds of styles and colors, customizable with rhinestones or other pins. New this year, and only available in Brazil, is a complete apparel collection of bikinis, briefs, beach dresses, tops and bottoms, awash with pictures and prints of kites, hammocks and iconic scenes from Rio de Janeiro.

Not far from Havaianas are two boutiques of Brazil’s top luxury swimwear designers: Adriana Degreas and Lenny Niemeyer. Degreas, whose clients include Naomi Campbell, makes bikinis, one-pieces, and cover-ups that could almost double as evening wear. This year’s line is full of gold and metallic, with lots of cut-outs that show plenty of skin, a normality for Brazilian women of all sizes to wear on the beach, but certain to stand out state-side.

Lenny Niemeyer is better known internationally, but the Brazilian bikini designer reserves some of her styles for her local boutiques. Her beachwear and dresses are a favorite with celebs like Nicole Richie and Lady Gaga. One word of caution for those who have never worn a bathing suit from Brazil: the cut on the bottom, though not typically a G-string like in years passed, is much skimpier than what we are used to. Cover your bottom too much, however, and you will quickly be uncovered as a gringa.

Of course, all of these designers have boutiques in Rio de Janeiro too, but the go-to place in that city is Blue Man, where all cariocas shop for the beach. Though it has full lines for women and children and just added fitness wear and home decor, Blue Man is most famous for its bathing suits for men.

This season, Blue Man, which has sold suits to the likes of Bill Clinton and Anthony Hopkins, featured an earth theme on its beachwear, with prints of parrots and the rainforest. Don’t expect to find many types of trunks or surfer shorts there; in Brazil, men wear a slightly larger version of a Speedo, called a sunga. The more flattering Brazilian style is wider on the sides. At another popular beachwear shop, Rosa Cha, sungas can be customized.

Miriam Souccar covers the Brazil beat for Travel + Leisure.

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