As fast fashion becomes increasingly essential and civil discord continues to plague low-cost nations like Bangladesh and Cambodia, interest in sourcing from Central and South America continues to pique.
Peru, in particular, has made a name for itself as a quick-turn, high-quality manufacturing locale with model compliance standards and workmanship unmatched among many of its regional competitors.
On Wednesday, the Peruvian Tourism and Export Board, PromPeru will host its first Expo Peru trade conference in New York in honor of the fifth anniversary of the Peru-United States Trade Promotion Agreement, which allows for tariff-free two-way trade. The country will showcase the quality and variety of its natural fibers, namely Pima cotton and alpaca.
To provide a better understanding of Peru’s potential as a textile and apparel manufacturer, and the challenges it faces as an up and coming country, Sourcing Journal has assembled a comprehensive look at the industry and need-to-know information for doing business there.
Peru has become a viable sourcing locale for many reasons, but most notably its homegrown pima cotton (among the world’s best), its proximity to and duty free trade privileges with the U.S., and because it shares a time zone, same-day communication is simplified, which can be key in maintaining on-time production.
The country produces high-end and mid-tier blends, most often using modal, micromodal, tri-blends, polyester, cotton, pima and Supima, and knits are another key specialty in Peru.
Owed to its touted high-quality manufacturing, Peru has lured major brands like POLO Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, Hugo Boss, John Varvatos, Theory, Lilly Pulitzer, Lacoste, Juicy Couture and Burberry, among others.
Sharrie Lister Booker, vice president of production for Lilly Pulitzer, said she sources in Peru for both its quality standard and ease of communication. The brand has been making in Peru since 2001 when it started with solid knit tops, and in the last five years it has significantly expanded its sourcing in the country, according to Booker.
Lilly Pulitzer produces knit tops, knit dresses, and knit children’s wear in both prints and solids in Peru, and Booker said the company won’t make them anywhere else for two reasons: “The Pima cotton, and also that the product teams have spent a great deal of time over the last few years working with print mills in the Lima area so as to be able to produce the quality and colour palette of the Lilly Pulitzer prints in Peru. We are a brand known for our prints – so to be able to execute them correctly is a critical factor in determining the source base. From a technical perspective we could produce them in China, which is where we used to make them before moving heavily into Peru.”
Many factories in Peru are equipped for advanced processes and finishes like mercerization and techniques to minimize fabric shrinkage, and the care with which factories handle the product has been key for these high-quality brands.
For example, Booker said, “Because we do cotton and cotton blend knits there, control of shrinkage is very important.” She added, “The factories will panel wash the fabric, then leave it to relax before they cut, therefore controlling the shrinkage much better than just fabric roll washing.”
Booker added, “Also, since the Lilly Pulitzer head office is based in the Philadelphia area, it is very easy for my product development and production teams or the design team to get to Peru. It’s a direct 8-hour flight – versus 14-16 hours flying to China or India. We can be in the factories/mills more frequently. This has been an important factor in us building our business in Peru.”
Peru has enjoyed free trade privileges with the United States since 2009 under the United States—Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA).
In 2013, the country was the U.S.’s thirty-sixth largest trading partner, with $18.2 billion in total two-way trade, according to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). Exports to Peru totaled $10.1 billion, and imports $8.1 billion.
Peru’s five largest exports categories to the U.S. in 2013 were: precious stones (gold and silver) ($3.1 billion), mineral fuel (oil) ($1.5 billion), knit apparel ($590 million), vegetables (asparagus) ($377 million), and edible fruit and nuts (grapes, avocados, mangos) ($271 million).
The country also enjoys free trade with Canada, Europe, China and Japan, among others.
There are four to five major agents working with brands who want to manufacture in Peru, three of which are listed below.
