Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Published in Textiles and Politics: Textile Society of America 13th Biennial Symposium Proceedings, Washington, DC, September 18- September 22, 2012.


Copyright 2012 by the author(s).


In 1930, the populist Vargas government embarked on a program of rapid industrialization and became responsible for the development and progress of the nation. Traditionally, the national textile industry had been associated with slaves and the poor and the wealthier classes despised Brazilian textile goods which they regarded as common and preferred imported goods instead. In modernizing the industrial sector, and diversifying production, the government and industry felt compelled to change people’s ideas about national products and in this way sought to stimulate the growth of internal consumption and encourage the nation to have a positive image of itself. To achieve this, national textiles had to be associated with a Brazilian aesthetic ideal and thus be clearly distinguished from any comparable foreign products. In this situation, certain patterns were chosen as genuinely nationalistic by embodying an iconographic repertoire drawn from the tropical environment, and based on the arts. In this way, ®Brazilian fabrics® took on simple forms and striking colors and recaptured features of tropical flora and fauna which made it exotic. However, it also spread the false idea that these creations were devoid of any foreign influences. This study seeks to show that there is nothing genuine in these representations and that they only reflect the illusions of populist political speeches. Although it is recognized that there is a need for a standard image, such as that of the tropical myth which could identify the people with unspoiled nature despite of the widely varying economic condition of the people.