This impressive store really is a long way away: Sao Paulo in Brazil to be precise.
It’s the Havaianas store in that city and if ever there were a shop that is more about brand awareness than making a profit, this surely must be it. Stand looking at the store front and unless you actually know what Havaianas is about, you could be forgiven for thinking that you are looking at anything but a shop.
The clue, perhaps, might be that in doing so you just happen to be on one of the more upmarket shopping streets in Brazil’s commercial capital. And for the terminally untrendy (your correspondent included), Havaianas turns out to be predominantly concerned with brightly coloured and patterned flip flops. Except that adopting the arms akimbo position once more in front of the store once more, the only real clue about what’s going on are the large, red letters spelling out the name of the brand.
Look hard and beyond the seeming acres of white space and a few tropical-looking green plants, you may discern a back wall of beach footwear at the back of the store.
This clear, unobstructed view is achieved through the simple expedient of dropping the floor towards the rear of the shop. If you want to inspect the merchandise, you have to walk through what is, proportionately, an enormous foyer, and then descend into the area where the retail action takes place.
This is a beautiful piece of architecture and one that relies on a high degree of prior knowledge. It’s probably a good thing that although Havaianas is a cult, a lot of people seem to know about it.