Irá Salles: Brazilian fashion in the spotlight

2024-03-04 | By Brazilian Footwear


Irá Salles is a designer and CEO of her own brand of bags and accessories, developing manual techniques in a modern e sophisticated line. Headquartered in Salvador / BA, the brand created in 1999 is present in more than 50 points of sale in Brazil, in addition to 30 points of sale abroad distributed among the United States, Canada, Japan, France and England.

Attentive to the needs of her community, she works with local artisans, as well as being involved in social projects in underserved communities. The company is part of the group of exporters of the Brazilian Footwear, an export incentive program maintained by the Brazilian Footwear Industries Association (Abicalçados) in partnership with the Brazilian Export and Investment Promotion Agency (ApexBrasil).

The designer, inspired by her grandmother, who loved fashion and art, studied fashion in New York and transformed her entrepreneurial career by valuing Brazilian fashion from her work and strong innovative vision. Her bags are part of the largest museum of bags in the world, the Tassen Museum of Bags and Purses in Amsterdam, where she was featured in the exhibition entitled Tecniques, year 2011, which had as its theme pieces with ancient techniques and modern design.

An inspirational leader, to her, is one who can motivate and serve as an example, driving significant change. The attentive look at the team and the world is fundamental, so she participates in international events and fairs in the area, analyzing the details of the main brands and seeking constant updating. For beginners in fashion and business, her valuable advice is, in addition to enhancing resilience, to acquire solid skills in management.  

1. What inspired you to pursue a career in fashion and business?
Fashion has always been a childhood dream. After graduating in communication in Brazil I went to study fashion at Parsons in NY. My background was in clothing, but I migrated by chance to accessories, shoes and bags. I was driven by a passion for fashion with a lot of influence from my grandmother, who also loved fashion and art.


2. What are the main challenges of being a woman in a leading position in this industry?
I believe that the main challenge of any woman in the job market is to cope with so many functions. Women cope better with multitasking, but we have accumulated a lot in recent years.


3. What do you consider inspirational leadership?
The ability to bring followers, motivation, be an example to achieve significant changes in the world. Leadership should always be a reason to do something better.

A capacidade de trazer seguidores, motivação, ser um exemplo para conseguir mudanças significativas no mundo."

4. Is there any advice you would like to give to women who are starting their careers in fashion and business?
The most important word would be resilience and perseverance. Being an entrepreneur in Brazil is not easy and there are many challenges. Having an administrative notion is a very important step, because there is no point in being creative and not knowing how to run a business.


5. Do you believe that the footwear sector has specificities that set it apart from other fashion segments? Which would they be?
All fashion sectors ask for quality, which is what the public increasingly seeks when working with products, and professionalism, which is strictly necessary to stand out in this market.  

6. What are your future plans for the company/brand you lead?
Without a doubt, the biggest step is to expand into the international market. Brazilian fashion has evolved and gained prominence in the world, and this movement opens the market to other brands that carry the Brazilian DNA.


7. In your opinion, how does the Brazilian Footwear program contribute to gender equality in the Brazilian footwear sector?
Brazilian Footwear has created strategies that encourage female leadership in the sector, which helps a lot in the inclusion of women in a sector with a very masculine history. This helps and promotes the action of women in the area and adds visibility to buyers seeking this type of inclusion.


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