Medellin Day 2C

Continuing from yesterday’s entry, I spent most of the time upon my return to ColombiaModa sourcing fabrics and other resources. I was getting tired by now. Everybody was, vendors and visitors alike. I can tell you that unlike some shows (here) I’ve been to where the sales reps seem to not even want you to stop, I only had that experience once here but then had another experience that totally made up for it. There was no way that these ladies (at right) were going to permit me to pass by their booth.

I don’t mean that in an obnoxious way either. They weren’t pushy in the slightest. They just wanted to visit and never even asked me if they could show me the line. The lady on the right was my favorite. The label is Acanto (could mean various things, not sure which); the DE is Claudia Ramirez (far left above). She makes high end pajamas. She does all the design and pattern work having taken over the factory her mom had started. Like every other designer I’ve met here, she went to design school. Wild huh?

Speaking of education, I wanted to mention something you probably don’t know but in the rest of Latin America, Colombia is lauded with the same awe and reverence that we have towards Paris. Did I ever tell you about a job I had in Ecuador about ten years ago? The first week’s training was annoying and constantly derailed. The pattern makers I was training spent most of their time trying to figure out devious ways they could trick me into admitting I was really from Colombia since “everybody knows” that’s where the best pattern makers come from. Incredibly, my ability to speak English was seen as further proof of my Colombian nationality since again, everybody knows that all the Colombians, amid their languid strolls on water, chat amiably to each other in English. Seriously. Parisians and Colombians are gods. Perhaps you can see why I couldn’t pass up a trip there. But I digress.

I found a company called Dynamic Textile, a veritable soup to nuts full package operation that makes their own knit and woven fabrics out of nylon, cotton, Lycra, poly and rayon in (nearly?) any possible design, color or pattern. Mostly they produce their own line for private label so buyers can select from the range available or can have their own styles cut and sewn. They specialize in female apparel from children’s wear all the way up to plus sizes. Specializing in small chain stores and runs, their minimums are 150 units in no more than three colors and five (or was it four?) sizes. They use Gerber.

The next vendor I visited was Threads & Weaves of Colombia. Finally, I have a resource for toweling that people keep asking for. I wish I’d known more about toweling but they educated me about open and closed loop as well as dye processing. They produce towels -or yardage- in 100% cotton in cut or closed loop, velour or terry and jacquard or plain. They also dye to spec using fiber reactive and pigment dye. They’re very interested in sustainability and are proud of their downstream management in spite of there being few regulations that require it. They’ve won at least one award that I found on the web for humanitarian practices (they never mentioned it). It’s a woman owned, relatively new business. [Many of these businesses were women owned. Colombia is a modern progressive society, not a macho backwater a lot of people might think.] Here are some photos to show you their capacity in weaves. They can also apply prints (not pictured).

This was the crazy thing, I know that people here are crazy for bamboo velour. I asked if they could do this too but they said they didn’t know where to get thread to experiment with it but were open to the process. I can just imagine what some of the baby products people could do with custom loomed jacquard bamboo velour. Since they seemed amenable to bamboo, I asked if they’d heard of kapok. They didn’t know anything about it but I explained it is sometimes described as “cotton cashmere”. I do have a source for that and am trying to get them connected. I plan to follow up on this. I think kapok jacquard velour would be to die for. If it pans out, I may give this all up and start selling it. Heh. Minimums for custom goods are a bit higher (much less for stock items) running 1,200 meters in a maximum of three colors. They’ll also produce private label towels and bathrobes if that’s what you want.

Oh, speaking of modern and progressive, at one point when I was walking outside with my sponsor, a clothing worker’s union decided to take the opportunity to stage a demonstration for better pay and working conditions. They do that here too. It was a very civil gathering, nothing crazy like you’d see here but still, my sponsor mentioned she was very embarrassed by it, that it made them look bad. I told her that in my opinion, it was yet further proof that the expression of dissenting viewpoints are tolerated. I thought it bode well for them, not poorly.

Of course, I had to scout the book vendors, naturally. I was shocked, there really weren’t any. No vendors with technical books anyway. The closest thing available were the trend-book booths (2). Boy, this was huge business there! The booths were always packed, plenty of room to sit and browse the titles too.

