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Peruvian Pima Cotton: The Best Option for Manufacturers & Customers

When you say “Peru,” apparel sourcing professionals immediately think of Pima cotton. And they have many reasons to. This fiber is ideal for making comfortable, eye-catching and modern pieces.

Peruvian Pima cotton has been held in high esteem by U.S. consumers who recognize and appreciate it for its soft hand and durability. Its status is such that it presents an opportunity for brands and retailers to leverage the fiber’s properties for improved margins.

Consumers recognize, after some wear, how well Peruvian Pima cotton garments hold up, mainly because it doesn’t pill and manages to retain its bright luster. “The main difference is the staple length. Pima cotton staple length is around 1 inch, while ordinary cotton measures around half an inch,” said Ricardo Diaz of Textil Only Star SAC. Diaz also mentions that Peru’s climate and handling techniques play a big part. “Pima is harvested only by hand, which brings a cleaner fiber compared to industrial harvesting methods.”

Peruvian Pima Cotton

Ramón Véliz, vice president of the Apparel Committee at Lima Chamber of Commerce, added that Peruvian Pima cotton is also more versatile. “With regular cotton it is not possible to spin very fine yarns. With Pima, you can spin as fine as 100 singles, 120 singles or 140 singles,” he said.

While Véliz acknowledged that Peruvian Pima cotton costs about 10 to 15 percent more than regular cotton, he said this should be considered an investment, not an expense. “The difference really is small once you consider the quality upgrade. These garments can be sold in the retail market at higher prices,” he said.

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Diaz, who manufactures for companies like Armani Exchange, Tory Burch, Kenneth Cole and Rebecca Taylor, said the high quality of the fiber’s properties makes it a natural fit for products in a “premium” market. “Usually [our clients’] Pima cotton collections go to their higher end or premium line,” he said. “You can also see an important and growing niche in baby clothing, which takes advantage of Pima’s softness and natural anti-allergy properties.”

To ensure consumers are getting true value for their money, the Peruvian Trade Commission has recently stepped up its marketing efforts on behalf of Peruvian Pima cotton. It has created a Peru Textiles brand to promote the sale of garments using the fiber as it also continues to support Peruvian designs and brands around the world. This summer, the Commission showcased 22 manufactures at the Première Vision trade show in New York.

Peruvian Pima Cotton

Peru has positioned itself as a high-quality textile country thanks to good workmanship and premium materials such as Pima cotton, the Alpaca fiber and Tanguis cotton, which is also a long staple fiber highly valued by manufacturers as well as by consumers.

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