By  on July 31, 2014

Colombiamoda, billed as Latin America’s largest integrated fashion and sourcing fair, generated potential orders of $308 million at its 25th-anniversary edition as nearly 9,000 buyers convened in Medellin to explore sourcing opportunities and eye the latest trends.

The event, held July 22 to 24, raised 23 percent more than last year as the merger of three platforms — Colombiamoda, Textiles 2 and Moda Para el Mundo — proved fruitful, drawing more than 20,000 visitors.

The combined effort, launched last year, generated new economies of scale to the “fashion system” that organizer Inexmoda is promoting to boost the fair’s growth.

Colombiamoda, which hosted 29 runway shows — including 16 new designers — generated $221 million in potential business opportunities, up 19 percent from 2013. Sourcing fairs Textiles 2 and Moda Para el Mundo also saw trade increase 41 percent and 22 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, the fair’s Knowledge Pavilion saw 65 brands meet with 150 investors from 16 countries to strike franchising deals, joint ventures and strategic alliances.

“We have increased our exhibition space but more than that, we have grown our vision of the fashion system,” Inexmoda’s executive president Carlos Eduardo Botero said. “We now have a much more consolidated apparel, footwear, jewelry, lingerie and leather goods offer and we have incorporated technical textiles and apparel.”

Ricardo Vallejo, promotion vice president at export lobby Proexport, said 1,552 international buyers arrived in Medellin’s Plaza Mayor exhibition center. He said $117 million in potential orders were generated, up 30 percent from 2013, of which 31 percent were direct sales. Buyers came from the U.S., Ecuador, Mexico and Canada, buying mostly swimwear and sportswear, he said.

Underscoring the fair’s growing importance, Vallejo noted: “Of the 631 buyers we invited, all of them showed up and 52 percent came for the first time.”

Botero said Colombiamoda has grown from a single $100 million fair five years ago to luring more than $300 million today, boosting its economic contribution to Medellin, the capital of Colombia’s textile and apparel industry, increasingly seen as a leading Latin American fashion hub.

Textiles and apparel accounts for 15 percent of Colombia’s GDP, according to Inexmoda executives. This year, the industry is poised to grow 7 percent to $9 billion, with apparel chalking up a 10 percent gain, Botero revealed.

Colombia exports 40 percent of its production. However, foreign sales have recently disappointed, due to fresh import restrictions from key partner Ecuador and floundering sales to Venezuela.

As for Colombiamoda, Botero said the platform has become a “meeting point” for Latin American textiles and fashion executives. The fair will continue investing in technology to improve its runway shows and its exhibition space. Already, there are plans to expand the flagship Yellow Pavilion beyond its current capacity to host 8,000 visitors and 150 stands.

One highlight was Inexmoda’s decision to launch a fashion incubator and new platforms to raise the profiles of young and emerging designers, including El Cubo, El Colombiano and Non-Stop by Caracol TV, which together promoted 16 designers.

Medellin’s City Hall also deployed its fashion entrepreneur program Cultura E while Vogue Talents Corner helped publicize 14 up-and-coming designers.

“We need to promote the new generation to have the best designers,” Botero said, adding that the recent discovery of promising talent also prompted Inexmoda to roll out the scheme during its 25th anniversary. As part of that effort, shows by new standout designers Camilo Alvarez and Johanna Ortiz opened and closed the event.

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