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Producing in Peru Helps Brands Meet Shoppers’ Sustainability Demands

Communicating sustainability to increasingly knowledgeable and conscious consumers can be a challenge. Without the right data and proof to back up claims, companies can face accusations of greenwashing.

Los Angeles-based contemporary women’s wear label Nation LTD is feeding this appetite for more information by sharing the provenance of its products. And as it pulls back the curtain on its production practices, the brand’s choice to partner with Peruvian factories has helped it deliver a greater level of transparency.

During a discussion with Sourcing Journal president Edward Hertzman and Peru Textile Exporters Association president Juan Jose Cordova, Nation’s CEO Joe Krafka noted that Peru’s vertically integrated production makes the origins of garments more traceable down to the raw materials. In addition, Nation’s partners in Peru have invited the brand to visit and see the factories in person, enabling the brand to in turn share photos and firsthand details with consumers.

“Manufacturing in Peru is an excellent source for us,” said Krafka. “It’s very responsible, and they’re very engaged with their employees and the impact on the environment. So for us, it’s a great partnership, and we’re growing our businesses as a result.”

Peru is aiming to be the most sustainable apparel production country in the world by 2025, centered on five target pillars. While most of these goals are focused on environmental responsibility, such as energy and water use, the action plan also includes fair labor. “We work together in all the compliance of labor, fair trade,” said Cordova. “Also, we believe—all the companies that form part of this association—in the triple bottom line in our business model: planet, people and profits.”

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From Peru’s perspective, sustainability goes hand-in-hand with quality, since well-made garments last longer. In a joint effort between the government and the private sector, the Peru Textiles brand is being repositioned to stand for quality with sustainability.

“Consumers will not pay for sustainability alone,” said Cordova. “We must offer a great, high-quality product first and then with responsibility.”

One of the pluses of producing in Peru is craftsmanship. With a textile sector that dates back thousands of years, the nation’s garment industry has kept its traditions of natural fibers and handwork alive.

In an example of the quality of execution, Nation’s factory partners use piece dyeing rather than garment dyeing. Along with design, this has given the brand another point of differentiation. “Our garments wash better, they wear better, and we have better longevity,” said Krafka. “Our customer realizes that, and our repurchase rate is exceptional.”

Peru-based manufacturers also give their North American clients a competitive advantage when it comes to communication and speed, since they are located in the same hemisphere. Speaking of his experience with one of his Peruvian partners, Krafka noted that he is in constant contact with the team, and the relationship has only grown stronger in recent months.

As part of its approach to Covid, Nation reduced its product range by 30 percent, and the brand’s supplier was able to help it make the pivot. “Being responsive and being reactive to what we wanted to put in the market has really fueled our business,” said Krafka. “Everybody was impacted; simultaneously, we were less impacted, and we were outperforming and outdelivering people.”

Click the image above to watch the video to learn more about why Nation chose Peru over other sourcing destinations and what consumers really want when it comes to sustainability.