The 12th edition of the international textile trade show Peru Moda ended last week at the Army Headquarters in Lima’s district of San Borja. Organized by the Peruvian export promotion agency Promperu, the three-day event, running from Apr. 22-24 and considered one of the most important fashion events in Latin America and the main event of the Peru’s fashion industry, showcased the best of the Peruvian export offer in fashion.

More than 450 export and over 500 import companies for apparel, footwear, accessories and jewelry, as well as services including machinery and trims, participated in the 14,000-sq.-meter exhibition hall, which welcomed approximately 7,000 visitors from over 10 countries (an increase from the previous year).

One of Peru’s biggest draws is arguably its excellent quality of cotton and alpaca fibers that competes in the international market with fibers as exquisite as cashmere and mohair. The uniform yarn, the brightness and softness of Pima cotton from Peru has turned the country into a coveted resource for the textile industry and given rise to excellent garments, creative and high-quality design.

“All our designs are produced in Peru,” says Nelly Lucy Barandiaran, who ran her own fashion label, Kim & Kelly, in New York, selling to the city’s best department stores, before launching nine years ago her own manufacturing company. Neluba, located in Lima, now produces high-quality knitwear for customers such as the Norwegian eco-lux label, Fin. “We only use Peruvian textile qualities like alpaca, pima cotton, even blending them with silk and cashmere. Many of our suppliers, like Inca Tops, are showing at the fair as well; the quality level of the fair is pretty good,” she adds.

Inca Tops, with about 300 customers such as Hermès and Benetton worldwide, is probably one of the only Peruvian companies that has ever made it into Pitti Filati in Florence. “We have been exhibiting there for four years as 60% of our customers are European, mostly Italian,” the company’s Marketing Manager Jose Carlos Hernani says. “Still, Peru Moda is a very important platform for us to deliver to our local customers. I am sure almost all exhibiting brands at Peru Moda offer Alpaca, bought from Inca Tops. That makes us very proud.”

Meanwhile, along with its famous fibers, the country has yet another asset ripe for export: young Peruvian designers. “The design scene is definitely improving. Fifteen years ago there was no fashion school around here. Now there are almost about eight fashion schools to educate the offspring,” says designer Italia Testino. To support the new blood, the “Young Creators to the World” contest organized by Promperu was held for the fifth time during this year’s Peru Moda. Fifteen participants from the most renowned schools of Peru were selected by a jury panel to present their creations at Peru Moda’s catwalk. Additional numerous seminars rounded out the fair.

The next edition of Perumoda is scheduled to run in April 2010.

—Karin Leiberg