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Colombia & South Florida Fashion & Textile Industry Rebounds – As Trump’s Trade Tariffs Escalate Today To $250 Billion.

To Circulate to 7,500 Fashion Writers and bloggers Tuesday – August 28, 2018-  6 AM EST

Miami.FL. / The Inex * Colombiamoda Fashion Week un-spooled July 25 -27 in the bucolic, post modern city of Medellin,Colombia. Attendance included 56,000 fashion-forward visitors, 13,000 domestic and international buyers, representing 13 countries.  Collections if the next ‘must have’ trends and soon to be classic designs were showcased by 500 exhibitors  and consecutive around the clock catwalks playing to capacity visitors of 1000 or more.  serenaded by man of the moment, JBalvin, a Medellin native.

Colombia’s  Fashion Week coincided with a post in Business of Fashion confirming, “A new round of proposed tariffs on Chinese goods ,with 200 pages of items including apparel and textiles, were valued at a whopping USD $250 billion!”

With over a third of US clothing imported from China, and despite assurances from the US Administration that the new tariffs would  impose “maximum pain on China, minimum pain on consumers,” downplaying the inevitability of price hikes and disruptions in supply chains is naive if not blatantly counter-intuitive.

Said Hun Quach, Vice President of International Trade for the Retail Industry Leaders Association, “Consumers, businesses and American jobs dependent on trade are  in the cross hairs of an escalating global trade war.”  The disruption of supply chains, the imposition of exorbitant tariffs (dubbed the “Trump Tax”) resulting in wavering confidence in exports are but a few reasons North Americans will predictably be suffering soon from sticker shock at the cash register. While many of the current administration’s  supporters may bear the brunt the agile among us are seeking alternatives. Colombia making for the ideal trade partner.

The new duties are “a reckless strategy that will boomerang back to harm US families and workers,” said David French, the National Retail Federation’s senior V.P.  for government relations, while laying the blame at the president’s shiny, elevator shoes.

As adversity is the mother of invention, Colombia’s apparel industry is joining forces with South Florida and California fashion makers and purveyors with a palatable push back to fill the looming gap.  Kacie Schweikhardt,  a curator for  the California based Pure Lorraine (PL+US) attended Colombiamoda, produced in part by Inex and Procolombia  whose mandate is to advance economic that is sustainable and transparent.  She attended Colombiamoda, prospecting for new eco-friendly collections to represent.   She observed, “Colombia’s fashion, apparel and textile industry is in ascendance.  It is positively positioned to assume the mantle as a top tier trade and sourcing partner, especially in Florida, the eastern seaboard and California.”

Colombia has historically been a major player in the manufacture of polyester, denim, leather attire, private label brands and accessories, with exports in 2017 rounding out at USD $225 million. “Colombia is assuming an aggressive stance with an eye on reversing the trend toward throwaway and fast fashion, that continues to decimate our planet. “We are developing a strategic alliance with a plastic waste recycler to manufacture a polyester that is a better quality, more durable and environmental friendly. We can actually tell you how many plastic bottles were recycled to make your shirt!, says. Dan Haime, Senior VP of Global Sales for his family owned and operated Textilia, S.A.S. “Granted it is a bit more expensive, and it remains to be seen if North American consumers are willing to put their money where their mouths are when it comes to investing in technology to reduce waste for the good of our planet,”  according to third generation Colombia textile manufacture Dan Haime of Textilia with headquarters in the capital city, Bogota. “Colombia’s relevance as a source and supplier of customized fabric, whether high grade polyester, denim, cotton, or other synthetics, and all manner of finished goods is on the rebound after a two year slump. The growth spurt is measurable and in direct proportion to restraints on the import of wearable goods from Asia, specifically China.”

A  downturn in Colombia export and domestic sales over the last two years may best be attributed  to “our adapting  to advanced technology, shifts in retail trends from brick and mortar  to ‘see now – buy now’ online commerce, and  ‘a Denim  slowdown,’  according to Natalie Kingham  of MatchesFashion.com.  With the  downturn demand for denim as the fabric de rigueur did not bode well for Colombia’s mainstay textile.

 

Caption: Textilia SAS , this is not your typical seamstress and alterations shop.

“As the trade war escalates, companies are looking to move production closer to reduce freight costs with higher levies on the horizon.  We in the Fashion industry are re calibrating by sourcing domestically and redefining the business that is   ” chimed in Jennifer Sclafani, President of Showroom-305 based in the Miami Fashion Collective located in the  burgeoning Fashion Allapattha Design District (FAD.D) .  “Entering its third decade, Colombiamoda, la Semana de Moda ® and the concurrent Textiles 2 Expo are the most significant fashion confab in the Latin American Hemisphere,” according to Sergio Echeverria, Fashion Coordinator – Pro Colombia – Los Angeles.

The bounce back in 2018 was palpable. Colombia is poised to revitalize its industry with superlative designers,  “that are not only ahead of the trends but are, in fact, creating them,” according to Ismael Trivino of ProColombia- Miami.

SOME OF THE MOST MEMORABLE LOOKS – COLOMBIA MODA

Hot on the runways and adorning the audiences this last week were gender-less vertical vintage stripes in cocoa, ivory and mandarin.  Jeans, tight white T’s accessorized  by splashy, juicy colored kimonos were everywhere on and off the catwalk.   From swimwear to evening wear there was more goldenrod than a field of, well, goldenrod.

Combine trend makers with fabric factories and manufacturers that are stoked up to meet demand, whether small quantity designer labels or high volume merchandise, Colombia-made goods are a hand-in-glove fit domestically and for those abroad.

STREET SAVVY STYLE AT COLOMBIA MODA 2018 COURTESY OF VOGUE MAGAZINE

Feeling the squeeze from the ‘Trump tariffs’ were a cadre of consultants sleuthing around for alternative supply sources outside China.  They were representatives of household name fashion brands, big box chain stores to luxury malls from Dubai  to DeMoines.  Countless fashion curators, sales reps and the fashion-forward were entertained by consecutive runway shows that could have easily been mistaken for those in  Milan , Paris or New York. Prescient  attendees and a cosmopolitan press corps surveyed  the landscape as an alternative to pre-existing and established supply lines.

Among the standouts were Four Brothers,  classic button down men’s wear with a cornucopia of clever emojis woven into the socks.  The “made with love” hand-tooled sunglasses, with a vast collection that is filled with history and a commitment to the environment and watches with rare dried flowers embedded in the face were the highlight from Fento represented by Alejandro Monsalve.  The Taller Alado sculptured wool and filter  fiber appliqués in organic neutrals, Lugo Logo men’s couture with  luminescent green beetles on hand stitched suits and tails reminiscent of Royal occasions by Alejando LugoParchita Form handbags channeled the late Kate Spade with geometric forms in primary Crayola colors are seeing  extend their brands reach across borders.

The rousing event  concluded with  the street-smart Disney collection for the “urban citizen” that saw Minnie and Mickey holding hands while  taking a turn down a glitter festooned runway.  The sartorial complement of J Balvin, a native of Medellin, appearing live at the GEF Department Store and recently sharing the stage with “The Biebs,”  one could do worse for a defacto brand ambassador.

Collateral damage from the looming tariffs may actually be a silver lining for those fashion forward who appreciate that Colombia is a watershed of creative design, combined with the most impeccable workmanship found anywhere on the planet.” commented  Kacie Schweikhardt, attending Colombia Moda prospecting for designers focused on a more eco-friendly approach to manufacture and bent on extending their brands to California and beyond.

INEX Trancending Limits with Perspective : Know -Connect -Transform.

-fin-

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