Semiotics and Fashion readings of São Paulo

As a project for the course YouTube for Educators, which I took this semester at Boise State University, and as my regular activities as professor at Universidade Anhembi Morumbi (São Paulo), a member of the Laureate International Universities, I guided dozens of groups of fashion students, in 6 different classes, to produce videos with semiotic readings of the city of São Paulo and/or “tribes” (groups of people) that live in the city, and then upload them to YouTube. The research for the video production was a required semester course project for the groups. It is important to say that almost none of the students have ever produced a video or used video editing software before, knew what a YouTube channel was and have ever uploaded a video to the Internet.


During the course, we read and discussed texts on Semiotics Theory and its relationship to fashion. I also prepared a YouTube Playlist with videos on Semiotics and Theory of Information.


During the semester, the students were “educated” by watching several videos with Semiotic readings of cities.

I first created a YouTube Playlist with readings of the city of São Paulo using as background the song Sampa, a kind of hymn of the city, by famous Brazilian composer Caetano Veloso, which describes his feelings when coming from Salvador-Bahia to São Paulo in the 1960s (the first video of the Playlist shows only the performance of the song, with Caetano himself):

In class, we watched the first video, interpreted the lyrics of the song, and then watched the videos using the song as background and discussed how they were created.

I created another YouTube Playlist with semiotic readings of different cities around the world:

I also produced a video with a semiotic reading of the city of São Paulo:

I also suggested, as a reference, the interesting grassroots video for Lou Reed‘s song Take a Walk at the Wild Side, with a very informal reading of New York City:

A suggested reading for the course was the book Ver a Cidade (See the City), which I have reviewed at this blog (there is a Google Translate Gadget so you can read the review in English). The book touches not only on theory of semiotic readings of cities, but also applies the theory to readings of parts of the city of São Paulo.

We also watched and discussed, in class, the VHS Paisagens Urbanas, by Nelson Brissac Peixoto, which shows and discusses possible semiotic readings of cities, especially São Paulo.


Through this whole process of awareness, during the semester, students were intensely immersed in how to semiotically read a city, specially the one where they lived.

I then sent the students written orientation for the production of the videos, besides face-to-face orientation in class. As a support for the production phase, besides the several face-to-face private and group meetings in computer labs, and many emails exchanged, I started the page YouTube na Educação with many references on how to produce, edit and upload videos to YouTube. The idea is that this page becomes a reference for the production of educational videos. Although in Portuguese, it is written in a straight-forward way, so the Google Gadget Translator works fine in this case. Some of the links are for English pages and some for pages in Portuguese.


The videos are finished! Some of them have English translation on the video description and some of them have English written text or translation during the video. Some of the videos present usually quick interviews which are not translated into English, but we might use dotSUB or other resources in the near future to translate everything. Anyway, all the videos present a visual reading of the city and/or an urban tribe, so the images and sounds generally speak for themselves.

The Fashion Business students (the most part of the groups) had to prepare color picks and a panel, and then produce handbags and purses inspired by the tribe researched. These handbags and purses are showed at the end of many videos.

This is a playlist with all the videos, in the order they were uploaded to YouTube (more than 40, so you should probably jump from one to another to have a general idea of what was done, and below you will find playlists by topics):


I also organized Playlists by topics, as groups from different classes sometimes researched the same subject, so you can have different perspectives on the same place/tribe of the city of São Paulo. I introduce each of these specific playlists with a brief explanation of the tribe/space chosen.

Benedito Calixto is a Square in São Paulo where a famous Antiques Fair goes on during weekends. 3 groups chose this topic and produced purses:

The Botanic Garden in São Paulo is a marvelous space, chosen by 2 groups:

Consolação is a famous Cemetery in São Paulo, chosen by 2 groups:

Cosplay is a group that plays with characters, chosen by 3 groups with purse production:

The Brazilian Country Style was chosen by only 1 group, with purse production (not shown on the video):

Emos, a new group in the city, was chosen by 1 group, with purse production:

Estação da Luz is the old train station in São Paulo, which neighborhood was transformed in a cultural space, and still works. 1 group chose it:

Patricinhas and Camilinhas are names given to certain fashion girls. 1 group chose it with purse production:

1 group chose to research the gays at Frei Caneca, a famous cultural street in São Paulo, with purse production:

The Glam Rock group and style was chosen by 3 groups, with purse production:

The Graffiti Painters of São Paulo were researched by 1 group, with purse production:

The Hip Hop group and style was chosen by 2 groups, with purse production:

Ibirapuera is São Paulo’s Central Park, and was chosen by 1 group:

Liberdade is a gastronomic and cultural neighborhood colonized by the Japanese in São Paulo. It was chosen by 4 groups, with purse production by 2 of them:

Lolitas is a new group in the city, of women that like to dress like delicate dolls. 1 group chose to research it, with purse production:

1 group chose to research the motorcyclists with purse production:

1 group chose Avenida Paulista, maybe the most know avenue in the city and the new cultural and financial center of the city:

1 group researched the punk group in São Paulo, with purse production:

1 group researched the Rappers with purse production:

2 groups chose Rockabilly, groups that like old rock style, and produced purses:

4 groups chose Rua Augusta, a famous street that crosses Avenida Paulista and was an icon of the Jovem Guarda musical wave, decades ago. Purse production by 2 groups:

1 group chose the skaters at Ibirapuera park, with purse production:

1 group chose the Subway Dancers (I am not sure how to nominate this tribe) with purse production (not shown on the video):

1 group chose the surfers living in the city, with purse production:

1 group chose the Tattoo Artists, with purse production:

1 student produced a video on the history of Congonhas Airport:

That’s it for now! I hope you have a better perspective (or several) on our city and its tribes, and if you have not been here yet, you can come to visit us!


7 respostas a Semiotics and Fashion readings of São Paulo

  1. Pingback: De Mattar » Blog Archive » Os vídeos dos meus alunos neste semestre na Anhembi Morumbi

  2. Parabenizo o Prof. Hoão Mattar e seus alunos pelo belo material, com certeza este servirá como ferramenta de trabalho para muitos outros pesquisadores!

  3. Parabenizo o Prof. João Mattar e seus alunos pelo belo material, com certeza este servirá como ferramenta de trabalho para muitos outros pesquisadores!

  4. João Mattar disse:

    Maria Alice, o processo e o resultado final ficaram realmente bastante interessantes, inclusive porque no final não envolveram apenas a minha disciplina. Abração e até 2009!

  5. Camila Emidio disse:

    Olá profº!
    Os vídeos ficaram ótimos e eu assisti todos : )
    Parabéns pelo seu trabalho, com certeza sentiremos falta das suas aulas!!!!
    Boas festas para vc tbm e até 2009!!!

    Camila Emídio

  6. Pingback: De Mattar » Blog Archive » Projetos Finais do curso YouTube for Educators

  7. Pingback: De Mattar » Blog Archive » Retrospectiva 2008

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