TexAgency is a textile and apparel sourcing company for cut and sew knits and woven apparel products for customers in the U.S., Europe and South America. The company can ensure vendor factories are compliant, handle tech packs, negotiate pricing, offer design and product development services, handle production and quality assurance. TexAgency’s clients include: American Eagle, Kenneth Cole, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Polo Jeans and Quicksilver.
Location: Av. Salaverry 3636, Lima 17, Peru
Phone: (511) 264 2606
ASA TEXTILE SOURCING
ASA is one of Peru’s leading textile agencies offering factory and selection services to brands, plus price negotiation, quality assurance, documentation and shipping consolidations, for knits, woven’s and sweaters and accessories. Production executives and quality auditor at vendor facilities provide personal support to customers, and high end technology allows the firm to serve as an extension of the brand. ASA’s clients include: Vince, Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Gap and Chico’s.
Location: Av. Alvarez Calderon 185, 3er piso, San Isidro, Lima 27, Peru
Phone: (511) 221 1387
Thimble Sourcing has been in business for more than 35 years, and provides garment production and export services to catalog companies, department stores, wholesalers and retailers. The company’s clients include: Abercrombie & Fitch, Brooks Brothers, James Perse, Kate Spade, Lucky Brand Jeans and Men’s Wearhouse. In addition to its agents, Thimble also manufactures knits, wovens, sweaters and accessories.
Location: Av. Javier Prado Este 1894, Piso 2, Lima – Peru?
Phone: (511) 617 2500?
Contact: Juan Miguel Raffo | firstname.lastname@example.org?
TEXTIL DEL VALLE
Textil del Valle is one of Peru’s top factories, with all of the advanced technology and machinery necessary to keep its quality up to par. The factory produces knit products like basic T-shirts, henleys, polos, knit dresses, jackets and pants for brands like POLO, Lacoste, Juicy Couture and Burberry. All product is made with Peruvian Pima and Tanguis, and special blends like Pima/Alpaca and Pima/Modal.
It is a vertically integrated contract manufacturer with processes from knitting to finished garments. Del Valle is Worldwide Responsible Apparel Production (WRAP) certified, as well as Business Alliance for Secure Commerce (BASC), ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and compliant with AZO dyestuff regulations and CPSCIA requirements for garments. There is also an on-site water treatment facility.
Solid, engineered stripe and jacquard knits can be done here, piece dye, yarn dye and cross dye capabilities are available, and mercerizing and lafer sueding are available for very high-end finishes.
Total monthly capacity is 650,000 garments. Production minimums are 600 pieces per color, 2,400 pieces per style. Lead times for basics are from 45 to 60 days, and for fashion garments, 75 to 90 days.
INDUSTRIA TEXTIL DEL PACIFICO S.A.
Industria Textil del Pacifico, among Peru’s top ten textile and apparel companies manufactures knits, also using mostly premium Peruvian Pima and Tanguis cotton, and pima/modal blends, viscose, polyester and nylon.
Pacifico produces polos, T-shirts, henleys, hoodies, pants and shorts for brands like Under Armour, Vince, J.C. Penney and Urban Outfitters. Pique, jersey, fleece, French terry, double jersey, pointelles, thermal mesh and jacquards are among the company’s knit capabilities. Technology for special fabric finishes like wicking, anti-bacterial, UV protection, waterproof and transdry are also available. The company is also WRAP certified.
Its partnership with local mill, Texfina, has made the vertical company lean in terms of cost. Polo production totals roughly 400,000 units per month, and the company makes 700,000 to 1 million units worth of basics monthly.
Hialpesa, is one of the largest vertically integrated mills in Peru, specializing in manufacturing yarns, knit fabrics and garments. As a vertically integrated exporter, Hialpesa says its costs are competitive, its quality controlled and its lead times short.
The company primarily works with long and extra long staple cotton, and also spins blends with polyester, viscose, alpaca and rayon. Hialpesa was one of the first suppliers to offer organic cotton and is one of the largest exporters of organic garments in Peru. The company offers long staple organic Tanguis and extra long staple organic Pima. Hialpesa is WRAP and OE 100 certified.
