The second day of the show I arrived late again, around 9:30. My contact with ProExport probably thought I was a late sleeper or lazy but as you all know, I was busy writing and posting before the show started. For me, 6:00 AM is sleeping late -much to my husband’s dismay. This second day, I concentrated mostly on sourcing.
Most of the contacts listed in my agenda were foundations (bra) manufacturers and athletic apparel, each with their own lines but also providing full package. Over and over again, I was shocked at the low minimums I encountered so maybe I should talk about that first and what I figured out. Oh, this is neither here nor there (off topic) but speaking of athletic apparel, Colombians are very health minded. Smoking is not common as it is known to be elsewhere. You don’t see many no-smoking signs though because it is implied that smoking is not permitted in most indoor public places like restaurants and lobbies and such. Rather like here in the US.
I’ve gone to the sourcing shows here in the US and it is not unusual that the offshore vendors have high to somewhat high minimums. What I discovered was, that many (if not most) of the contractors in Colombia, don’t know how to go about arranging to do a trade show in the U.S. or even, which trade shows they should attend. None of them (designers included) had ever heard of MAGIC much less any other shows. In other words, if you go to Colombia, you are likely to find much lower minimums. An example of what I would call a low minimum is 150 units total with a limit of five sizes and three or four colorways. One vendor said he had no minimums. Just one. I liked that vendor very much. I’ll post the contact information of each enterprise in the forum. In sum, the offshore vendors we see at shows in the US are much larger enterprises and have time to work out the kinks in the system.
The first vendor I approached, called Angel, made brassieres and matching panty sets showing a lot of cute styles. They do full package and offer a range of services in house everything from patterns to packaging. They buy all of their inputs from local vendors and can get whatever colors you want, dyeing fabrics and trims to match. They did have cute fashion forward samples. I asked about bra cups since that’s been a source of controversy around here lately. They stock these in A-D cups but can get others but probably not the largest sizes which would have to be custom molded. I asked about cup molding services and got a quote of ten to thirteen million pesos. Don’t let that scare you; that runs $5,620 to $7,306 USD per mold.
The next vendor was called Olas. The gerente was a really young guy but they’ve been in business thirty years (another young whippersnapper taking over from Mom & Dad) and I was impressed because they’re certified by Bureau Veritas. By this time I’d learned to ask not if they had CAD systems, but which one they had. Olas, like nearly everyone else, does use CAD. That’s another story that I plan to get to later. This company does full package fashion athletic apparel using intelligent textiles (technical performance). They produce everything for Leonisa which is a popular well established athletic apparel brand for women. If you want stock type items with little in the way of fashion forward details (meaning, they have an existing pattern they can use and have sewn), minimums are low and negotiable. I didn’t get a figure but for new products for which they do the patterns (custom etc), the minimums are 100-200 units. Also, when someone gave me minimum quotes here, the implication was not that this was minimums for one size per color but various colors (usually three, maybe four) and four or five sizes. In other words, minimums were quoted per style.
Shoot. I had some photos of products to show the seam quality but I guess those are on my laptop. I don’t remember all I had but I may amend this entry after I go home or tomorrow.
Another vendor I met with was Corpo. They are a vertically integrated full package producer of knit fabrics and garments. They also do custom knit patterns and everything from patterns to packaging. They use Gerber. For custom fabrics, their minimums are 80 kilos (yardage is often quoted in kilos rather than meters) per color. For cut and sew, their minimum is 60 units per style. By the way, the Spanish word for “styles” as we mean it, is “referencias”. I don’t remember them much at this point but I have a notation that I liked them and that they do a lot of hand holding for first time exporters.
I really shouldn’t mention the next vendor (Lady Lady) but I will for the purposes of example, you have some BS-ers there as you do here. I thought this guy was creepy. He made latex molded girdles. These are a common item in the Hispanic culture, called “fajas”. I can’t hear that word without replaying this horrible radio advert for the “faja fantastica!” that I heard in Houston or someplace else eons ago. He went on and on about how everything was hand made and to my perhaps ignorant eye, it looked spit out of an injection mold. Complete with nibs. What was there to do by hand? Push the “pour” button? Hit “set”? Lift it out of the mold?
This next vendor Saraly, I liked a lot. There was some overlap with his product line and the one above it, another reason I don’t feel bad about not being more specific about the party above. This vendor does private label foundations including corsets. He had a neat style that was intended to wear over, rather than under your clothes with lace around the neckline, shaped rather like German dirndls. I mean dirndl dresses, not dirndl skirts, a traditional German costume. He had no minimums and would do just one. He had patternmaking CAD software, was experienced with export and was available for hand holding. He had some unusual capabilities too. He can laminate fabric to latex and furthermore, can sublimate patterns and designs onto them as well as dyeing. I did like this guy, very low key, the polar opposite of Lady Lady. Funny that their booths were right next to each other.
This entry was amended 8/6/08 to add the photo of the described dirndl (corset) top. It didn’t come out very well. This style can be dyed or sublimated with your design.
At this point I left the show to attend another local show, a five minute drive by taxi. I think this is a good stopping point for this entry and will start working on the next one.
You can find the contact information, names, email and web addresses of these vendors here in the forum.