story by Helena Barros
illustration by Joyce Jiang
In Curuzu, every morning looks like an artist's canvas, or a poet's composition. This historic Black neighborhood of Salvador, Brazil, is exploding with culture, colors, and memories. Although its people are historically oppressed in Brazil, their strength and resilience is visible from the very clothes they where.
Meet Bia Loren: a personal stylist, fashion consultant of C&A--a Brazilian clothes brand--and creator of the revolutionary hashtag #ITGUETO. Bia was born in Curuzu, very close to where the first Afro-block of Brazil, Ile Ayê, was created. Because of that creative and historic heritage, Loren was surrounded with inspiration and creativity from the earliest moments of her life.
Inspirations, in fact, have always been a great part of her experiences. For Bia, everything aspect of the rich microcosm of Curuzu stimulates her, from the way people talk and walk, to how they dress, to the inventiveness of the merchants, to their age-old cultural lifestyle. These experiences have been of ultimate influence on how she perceives the fashion industry and society.
This heritage inspired Bia, who developed a powerful movement, centered around the hashtag #ItGueto Essentially, #ItGueto is a project and hashtag that consists of the appreciation of the form of expression present in the favela. This tool of speech is especially unique, Bia says, for it transposes the scene of scarcity present in the daily lives of the people in the community and personalizes fashion trends for its own world of possibilities, bringing tendencies and ideas that are in fact achievable in consideration of these people limits and lifestyles.
She believes that projects like hers are important, for the remodeling of beauty standards strengthens Blacks in the Brazilian population, who are so often rendered invisible and ignored. It is a way of giving voice to a community and bringing people closer to the fashion world, which is so often elitist and excluding. It brings style and fashion to somewhere where people can actually reach and interact with it.
#ItGueto was inspired not only by what was around her, but also from plenty of her personal life experiences. As a girl, she grew up with a huge interest in fashion, but at the same time, she lived in a region she didn’t have the resources for pursuing her passion, the way that she was traditionally expected to. After realizing that, Bia started to explore other patterns that didn’t fit so much in the “it girl” standard, since she felt she didn’t fit in herself. Bia started thinking beyond the standards that were imposed to her. That's when she decided for once and for all that if the didn’t find herself in that spectrum she would simply create her own: #ItGueto.
When it comes to women empowerment, Loren is the ultimate champion. In her work and daily life, she strives to act upon those ideas, encouraging and acknowledging every perspective of the female potential. In fact, Bia's own social media opened up an opportunity to show people how important it is that we value women. She believes that when granted opportunity, women will naturally rise and feel more confident about themselves and consequentially end up presenting their bodies more freely to society.
Being a woman, in her perspective, has only helped to strengthen her work and ideas. Fashion and femininity have always been inextricably linked, so being a woman has always given her the power needed to create and survive in the industry of fashion. Together with her values and identity, Bia has become fully integrated with her work and has created ideas that are entirely unique, showcasing the strength of female empowerment.
Ultimately, Bia affirms that desires a future where people learn how to be more compassionate towards and the world around them.