In terms of knitting, Hialpesa can produce 220,000 kg (485,000 lbs) of fabric per month, and in terms of manufacturing, the company can produce 550,000 pieces of cut and sew knit garments every month. Product range includes knit T-shirts, polo shirts, rugby shirts, sweatshirts, pants and shorts.
Textimax is another vertically integrated facility in Peru with a rapid response time and versatility in terms of volumes, according to the company. It specializes in knits (straight-line, circular and chain) and can knit 800,000 kg (1.76 million lbs) of jersey, pique, interlock, rib, fleece and double face fabrics. Embroidery, printing and heat transfer services are also available.
The factory has an average production capacity of more than 100,000 garments per day, and 1-2 million pieces per month. Workers produce more than 200 styles and sample 1,200 garments per week. Minimum order quantities can be as low as 500 pieces per style/color.
The facility is both WRAP and BASC certified, and its clients include Hugo Boss, Under Armour, Banana Republic, Express and Victoria’s Secret.
Aventura manufactures garments in 100 percent cotton and cotton blends for private label brands. The factory specializes in polo shirts, rugby shirts, henleys in feed stripes, engineered stripes and marles. It has three vertically integrated facilities, for knitting, dyeing and garment production.
The facility is continuously innovating to find new ways to do vintage washes, ways to reproduce marle and different designs for polos in order to keep costs down and designs fresh. Production capacity for garments at Aventura is 250,000 pieces per month. Its clients include Ralph Lauren, Superdry, Nautica, Desigual and Anthropologie.
Labor + Compliance
With substandard working conditions rampant in the textile and apparel industry, compliance has become increasingly relevant to a company or brand’s identity and its ability to foster customer loyalty.
In Peru, labor standards are high and workers at many factories are afforded benefits and clean, safe work environments. At Textil Del Valle, for example, workers have access to a cafeteria, a bank, free on-site dental care and foosball tables in a garden courtyard for lunch breaks. At Hialpesa, workers are provided on-site daycare, scholarship funds for themselves and dependants, on-site dental, vision and medical care.
Michael Woodman, president and CEO of Industria Textile del Pacifico said compliance and labor check-ups in the country are frequent. The government comes every six months to check, and compliance authorization has to be renewed every 1 to 2 years.
According to Pedro Gamio Palacio, president of Peru’s export association, ADEX, the majority of factories and mills in Peru are WRAP certified, pay social security and child labor is not an issue.
The minimum wage for unskilled workers is $300 per month.
Why source in Peru?
If your brand places a high value on achieving quality and finer fits, and enjoys some flexibility with regard to costs, Peru could be a prime sourcing option.
For Booker and Lilly Pulitzer, the abundance of pima cotton has been a big advantage. “It is globally recognized as being one of the world’s finest cottons and our consumer in general is aware of this and has come to expect it from us.”
She added, “Peru having duty free status is a big plus, especially if you are making rayon-rich products. Mills in Peru are starting to develop more and more rayon-rich blend knits in an effort to capture this business, which is still largely Asia based. It is extremely attractive for Peru to be duty free in rayon as the duty rate into the USA for knit tops in particular is very high if you import from non-duty free countries such as China or India.”
And, price quotes in Peru are often very close to cost, with roughly a $0.20 to $0.30 difference on average, and negotiation comes with deliveries.
Jack Cohen, managing director of TexAgency in Lima acknowledges that Peru has been known for being pricey, but said the country is currently in a beneficial situation. Today, Cohen said, a polo is roughly $6 in Vietnam and $10 in Peru, a 40 percent price difference before duties, but since Peru enjoys duty free trade with the U.S., that difference in price is closer to 15 to 20 percent. “For the mid-tier to the upper, this is the place,” Cohen said. “Workmanship is the best in Peru by far, it’s more sophisticated.”