In an era when the balance of speed and quality is a top priority for design and sourcing executives, brands in the USA and around the world are increasingly turning to Peru for their manufacturing needs.
At last week’s Première Vision trade show in New York, the vast capabilities of the country were on display by 22 Peruvian exhibitors. There was also a special presentation and panel discussion last Tuesday evening, providing insights into why brands, both large and small, count Peru as a top production destination. Moderated by Sourcing Journal founder Edward Hertzman, the brands on hand explained why they’ve chosen Peru and shared their experiences working with the factories there.
Deciding where to produce can be a complex task with many determining factors. John Varvatos has found success manufacturing in Peru by simply playing to its strengths. As a result, senior design director of John Varvatos, Martin Diment, said Peru’s natural fibers make it a go-to for both its upscale Collection as well as its Star USA line. “We get the best products from the best countries. Peru is important for a number of reasons. Obviously it is the best place to source Pima—and Alpaca is very important as well,” he said. Diment also noted that Made in Peru on their label is especially important.
Dana Davis, director of design and production for Mara Hoffman, agrees Peru is ideal because of the fibers found there and she enumerated a number of additional practical reasons that make it an optimal country to produce. “Peru is great due to production and timelines and accessibility given that it’s in the same time zone,” she said. “And for us as a small brand, they’re great dealing with minimums as well.”
The innovations in Peru also make it a valued partner for fiber company Lenzing. “In Peru, we see multi-blend yarns. The spinners are there, and they understand how to work with our fibers, which is really important,” said Tricia Carey, Lenzing Fibers director of business development, denim. “We look at the capability of the country. The spinning capabilities are modern, and they’re using the latest technologies.”
To showcase this craftsmanship, Carey brought along a sample of Inca Indigo, a collection using Tencel yarns that was designed, spun, knitted and sewn in Peru. “It’s a great way to show indigo dyed yarns and laser printing technology,” she said.
Davis also touted the skill sets and knowledge found in Peru, where she said factories understand her fashionable designs and are very collaborative, proactively offering their own ideas to make the final product even better.
These aspects also resonate with Liz Hershfield, chief supply chain officer at Bonobos, which manufactures about 70 percent of its knits in Peru. “The product and fabric development is huge. They’re always spot on and amazing,” she said. “Their ability to develop how we want, it saves us time and allows us to innovate. It’s a huge resource.”
The good news for brands of all tiers, from luxury to mass, and of all sizes, from emerging to big box, is that Peru is quite accessible in terms of price. Though Hershfield is now at Bonobos, she said during her tenure at Gap Inc., the company regularly produced Old Navy goods in Peru. “It’s not that much more expensive,” she said, in comparison to other countries, adding that Peru’s free trade agreements with the USA, Canada and Europe makes goods produced there competitively priced due to its duty-free status.
In his experience, Diment has found costs in Peru comparable—and sometimes even better than other destinations. “I know, for example, we’re loving combining the finer micron Alpaca with Pima, knitted into jacquards when we do novelty pieces. If I were to produce the same thing in Hong Kong or Italy, I know it’s cheaper in Peru.”
Besides, Diment says, when producing goods, it’s always important to remember you get what you pay for. “You can always go cheaper but it’s the full package. They have a real know-how in knits,” he said. “When you look at the product at the end of the day, the perceived value is there.”
Part of the value of the partnership with Peru for Mara Hoffman is the peace of mind working with fair trade factories in the region. “At the end of the day, there are people behind the clothing. Having that ethos in our brand and aligning with a fair trade factory, it gives you the reassurance that they’re already in line [with those ideals],” she said. “We feel good about partnering with those factories.”
The Peruvian manufacturing industry provides the fashion world with a quick response to demand with short lead and fast turnaround times as well as competitive pricing. Also, Peru has a long history of creative know-how, understanding of the global market, focus on environmental and social responsibility and the best raw materials. Many reasons to make Peru the best partner in the garment industry.
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