Purpose beyond profit

The combination of fashion, activism, social actions, and environmental preservation makes a brand of t-shirts change people’s lives


by Andréa Ciaffone

The combination of fashion, activism, social actions, and environmental preservation makes a brand of t-shirts change people’s lives


by Fernando Victorino e Nathalia Molina

The end of the conversation with Bruno Imbrizi left us feeling that no one is in life, just on tour. A t-shirt is a business and flag for the designer of the brand Chico Rei. The Prince of Congo’s saga brought to Brazil as a slave he fought to enfranchise himself, and other black people served as the inspiration of his apparel company’s name and soul. “Profit generation only does not make sense. There has to be something greater,” he announces


The company collections sold exclusively on the Internet are a pop cradle of The Brazilian way with a purpose, mixing the brand creations with prints from guest artists. The partnership has distributed through royalties, about R$ 800,000, to independent illustrators via a line of copyright prints since 2017.


In collections designed in collaboration with Brazilian social agencies and artists, the percentage allocated for each one varies on a case-by-case basis. All items sold with images of SOS Atlantic Forest, for example, are collected directly to the foundation of fauna and flora preservation, one of the country’s main biomes. “Zeca Pagodinho has his institute; therefore, the percentage of his t-shirt goes to that,” says Imbrizi explaining the operation of the products connected to the samba artist.

Chico Rei launched in 2019 the T-shirts change the world label, with part of the profit allocated to projects the company designs. The initiative was not limited to the slogan. “It is not about taking my money and do it, nor about delegate or outsource. No, I am part of it.”


The mission to transform people’s reality began in Juiz de Fora, a municipality of Minas Gerais, where the brand was born. The renovation of a school next to the company had the collaboration of partners, volunteers, and employees. “Everyone in Chico Rei team were deeply involved with their hands on it, to be part of the change process. Imbrizi recalls.

The artists Alceu Valença and Lenine wearing t-shirts with their verses and the production unit inside the penitentiary
The renovation included showers, new paint, improvement of the ventilation system, and apparel manufacturing operation of the local Prison facility. Approximately 30 prisoners earn a salary and have a sentence reduction of one day for three worked days. The goal is to promote social integration with dignity. “We teach manufacturing, but we also offer room for dialogue. We show movies to help them forget for some time the violent prison environment.” Rio de Janeiro and Bahia are analyzing the Juiz de Fora prison model’s implementation and resorted to Imbrizi’s know-how for this.
Bruno Imbrizi, creator of the Chico Rei brand
Revenues last year amounted to R$ 20 million with an average of one hundred new launches per month. Chico Rei organized a new partnership in the market in early 2021 with EducaTRANSforma to manufacture t-shirts to promote training and inclusion of the transgender population in the information technology market. The T-shirts are manufactured with 100% natural, sustainable cotton fiber and dyed in compliance with best environmental preservation practices- another concern of the brand.

“We have followed up growth in Canada. We found that the country’s economy is based on a conscious and sustainable production cycle”

On the route to Canada

Next May, the company expects to launch the direct sales site in the US. The company’s expansion plans also include Canada. Negotiations with B2B companies able to redistribute the products in the country are in progress. “We want to use an accountable production structure able to allow the manufacturing a private label and also launch some items of our own,” explains Imbrizi. With plans to launch his brand in Toronto as early as the second half of 2021.

“In recent years, we have followed up growth in Canada. We found that the country’s economy is based on a conscious and sustainable production cycle. Says he. He recognizes Chico Rei’s DNA traces in Canadian culture, which should facilitate the partnership. “We will seek collaborations between Brazil and Canada artists and think about launching new talents to transform the prints into a form of expression and speech tool,” he projects.

The time has come for Chico Rei to succeed in the world and change it.

Education and technology

The project seeks to make access to literature via audiobooks
more democratic

Animal Farm is the bedside book of comedian Fabio Porchat. He now gives voice to George Orwell’s classic at the launch of the Digital Reading Club. The project, created by the social arm of Tocalivros, a Brazilian audiobook platform, gives free access to titles for users of the São Paulo subway, teachers and students at public schools, and patients undergoing treatment at the Hospital das Clínicas (Clinical Hospital), among other institutions.

Producer Marcelo Azevedo, from Tocalivros and comedian Fabio Porchat recording George Orwell’s Animal Farm
“Fabio Porchat is not just a digital influencer or celebrity. He is a knowledge manager with great individual wisdom as a reader and opinion leader, “says Clayton Heringer, art producer of the audiobook platform. “Like Tocalivros Social, he is a driver for forming the critical being and intellectuality through the knowledge acquired through the audiobook. Nothing better than to unite Fabio Porchat with this proposal to democratize reading for all audiences.” The Ambassador of the project, the comedian, also is one of the narrators of another free audiobook. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.


The survey Portraits of Reading from Institute Pró-Livro showed that each person reads an average of 2.5 books per year in Brazil. The study indicates that 82% of the interviewees would like to read more, while 47% said they did not have time for this habit. “There is another part that cannot afford to buy a book. People with some visual impairment or dyslexia, “recalls Marcelo Azevedo, co-founder of Tocalivros Social.


“The Digital Reading Club was founded to democratize, give access to reading and provide the pleasure of reading. More conscientious citizens have the intellectual capacity to understand various ways of expressing themselves and transforming the world. We know that reading is a primary factor for the construction of this intellectual capacity,” says Azevedo.


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