Rubber Soul: Galeria Melissa in Sao Paulo

An up close and personal look at the impressive Galeria Melissa in Sao Paulo.

Shopping is big in Sao Paulo. With a population of almost twenty million, it’s Brazil’s largest city. It is said when Paulistanos aren’t working they’re clubbing, and when they’re not clubbing they’re shopping at a samba-driven pace.

And no wonder. My time spent shopping along Rua Oscar Freire in the chic Jardin’s neighborhood (it’s among the ten most luxurious street’s in the world), was a heady experience. Not the least because my visit coincided with Sao Paulo’s Fashion Night Out and an appearance by super-supermodel, Gisele Bündchen. Brazilian bodaciousness aside (one of my purchases included a kiss from a beautiful sales assistant upon the success of my credit card approval), sustainable fashion and beauty appear firmly entrenched in the consumer mindset here.

I’ve discovered cool cutting-edge design aesthetics from Brazilian designer brand Osklen, jeweler Mana Bernardes, and the booming natural beauty brand, Natura – all renowned for their smart, eco-friendly stance.

The atrium entrance’s artwork illustrates Jason Wu’s recent lace work detailing.

Leather goods are the typical recommendation for wares to bring back from Sao Paulo, but carting home dead animal skins doesn’t hold much appeal for me. What I am interested in packing in my suitcase home is a pair of the hip, brightly colored jelly shoes that can be found at the impressive Galeria Melissa.

The flagship Melissa shoe store has the world’s largest selection of the high design footwear made from a recyclable and non-toxic type of plastic. The Brazilian shoemaker also practices fair trade and zero waste in production.

Are plastic shoes the future of footwear? 

There’s something universally appealing about the tactile, pop art-esque shoes that inspires passion from collectors and celebrities like Pamela Anderson, Leona Lewis and both Katies (Perry and Holmes). It’s unlikely that these shoes are ever thrown in the recycling bin (even though you could).


Metamorphosis: Changing our idea of what shoes can be.

Seeing the entire collection together at once is a true visual feast. A dizzying array of gladiator sandals, flats, platform and four inch heels adorned with plastic hearts, butterfly wings and feathers are on display alongside full lines from collaborations with acclaimed designers such as the Campana Brothers, Karim Rashid and Vivienne Westwood.

The entire collection of Vivienne Westwood’s collaboration with Melissa Shoes.

The heart-quickening, near psychedelic shopping experience is aided muito by the futuristic looking bubble-shaped stands and the rave-enhanced interior and atrium artwork, which is updated with new graphics from guest artists every three months. Not to mention being helped along by the overwhelmingly intoxicating aroma of tutti-frutti, which the shoes are known for.

Chic, cruelty-free (and I can attest), incredibly comfortable shoes – what more can you ask for? 


The  psychedelic retail experience is aided by futuristic looking bubble-shaped stands.




Rowena Ritchie

Rowena is EcoSalon’s West Coast Fashion Editor and currently resides in San Francisco, CA.