I’m not sure I like this. I think it’s why, in part, everything looks so homogeneous. Everything looks the same, they’re using the same trend sources. I did see a greater variety in styling with bridge and designer brads but the sportswear and casual apparel was nothing different from what you’d see being sold in the U.S.. I mean, not that I could tell. And you know me, I’m lucky if my socks match -each other (sporting a yellow and a lime green one today). Oh, and not wanting to embarrass any of you, I didn’t wear socks at all when I was there. Hose and black mary janes, the same pair of hose I bought to wear to MAGIC in February 2007.

I did see several magazines being repped and got a sample version of a sister publication (Facil) put out by the same company that prints the Spanish Patron magazine for home sewers. Other than sourcing directories (I got two different ones, both free) I didn’t see any magazines that one would not see in a good bookstore in a largish U.S. city. I’m not sure this homogeneity in publications is good either. The trend towards regionalism is projected to increase but I’m not seeing signs of that yet.

Okay, I think that’s about all the coverage for the sourcing at ColombiaModa. It’s my understanding the better show to attend for sourcing is ColombiaTex the 22nd-24th of January.

Oh wait. There’s one source left and I really hate to say this but I found this really annoying. Cotton Incorporated was there and they had a huge booth. All of the promotional materials were in English, nothing in Spanish. How embarrassing. The booth was dead too. The woman in the booth didn’t seem to care either. She was a stark contrast to anyone I met on my entire visit. I did pick up a nicely done multi-fold largish trend report with actual thread colors for fashion and interiors. Ironically enough, one trend listed was “tunnel vision”. Heh.

Again, the contact information for these vendors can be found in the forum.

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  1. Lisa Bloodgood in Portland says:

    Aaaaaaaaaaahhhh!!!! Now I need a jillion dollars and access to the forum! :-)

    Wonderful reports, Kathleen! It sounds like you had /have been having a really good time.

    Is it really hot there?

  2. Nadine says:

    “. . . everybody knows that all the Colombians, amid their languid strolls on water, chat amiably to each other in English . . ”

    Hahaha! Classic! :D

  3. Penny says:

    I remember as a kid vacationing in Florida and going to a restaurant named “The Kapok Tree”. It was a spectacular place with all of these themed rooms you could eat in. The restaurant was named after a huge Kapok tree in front which I remember had all these pod type things with milkweed like stuff inside. The tree was massive with mangrove type roots. I never knew you could make fabric out of it.

  4. Valerie Burner says:

    “The Kapok Tree” restaurant is the same thing that came to my mind when I read that! I spent most of my life in Florida, and the reason you don’t see a lot of them around is that the young trees grow huge thorns on their trunks. Not good for playgrounds or parks! I always give away or recycle all my clothing. And I must admit that I am still wearing things that are older than most of the people commenting here! I still love the sweater I got in Stockholm in 1984! And when I moved into my first apartment and could not afford clothes, I raided the local Goodwill box nearby. The donating of clothing is a very worthwhile thing to do. I got a lot of mileage out of those clothes!

  5. J C Sprowls says:

    The natives refer to young kapoks (w/ the thorns along the trunk) as “Dr Seuss trees”. And, they are almost as prolific as the palmetto trees.

    I always thought it ironic that when homes were landscaped, they’d rip out the native palmettos (read: free) and replace them Queen palms (read: much, much money).

    Now, I know that palmetto bugs live in the fronds of the palmetto tree. But… there are so many good uses for that plant, even if it’s only to relocate it to a more aesthetically appealing location in the yard.

    {For the record: bugs don’t pester me. But, palmetto bugs make my skin crawl. Still… if I were a die-hard treehugger like I was raised, I’d find some way to tolerate them. Om mani padme :-) }

  6. Karen C says:

    Unbelievable that Cotton Inc. has a booth in a Spanish-speaking country and all of their literature is in English. That strikes me as arrogant. Americans should be (and I think are starting to be) more respectful.

    I absolutely love the towels. Makes me want to add robes to my line.

  7. butcherbaby says:

    valerie- i lived in olympia washington for a few years in the 90s, and the thing i loved the best was that outside the local food co-op were stacks of wooden bins named the “free boxes”. each of them was labeled (houswewares, kitchen, childrens clothing, womens clothing etc) and people would drop off their unwanted items for other people to have, gratis. it was awesome, i both donated and partook of the bounty. i wish they had more things like that around.

  8. raghav chhabra says:

    hey goddess,
    i am just three days old on this website and really cant resist getting back to it once i reach back home.i am sure i’ll have a lot to learn from u thru this site.keep up the good work and keep spreading knowledge as it only in creases when you give more of it.

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