Peru is projecting big growth in textiles and is hoping to become a leader in fabric exportation. At least, those were the goals presented at last week’s Peru Moda expo held in New York City.

“We hope to become the new Italy,” said Conrado Falco, the director of the Trade Commission of Peru in New York.

“The country has grown so much that I believe that we will become a major player in textiles.”

The event was sponsored by the Peruvian Tourism and Export Board, and was a day-long celebration of the country’s fashion, textiles and foods. The country’s biggest export is asparagus, Falco explained, but textiles is quickly becoming a major sector as well.

The country has had significant growth with exporting its Pima cotton and alpaca wool since a free trade agreement was established with the United States in 2009. In the five years since, the country has seen an 11 percent growth year-to-year with a total of $2.1 billion in trade with the U.S. alone. Exports of Pima cotton and alpaca wool totaled $654 million in the past year.

The main products exported to the U.S. included cotton T-shirts at $225 million; cotton sweaters at $48 million and women’s cotton blouses and shirts at $36 million.

“We are the leading producer of the finest fibers in South America and now have sophisticated technology that fuses alpaca into silks and more,” said Falco.

The expo held a morning breakfast forum moderated by Tom Julian, director of strategic business development at The Doneger Group, along with panelists Dana Davis, vice president of production at Mara Hoffman, and Robert Godley, designer at Psycho Bunny, to discuss the sustainability and ease of sourcing factories in Peru.

“For us, Peru was a chance to explore a different side of the business,” said Davis. “It introduced us to so many great products, like handcrafted sweaters that were perfect for what we were looking for.”

“I am most impressed with how enhanced the equipment is — it’s world class and it’s something they are proud of,” said Godley. “The showrooms are very European as well. Many of the other brands who also work with Peru are Armani, Lacoste. Working with Peruvian Pima cotton has been such an integral part of almost all of our garments.”

Godley said that though he’s had a positive experience working with the country over the past few years, he did warn future businesses about one aspect.

“Asparagus season,” he said. “I’ve learned that you will not get any freight for two weeks in August when the asparagus ships.”

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