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Colombian Apparel Fair Hooks $62 Million in US Contracts, Aims for $100 Million

Colombiatex, Latin America’s largest textile, machinery, and apparel supplies trade show, impressed US buyers to the tune of $62 million in contracts during its 2013 exhibition last month. Of the 1,700 international buyers who attended the fair, the 231 US buyers represented the biggest spenders, by a long shot.

“We saw the biggest opportunities from US buyers and we hope they will reach $100 million next year,” Ricardo Vallejo, exports vice president of export promotion agency Proexport, told Women’s Wear Daily. “We also hope to attract more sourcing and production. The US continues to realize Colombia is a good supplier.”

The $62 million represents a huge increase–47%–when compared to the money spent by US buyers at Colombiatex in 2012. In light of recent supply issues in China, many US buyers are looking to expand sourcing elsewhere.

John Hernandez, sourcing manager at NY-based apparel brand Redcats USA, told WWD that Colombia’s products are more expensive than those manufactured in China, but are also of higher quality. Colombia also has lower delivery costs and faster times, thanks to a free-trade agreement with the US. As such, Redcats is one of the many companies looking to expand sourcing in Colombia.

The government of Medellín, Colombia’s second-largest city and cultural capital, is eager to attract these companies. It plays host to two apparel fairs (Colombiatex and Colombiamoda), has invested an estimated $800,000 in new designers, and has worked to develop a fashion high-street to rival São Paulo’sRua Oscar Freire.