Trip report pt.3: Colombia January 2013

thread_planter_fashion-incubatordotcomContinuing on with my saga (pt.1 and pt.2) I pick up again in Medellin where we went for the Colombiatex trade show. If I’m not mistaken, it is the largest trade show in Latin America, spread over several pavilions. If you coordinate your stay with the show’s management, there is organized transport to and from from the show so it is very convenient to get there and back from your hotel.  The image at right is one of the show decorations, a planter made of a spool of cording. I thought it was a neat idea (I imagine that will go up on Pinterest soon).

The show itself is very high energy, not as loud as Project but just as vibrant. It wasn’t what I expected but it was good anyway. I had expected to find more contract services and equipment but it was mostly a fabric show. Designers come from all over Latin America to source their lines.  If I had any constructive criticisms to suggest to show management it would be to have more contractors exhibiting -I only found one dedicated contractor. There were some exhibitors who also did contracting (the bra fabric and cup suppliers mostly) but contracting bra manufacturing was an adjunct to their core business. For those of you producing bras, I think Colombia is the closest resource you’re going to find. Colombian bra and mold suppliers are keen on innovation and technology -see the photo of this unusual bra cup supplier below:


Another big push at the show in the way of technology was fabric printing on demand. There were a lot of vendors selling different systems. The one shown below prints on cottons and other natural fibers -meaning, not dye sublimation although that was also popular at the show.


You had two options at the show in the way of custom fabrics. One was to buy your own equipment (above). The other was to contract the job out. The latter could be the way to go for someone who needed art and technical assistance or perhaps, one who needed some design and color direction as well. Below is a photo of one such firm offering sublimation and fabric printing services. Like I said, very high energy show. This booth attracted a lot of the cool kids.


I found some vendors for items used in suit making. One of them was Spanish; he is very keen on selling in the U.S. but lacks representation here (let me know if you’re interested). He was the only firm I’ve been able to find that still sells tie interfacing (there is one company in NY but I’ve been unsuccessful in getting samples).

I was looking for Colombian suppliers for proximity’s sake but it was difficult to know where whomever was from without asking. A lot of exhibitors were sales representatives for larger international firms so you’d recognize the names. If you go to this show, keep one thing in mind: you may not be able to order from the vendors unless your production is being done within Colombian (or South America) borders because the given rep can only sell in his/her territory. If you want to export the fabric or what have you to the U.S., you’ll need to make this clear. If that’s the case, the rep may connect you with the North American office.  As challenging as this may be, it may be easier to order in the U.S. because you now have a referral. Referrals are everything in this business. If they don’t have a U.S. office and you can order in Colombia, you’re in luck because the minimums are lower (also, we now have a free trade agreement in place). There is also quite a bit of textile manufacturing in Colombia so you can find cool sources like custom velours and toweling. I will put a listing of resources in the sourcing section of the forum before the end of the week if you’re looking for something special.

At this point I wrote about Medellin itself but it got too long to include as one entry. More pictures and anecdotes tomorrow!

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  1. Sarah_H. says:

    Fascinating! Makes me wish I were younger. I am so glad to see this posting. I think it would be all kinds of useful to see postings like this from trade shows in other places, both in close proximity and further afield. I was much struck by the post you had once about a fabric buying trip to Hong Kong. I totally support keeping it here at home, but the garment industry is an international industry and we can certainly bring home the knowledge we acquire elsewhere.

  2. lynda baker says:

    Thank you very much for your report on the show in Colombia. I am very much interested in connecting with a pattern maker, and can not think of a better excuse to go to Colombia! I am very appreciative of the information and level of detail you are providing.

    Best regards,

    Lynda Baker

  3. Colleen says:

    Kathleen, You have created such a great job for yourself…and us! Thanks for the trip report. I appreciate you including Colombia’s culture with the report.

  4. Alizah says:

    Such an interesting read! Thanks for the wealth of detail you provide. It really helps when putting together that list of “trade shows I’d like to go to someday.”

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