By Ellen Saville, Creative Director, The Endery
Manufacturing overseas has it's advantages when it comes to artisanal skill, resources, and even reduced costs. However, before you get started it is essential to consider the cultural differences and production nuances so you are best prepared to form a great working relationship with your new factory.
It’s no secret that Peru is the place to go for textiles. With diverse landscapes providing diverse materials, and highly skilled craftspeople, alongside luxury fibers such as pima cotton which has grown in abundance for centuries. To a thriving alpaca, vicuna and highland wool industry – which provides perhaps the most eco friendly fibers in the world: Peru has enough to excite and inspire any designer or brand. However, cultural differences, the language barrier and difficulties in accessing and contacting factories can present issues in approaching ethical manufacturing.
Peru also presents a chance to really drive impact, work with indigienous and traditional techniques on both small scale and large scale productions, and with some of the most diverse materials from leather, cotton, knits, embroidery and weaving.
To sum up, Peru is a place which holds many of the key ingredients for developing an incredible collection, which can be made in an impactful way, ethically. Furthermore, many manufacturers rely on this as a source of income and so by sourcing in Peru, brands can be positive they are supporting and protecting craft.
What to expect in terms of cultural norms?
1 | Firstly, Peru time is much much slower. Families and holidays come first, and then work. When looking for the right supplier or artisan partner, brands need to make sure they have good communication from the get go. Its recommended to have a skype call, and ensure all emails are responded to swiftly in the initial communication to understand how the group works.
2 | Lead times are generally longer. This is due to raw material delivery often being pushed out. Make sure you have a well padded timeline which may be able to withstand these issues.
3 | Holidays are a big deal. For Easter, expect a week off. A good supplier should have this built into their calendar and should be able to advise brands to be able to work around it.
4 | The culture of ‘yes’. It is well known that in Peru, suppliers will say ‘yes’ to demands and requests that they know they won’t be able to meet. What’s more, is that they will keep the ‘yes’ going until it’s too late - this could be a late delivery or an error not amended. Suggesting appropriate plan B’s and suggesting to the supplier is a good way around is, as is finding a different way to question the status of the order.
5 | Don’t assume. Make sure regular check ins are scheduled and restate details and follow up on development and production more than you might do normally. Communication may be a little slower than you expect - however there are some wonderful ethical manufacturers who are up to speed with international times, brands just may need to do some hunting to find the right one.
Quality craft and how to find it
Peru has some of the most incredible techniques in the world and its possible to find very high-end, hand made product which is truly unmatched in terms of its luxury and craft. However, finding the correct technique, with the correct price point is often challenging.
1 | Word of mouth, and attending trade shows is often the best way for brands to meet a wide range of producers.
2 | It is also important to understand if groups are open to innovation. Mixing techniques, dyeing and other on-trend fashion forward approaches may be something suppliers are not used to or haven’t seen before. However, there are plenty of craftspeople who are open to this - a good way to get a handle on who is the right fit is to understand who else the supplier may produce for, and to see some reference pictures of their work.
3 | Lastly, brands should not be afraid to go off the beaten track a bit! It’s worth the time and patience to try and find a unique group or factory which meet needs, and who can fulfill truly ethically made product.
If you are interested in exploring your manufacturing options in other countries like Peru, request to join the beta of our Ethical Manufacturing Platform.