Photo: UNDP/Brenda Hada
By Thomaz Talarico
Eliandra Fidelis is a respected figure in the new fashion era in Rio, promoting social transformation and environmental accountability in an industry well-known for its high polluting standards. The 41-years old is at the forefront of a new era in the carioca fashion ecosystem that has turned to collaborative models and re-utility methods to spearhead an important trend in the industry: the sustainable fashion business.
It all started in the “forgotten” North Zone of Rio, Engenho Da Rainha, a central neighborhood divided by two criminal factions where Eliandra established an NGO initially devoted to empowering women to lead and organize cultural events in the periphery, “…my intention was to highlight and show the local population how strong the artistic class is inside our neighborhood. Then, I started bringing workshops to these events such as DJing and sewing classes”. With a couple of needles and recycled materials in hands, the creative visionary soon developed, in 2010, a group of local stylists forming the first-ever collaborative fashion studio in the periphery: “As Charmosas”.
“I believe in inclusion through sustainable fashion. We, at “As Charmosas” produce fashion using knitted scrap, seeds and Nespresso capsules. We use local labor force to make sure we are empowering and generating income to our own community” says Eliandra. What started with cultural events and then expanded to a collaborative fashion studio, naturally scaled to a dozen other transformative initiatives integrating social, environmental and economic gains to the local population, “Our main project is definitely our fashion studio, however, with the help of other important female figures in the region, we have been able to organize the first Forum for Local Development, in partnership with CIEDS. We also developed a craftship course for public schools in the surroundings and have placed our artistic class in the main fashion events in Rio”, proud Eliandra recalls. The NGO “As Charmosas” has more than 30 social projects under its umbrella, including Black Na Favela and prestigious participations in over 8 editions of the renowned Fashion Business, where Eliandra was the first person to gather the scrap generated from the mega event and gave them meaning through fashion (upcycling). Ultimately, “As Charmosas” won the RIO V.I.E.S Moda award under the category Sustainability in 2015.
Dreaming of a better quality of life for her neighbors who have historically seen very few incentives or opportunities inside their communities, Eliandra heard of the RIO+ Centre Pilot Project with the Musicians from Baixada from her life partner, DJ Nino Leal, member of the open group of musicians, “I was introduced to the 2030 Agenda for the first time during the SDGs workshop in Belford Roxo, organized by RIO+ Centre. I was impressed, because I had always strived for achieving most of these goals inside my community, and now, I knew how the international community had committed to those same drivers. I had to spread the word”, she said. And that’s what she did.
On the 21st of March, 2017, Eliandra managed to gather – with her active mobility as a civil society representative – a diverse group of leading actors from the sustainable fashion scene in Rio for a first round of discussions at MALHA, a co-working galpony that serves as an ecosystem and leader of this new fashion era in Rio encouraging entrepreneurs, hosting workshops and events and offering several innovative services. A new network was born, and Eliandra, a genuine change maker that overcame geographical and social barriers to become a sustainable fashion influencer, was once again leading a movement towards structural change. She is bringing the 17 SDGs to the table, and making sure the new creative carioca fashion actors are innovating towards a 2030 vision to this industry, “…today, I am pleased to see sustainable and social progress being made through fashion, but still, there is much to be done. I believe in partnerships for implementing the SDGs and that’s what I am striving for; bringing the 2030 Agenda do this industry but most importantly, to the periphery too”, she complements.
Civil society as agents for change is fundamental for unlocking the multiplier effect for implementing the 2030 Agenda at the local level. We hope to see for every effort made by RIO+ Centre, new “Eliandras” being born.