Colombia: Taking Another Look at This Duty-Free Destination

Are you looking for a new, duty-free sourcing destination? Consider Colombia! Colombia has obtained international recognition thanks to decades-long tradition, skilled labor, and the continual search for innovative proposals and tools to embrace new trends and respond to clients’ demands.

Colombia’s fashion manufacturers offer extensive, competitive advantages for international buyers: new developments in the innovation of textiles and raw materials; permanent product production with vertical integration and strong capacity; rapid response (especially to the United States) and flexibility to respond to clients’ special requirements; and, a commitment to environmental sustainability and fair trade.

And the fashion sector plays one of the most important roles in Colombia’s economy, due to its impact on employment, production, and development.

As a result of the quality of the industry’s design and production, the Colombian fashion industry counts prestigious brands from around the world among its clients.

Below, you'll find some fast facts about Colombia and how to start sourcing there.

Fast Facts: Colombia's Competitive Advantage

  1. TRADITION, with more than 100 years of experience.
  2. FLEXIBILE PRODUCTION, adjusted to customers’ requirements. Minimum amounts can be adjusted to the needs of the client depending on the policies of each company, with a quick response to replenishment orders. Colombia can produce orders from 500 or 5,000 units to meet specific needs, with high standards of commitment and quality without higher costs.
  3. INTEGRATION of design, cutting, production, and distribution, among others
  4. A high-tech, INNOVATIVE production sector.
  5. A highly qualified and trained LABOR MARKET, especially for the industry
  6. A socially and environmentally RESPONSIBLE industry
  7. SHORT DELIVERY TIMES (45 to 60 days), compared to 120 to 150 days in China which are around 120 and 150 days.

Fast Facts: Colombia's Potential

  1. Colombian companies invest in technology to provide more efficient, effective, and flexible production
  2. Colombian companies are creators of global trends. Their investment in innovation meets the production demands and contributes to the challenges in style and fashion.
  3. Colombian companies offer vertical integration, which guarantees supply and quality control throughout the entire process.
  4. Colombian companies offer short and competitive response times and delivery as well as a production capacity.
  5. Colombian companies have the capacity to produce and develop a permanent supply for you.
  6. Finally, Colombian companies offer great diversity in their products and a production capacity for a wide array of products, enabling buyers to acquire a complete collection in the same site.

Fast Facts: Colombia & Trade

The Colombian fashion sector has acquired greater specialization and recognition, exporting products with higher added value. In 2015, Colombia's fashion sector exported to 108 destinations, while in 2016, to 111 destinations; 55.2 percent were exported to United States, Ecuador, and Mexico. In addition, in 2016, 1,393 fashion companies exported products around the world, with values equal to or greater than US $10,000; in 2016, the figure is 1,352 companies.

Colombian Fashion Industry Exports by Subsector 2013 – 2016 (US$ Million)

Colombian Fashion Industry Exports by Subsector 2013 – 2016 (US$ Million)

Source:  trademap.org, DANE

The most exported sector in Colombia was apparel, with US$487.4 million in 2016, followed by textiles with US$186.6 million.

Fast Facts: Products in Colombia

Casual or Formal?

Colombia's formal and casual offerings have versatility in supply and multiple product lines for men, women, and children--all made by qualified labor. These products are important generators of employment, and the majority of companies are vertically integrated, ensuring control throughout the supply chain. You'll find companies with quality certifications, as well as unique fashion designs.


Colombia is a leader in jeanswear production, with specialized labor and flexible production offerings. Choose from classic jeans with straight boots, skinny jeans, bells, and jeans that "lift the tail," as well as denim shirts, jackets, overalls, shorts, and skirts. Garments with different shades and finishes incorporated added value with applications and designs that highlight the figure, and the industry is at the forefront of the latest denim trends, generating up to five annual collections. In 2015, Colombia ranked #37 worldwide for jeanswear exports, preceded by countries such as China, Bangladesh, and Turkey.


Colombia's shapewear sector includes garments with added value, such as bands for posture correction, abdominal bands to raise body temperature, and textiles with special properties. You'll find designs tailored to meet the needs of your client: molding the hips, abdomen, waist, legs, buttocks, or bust. This sector utilizes soft materials and a diversity of inputs such as seaweed or caffeine to help customers lose weight, or milk and oats to nourish the skin. Colombia was the world's second-largest shapewear exporter in 2015, second only to China.


Colombian swimwear is characterized by elegance, comfort, and color. The Colombian supply offers innovative designs: two-pieces, triquinis, monokinis, and tankinis, with a variety of colors and quality materials. You'll find Colombian swimwear in premium brands and niches, while Colombian designers present collections on the world's biggest runways, setting trends with their design and use of traditional and craft materials.


Underwear is one of Colombia's main exports, recognized in highly demanding markets. Colombia offers underwear for high-end brands, with sexy, functional, and comfortable approaches. At the same time, there are brands for the younger population, for pregnant women, and for the conservative audience. You'll find a variety of designs adapted to the customer's needs: brassieres developed with excellent cups and support, underpants with control features in the abdomen, and pieces with delicate materials to show the natural shape of the body. In 2015, Colombia ranked #7 worldwide in underwear exports, preceded by countries such as China, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.

Athletic Attire

Colombia offers fitness and urban sportswear, with specialties in a variety of sports and exercise genres: yoga, fitness, cycling, hiking, and soccer, among others. Garments include t-shirts, tops, leggings, capris, shorts, skirts, jackets, sweatshirts, polos, you name it. In addition to top-of-the-line athletic materials, you'll find features like moisture transport, anti-bacterial, sun protection, repellent, waterproof, and intelligent microfibers that absorb sweat, elastic fibers that provide freedom of movement, and more.


The Colombian uniform sector includes corporate, medical, and athletic uniforms, as well as specialized, added-value products such as military and industrial uniforms. These products are developed according to the needs of the industry in terms of design and materials that provide resistance and durability, as well as intelligent materials with UV properties, impermeable, anti-fluid, humidity control, anti-mosquito, anti-bacterial, thermal, anti-sweat, even bulletproof or anti-inflammatory.

Children's Clothing

This sector offers diversity in supply with a high production capacity that allows buyers to access a wide range of products in one place. Value-added products such as woven dresses and hand embroidery, for example, demonstrate the variety and versatility of the Colombian industry, with clothing and accessories available for boys and girls.


Colombia is South America's leader in home exports, reaching approximately 30 destinations. Colombia offers a variety of products: towels, hammocks, bedding, duvets, pillowcases, and mattresses, among others, with designs and materials that offer resistance and durability. Companies in this sector are especially committed to preserving the environment, and avoiding harmful substances in production.


The footwear market in Colombia is recognized for its workmanship and quality, shipping to more than 40 countries worldwide. The Colombian footwear sector complies with international requirements and standards, and the proper handling of skins along the production chain gives the final product the characteristics the international market demands. The minimum quantities of production are small, so the flexibility of the sector is considered a competitive advantage, with the ability to change products quickly according to market tendencies.

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