By  on October 15, 2009

To bring new dimension to next week’s spring market, the Dallas Market Center peered south — to Colombia.

With help from Proexport Columbia trade council, the DMC pinpointed 17 top fashion and accessories manufacturers eager to export to the U.S. They will exhibit at market Oct. 22 to 25 in a special pavilion within the Scene show at FashionCenterDallas.

“Colombia’s apparel and fashion industries are the most mature and developed in the region,” said Ivonne Kinser, vice president of international business development at DMC. “This is the first time we have done such a huge marketing effort to bring this caliber of international designers. They are strong, famous designers that have experience selling internationally, but they haven’t been seen in this part of the U.S..”

As a group, the Colombian designers show strength in color, texture and novelty, including chic swimwear, handbags made of exotic caiman leather that resembles alligator, plus handcrafted jewelry, eveningwear, dresses and sportswear.

The Colombian designers are all planning to attend the show to introduce their goods personally, Kinser said.

The most prominent are Francesca Miranda and Beatriz Camacho, who each produce women’s designer collections and operate their own stores in Bogotá and other Latin American cities. Miranda also features accessories and men’s wear.

Colombia is known for high quality swimwear and intimate apparel, and five of its top brands will show at FCD.

Ondademar highlights printed bikinis and maillots with chic cover-ups — Kim Cattrall wore one of its swimsuits in the film “Sex and the City.” Arena Blanca’s sexy bikinis feature playful trims and prints, while Saha offers vibrantly printed, reversible bikinis using seamless technology.

EA Lingerie creates elegant, sophisticated swimwear in solids and prints accented with jeweled hardware as well as lace-trimmed lingerie and corsets. Ellipse Lingerie and Swimwear also offers fashions in both categories.

Accessories vendors include Angela Gutierrez Design and Rinkel, which style clutches and bags in caiman skins in various colors at competitive prices. Gutierrez runs its own caiman ranch and tannery and can create custom, exclusive designs for stores. Its retail prices run from about $400 to $1,500.

Paola Cavalli has a witty take on handbags and shoes, proffering a big red textured leather clutch in the shape of pursed lips and leather sandals in cheerful colors for women and girls.

Tatiana Apraez will show fresh, artistic jewelry hand crafted from unusual materials such as silver and wood covered in vegetable latex, varnished silver and intricate aluminum mesh.

Another intriguing jewelry line is by Maria Camila Mesa, whose fanciful styles mix such materials as peacock feathers, acrylic, chains, pearls, semiprecious stones and crystals in looks ranging from mod to ethnic.

Colombia exported $1.96 billion of textiles and apparel in 2007, primarily to Venezuela, according to Proexport. The industry is concentrated in Medellin and Bogota, the two largest cities, and employs 600,000 in direct and indirect jobs. Bordering Panama, Colombia can ship to Miami in three days.

“They compete at a fair price level because production costs are low,” Kinser explained. “They are not as low as China, but they don’t have as high shipping costs, so it almost competes with China.

“We see this as the first edition of something that will become big in the Dallas Market Center,” she continued. “In Colombia, we probably had 30 designers we could bring, but we decided to start with 17 and bring more next year. We plan to repeat this in Argentina and Mexico in the following years.”

In other DMC news, Scene has grown to 80 booths, including eight for W Showroom, whose labels include Gold Tag Denim, Parasuco, Civil Society and RPGene.

The venue also has 500 permanent showrooms and Temporaries on 12, with 150 booths including young contemporary resources, cowboy boots and novelties.

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