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Peru: Vertically Integrated and Forward Thinking

In today’s competitive sourcing arena, Peru remains an ideal destination for producing high-quality apparel. In addition to its 5,000-year history in textiles, the country continues to evolve to address current sector needs like speed to market and synthetics production.

Eduardo Ferreyros, Peruvian Minister of Foreign Commerce and Tourism, noted Peru is an extremely easy partner for the U.S. given its proximity, that there is little time difference, and the cultures are very similar. Moreover, the country is a member of 19 free trade agreements—including one with the U.S.—and it continues to improve its processes and infrastructure.

“We’re working to be more competitive by making business easier through things like modernizing our customs procedures,” he said. “We’re also working to have a better connection with the world by having the best ports and attracting new airlines.”

The main competitive advantage of the Peruvian apparel industry, which supports 350,000 jobs, is its level of integration. The production chain, starting with the fiber to the yarn and fabric manufacturing and the making of garments, is fully integrated. Working in this way means the country is positioned for brands looking for rapid response.

This feature is strengthened by the constant technological modernization of plants and the high level of specialization that entrepreneurs and workers have reached, while also staying true to its roots and supporting local artisans with hand-knitting. This reflects a real mix of the modern with age-old craftsmanship.

Peru is home to some of the best raw materials in the world: Alpaca, Pima Cotton and Vicuna. Worldwide Peru is known for its expertise in natural fibers as well as mixing them into a variety of blends, such as with silk, wool, bamboo, linen, Modal, Tencel. Over the last eight years, the country has also started to push into synthetics like nylon and poly as well, driven by the market’s focus on athletic wear.

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This adoption of synthetics shows how adaptable Peru is, according to Ferreyros. “We have the ability to react to changes,” he said. “We have flexibility.”

The Alpaca difference

Peru is home to 80 percent of the world’s Alpaca production. And the country is spreading the word about the ways in which the fiber has evolved through its Alpaca Peru branding initiative.

“Alpaca is now thinner and the colors are brighter,” said Conrado Falco, director of the Trade Commission of Peru in NY. “People say they know alpaca because their grandmother had it, but now it’s young and fresh.”

Alpaca is super soft, breathable, hypoallergenic and very versatile. Its fibers naturally come in a range of 22 colors from black through variations of grays and browns to white. When placed in expert Peruvian hands, the textures, weights and silhouettes are infinite.

Currently in Peru, specialized programs are being developed to help breeders optimize Alpaca rearing, genetic management and improve fiber selection, among others. The goal of such efforts is to advance the entire process in order to better the economic situation of Alpaca herdsmen in the Andean region and their families that rely solely on this industry to live.

Peru also focused on environmentally friendly, sustainably oriented and socially responsible production.

Peru’s textile and manufacturing industry not only has a positive impact on the lives of the farmers it supports, but also all the people in the production chain, from yarn makers to spinners and weavers to the factory employees, too. It is a model country, setting the standard with quality of life for its workers through its high labor standards.

The majority of Peruvian factories have international certifications, such as GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production) and Fair Trade certifications, among others.

The textile and apparel industry has been one of the beneficiaries of Peru’s economic stability, and along with the increase of its production and exports, it has modernized, expanded and diversified its supply.

“It is very easy for companies to move to a new country, so we have to be competitive,” said Ferreyros. “Some countries just have labor. We have production lines from fiber to final production, [which makes] us flexible.”

The best of Peruvian manufacturing and design will be on display at Première Vision New York from July 18 to 19 thanks to PROMPERÚ and the Peruvian Trade Commission in New York.