At the same time that ColombiaModa was being held, there was another satellite show going on locally, not affiliated with ColombiaModa. The show is called Moda para el Mundo (Fashion for the World) which is kind of funny in retrospect because the show is proud to feature only local vendors. This show was really cool and on a lot of levels. Oh wait. I should probably back track a bit and explain how I came to discover this show because I have to introduce you to someone who figures prominently from here on out.
Tania Fuchs, who works for Optitex in Israel reads the blog every day (hi Tania, un abrazo fuerte!) and after she read I was going to Colombia, took it upon herself to contact the Optitex sales representative in Medellin (Tania is from Uruguay) to see if he could be of service to me when I was there. Now how’s that for service? I thought I was just buying their CAD program but I ended up with an extended family spanning international borders! His name is Fernando Jaramillo. We corresponded ahead of my arrival and he offered to take me around on Friday for a tour of Medellin. I’ll write about that in the Day 3 entry (ies). Anyway, we arranged to have a pre-meet up on Thursday which is how I found out about the Moda para el Mundo show and a lot about the local industry. Fernando and his wife showed up about noon on Thursday and whisked me away to that show for a couple of hours where they had their own booth.
This entry was amended 8/6/08 to add the photo below. Fernando is on the right. Fanny (his sister, not wife) is on the left. Fanny is wonderful. Within five minutes of meeting, she said felt she’d known me all her life. The feeling was mutual.
The show is really cool. It’s outdoors, completely tented with awnings, you can’t just walk in. It’s held in the garment district. They block off three separate adjoining streets. All of the businesses along the show are garment businesses. Fernando is a bit obsessive about his product. We’d pass by big plate glass windows and he’d say, “they have Optitex, and they have Optitex, and they have Optitex”. Before or after introducing me to someone, he’d always say if they had Optitex or not. Or even, what plotter they had. He represents Ioline too which is also the brand I bought (I love my plotter. Best. Packaging. Ever.). Don’t get him started on that either. He is so passionate that the owner of Ioline came down to meet him and of all things, ended up marrying his niece so now they’re officially family. He thought the way I chose Ioline was funny but smart (I called several plotter mechanics and asked which plotters they rarely had to repair; that’s how I pick all my machines). Anyway, Fernando explained that the garment industry there evolved in an interesting way several years ago. It used to be that the store fronts were inaccessible to the public being a factory and all but that someone got the bright idea that they should have their own stores. So now, the ground floors of each business are a full fledged retail store which they stock with their products (in addition to wholesaling and contract work) or products from their strategic partners, other businesses in the area. Pretty good idea. You wouldn’t know these were factory stores, they’re not sample outlets or anything (I mean real outlet stores, not those hideous mall constructs they tell you are outlet stores).
I guess that previous, these two shows were held together but had a falling out or something but it’s my understanding that everyone who goes to ColombiaModa also attends this show. They charge to get in ($10) but the thing is, anyone, even consumers can go. The show has three segments on the three different streets. One section is just sourcing with fabrics, buttons, laces, labels, CAD (Optitex of course) etc. Another section is just wholesale for retail buyers. The last section is cash and carry where consumers can buy products. That area was packed and I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. The thing that really impressed me about the show is that it was very well organized for a voluntary operation (ColombiaModa was stellar too). There’s no official show management company. It is put on by the local manufacturer members. Usually these kinds of events aren’t well done but this one was. They had a very nicely done show guide complete with listings and a street map listing each booth. Fernando took me around to meet the head guys who put on the show, all of them contractors and manufacturers. I met a wealth of wonderful people. They make everything. This show was big on sportswear, their version of urban and denim but covered the gamut. Speaking of urban, I don’t think I saw a single tattoo or piercing. I saw lots of silicone though. Cosmetic surgery seems to be just as big here as it is in Argentina and parts of Brasil. Like here, all of the young people are beautiful with beautiful teeth. I don’t think young people know how beautiful they are, how good looks have become ubiquitous. I don’t remember us being so pretty. Or maybe youth just looks prettier the older I get.
Anyway, I spoke to a couple of manufacturers and learned a few more things. I spoke with one designer manufacturer who produced a line of kid’s clothes. Well established there, she was interested in exporting but again, didn’t know how to go about it. I mentioned the ProExport program to her, I don’t think everybody knows about it. She mentioned a problem that I hadn’t considered, specifically sizing to the U.S. market. Boy, is that a subject to bring up with me or what. You’d be proud, I didn’t go nuts about it. Any of you, I’d tell you to shop the competition to get an idea of appropriate sizing but duh, that’s not something she can easily do there. It made me realize that there’s room for an enterprising individual from the US to consult on sizing. It sounds interesting but I probably won’t get into it. The young people there are about our same size here only not as fat as we are. There probably aren’t as many tall people there as there are here but some people my age or older were kind of short. By short I mean my height (5’5″).
The other thing I noticed is, some of these manufacturers will not be able to export their brands as is. Nope, they will need to rename their lines. A lot of them use names in English (similar to many DEs using French names) but they don’t translate well for cultural or social reasons. One example was Anorexy Jeans, a hugely popular brand there. I don’t think the brand name could expect the same reception here. Backlash would be more like it. One brand is called “Borax Sport”; I don’t see that going far either. Another was “Kike’s Sport”. Oops. In the same vein was “Afro Girl” (she was the sweetest lady, the kid’s designer; cute logo tho). Some brand names I don’t think worked in Spanish either, like “Yodo” which sounds too close to “iodo” or iodine. But hey, what do I know? If I get around to it, I’ll scan the pages of the show guide and post this to the forum because it’s chock full of contractors, most doing full package.
I stayed at this show for a couple of hours and then returned to ColombiaModa. I’ll put what I did on my return trip into part 2C. That one won’t be too long but I did find an interesting fabric manufacturer who makes towels and velour in custom jacquard patterns. I figure the diaper people will love that.