Companies like Scotch & Soda, Champion, Zumba, Neiman Marcus, Jockey, JCPenny, Old Navy, are examples of companies that are sourcing in Colombia. Many other companies are beginning to source textile and apparel from Colombia, since the country offers multiple benefits to fashion companies within the United States.
Why are companies choosing to source in Colombia? It’s located in one of the fastest growing regions in the world and offers an ideal place to do business. Just two hours from Miami, five hours to New York, and eight hours from California, Colombia is easy to access via the many international flights that head to the area. Colombia is ranked first in sustainable development among Latin American countries due to its high support on business productivity and low risk of political instability. Investors can be sure that government promotions and rebates will continue to be available in the future. The country also has a growing pool of working age individuals that have the ability to handle the complicated work involved in dealing with sewing, cutting fabrics, and other aspects of creating fashion products.
Currently, Colombia has 13 free trade agreements and is currently working on a couple more. For the past few years, Colombia has had a free trade agreement with the United States and the textiles and apparel exports have grown more than 10% within the last couple of years. More than 44 different textiles and apparel products are exported to the United States, such as underwear, children’s dresses, jeans, shapeware, swimwear, and more.
One of the main benefits of sourcing in Colombia is the years of experience the country has. While many companies have sourced from countries in the Eastern hemisphere, countries in the Western hemisphere, such as Colombia, have improved their service and capabilities, offering excellent sourcing opportunities for fashion companies. Columbia is expanding its textile inputs, particularly performance fabrics. Regional packaging and trims are also flexible and improving. Even finishing treatments continues to improve.
Colombia offers shorter delivery and lead times, as well as flexible production and fast reaction product lines. When compared to sourcing in the East, Colombia offers fashion companies faster transit times, since it’s closer to the United States market than Eastern countries are. Although Eastern countries may have lower wages, Colombia offers improved production efficiency, particularly since there are fewer communication delays. Colombia also focuses on social responsibility, providing multiple certifications, such as ISO 14000, ISO 9000, BAC, and WRAP.
Another benefit fashion companies can enjoy when sourcing in Colombia is the vertically integrated industry. Colombia is able to offer R&D, get fibers, yard, textiles and trims, while offering design, manufacturing, and logistics. This offers clients improved versatility, quick reaction times, better efficiency, and high quality products. Many of the companies within Colombia have their own in-house design team, which can work with American companies to come up with quality, innovative designs.
For fashion companies that want to source to countries offering fast fashion solutions, quality control, and social responsibility, Colombia offers an excellent choice. With the free trade agreement between the U.S. and Colombia, sourcing to Colombia is an excellent, cost-effective option that companies should consider.
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Photo: Colombia Embassy