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CLASS – the dopest Brazilian streetwear brand


Our friend Mike Mag (who was part of the Monstro do Rio project) recently sent us the part of his CPTMAFIA homie Raphael Soares. The skating was sick (just as from Matheus Lima, another homie from the crew who had a part out last month) so we definitely were down to present it. The part was for CLASS and Mike told us that this is “the dopest underground streetwear brand coming out of Brazil right now”. For sure we wanted to know more. So we got in contact with Eric Cesar and his partner Rafaela Sayuri who started the brand.

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Rafaela Sayuri and Eric Cesar

Can you describe CLASS with three words?

Classy, sophistication and “ïmprovisação”.

And what is the story behind the brand?

CLASS is a skate brand that started in an artisanal way. My girlfriend/partner Rafaela Sayuri and I made 5 panel caps “one by one”, sewn by hand. From the beginning we were concerned with the communication and visual identity of the brand, mixing more classic caps made with tailoring fabrics and more sporty nylon caps. Like every skater, I’ve always had a very strong connection with skate brands, but here in Brazil these international brands ended up losing a little of their essence because of the distributors who buy the copyrights and spray them all over the territory, thus losing quality and exclusivity. For this reason we wanted to create a brand with a higher quality than what the market was delivering, thus CLASS was born.

What is the connection with CPTMAFIA?

All members of the CLASS skate team are from the CPTMAFIA crew. I know some of them since before CLASS existed, longtime friends from skateboarding.

Where is CPTMAFIA located and who is part of the crew?

CPTMAFIA has members all over Brazil, but mainly in the great ABC, industrial hub of the city of São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto (where it has one of the best skateshops in the world – MKD) and Maringá (which also has one of the best skateshops in the world – Retta skateshop).

What distinguishes Class from American or European brands?

I think CLASS’s relationship with Brazilian culture, which is very plural. We identify a lot with Brazilian art, architecture and music, contemporary and modernist, this access makes the brand different from any other in the world.

"We identify a lot with Brazilian art, architecture and music, contemporary and modernist"

Do Brazilians have a different taste in streetwear than Europeans, for example?

It is very difficult to talk about Brazil, because it is a very large and culturally rich country, but speaking more about São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, which are more cosmopolitan states, the taste for streetwear and sneakers are similar. What differs a lot, and which for me is the real Brazilian streetwear is the “Mandrake” style, which is an authentic style that grew and developed in the favelas of Brazil. This is very different from the European style, giving preference to brands like Lacoste and vintage Oakley pieces, team jerseys and more.

What are your goals with the brand?

Helping foster a Brazilian streetwear and skateboarding scene, and exporting it to the world.

What are the difficulties on the way to get internationally recognized?

It has always been CLASS’s goal to become a global brand. Today we sell in Brazil and Japan. Perhaps one of the biggest difficulties is export taxes, and the lack of interest that some countries have in a culture other than their own, but we believe that this is changing with the internet and the awareness of some young people.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Everywhere. CLASS has some signs that we always use, but a lot of our inspiration comes from the streets of Brazil, from the most marginalized aesthetic, and often we contrast that with a more “erudite” concept. We really like architecture, art, product design, and brands like Maison Margiela, Helmut Lang or Comme des Garçons inspire us.

What fabrics do you work with and do they differ from where European or American brands source their fabrics?

We are located in an industrial hub in the state of São Paulo, so a lot of synthetic fabric is made here. Brazil is very rich when it comes to the textile sector, from cotton fabrics to high quality polyamides. We like to mix tailoring fabrics with technological fabrics.

I feel like it started with sportswear, shirts and sweatpants, and now you’re doing more things like jackets, knit sweaters, or sweaters with embroidery. Is it because you’ve learned it over the years or has the brand’s style also changed a bit?

So actually from the first year we were making more complex clothes, like the “la class” jacket made with English wool or Italian silk caps. That was always the CLASS differential. A T-shirt, that is something simpler, we made it only in the second year of the brand. I believe we started backwards, with the most difficult clothes. [laughing]

How is the brand in Brazil? Do you also sell it in non-skate related stores?

CLASS, like other Brazilian skate and streetwear brands, is a phenomenon. Our products sell out in minutes, even creating a parallel market for resellers, something similar to what happens with Supreme. One of the characteristics of CLASS is the curation of stores. We segment the best skateshops in Brazil, and also lifestyle stores that usually sell the rarest “sneakers”.

I always hear how big the skateboarding scene in Brazil is and that skateboarding is the most popular sport after football. So is CLASS a full-time gig?

For sure bro, the Brazilian skate and streetwear market is growing a lot, becoming a fever among young people who enjoy the culture. It’s something really bizarre, and I believe that most of the world doesn’t even realize it happens.

You also have a womens line, right?

We have a second brand in our group called SAY UR, aimed more at the female streetwear market.

Where do you want to be with CLASS in five years?

We want to have already set up our physical concept store and we want to get stronger within skateboarding and be one of the pioneers in exporting the Brazilian skateboarding and streetwear scene to the world.