Peruvian apparel exports are forecast to jump 27% to $1.5bn in 2011 on the back of efforts to transform Peru into a purveyor of high-quality and upmarket clothing.

An official at the National Industrial Society (SNI) told just-style that higher-priced classic polos and dress shirts will boost this year's export numbers, even though volumes will grow just 1.4%.

The official confirmed that SNI President Mario Fiocco told local press that average apparel export prices rose to $7.25 per item, up 20% from last year. Peru's efforts to diversify exports away from the US into fast-growing markets in Latin America, such as Brazil and Argentina, also helped the country find new markets for its more high-priced clothing.

Looking ahead, Fiocco said the industry hopes to report similar results in 2012, when global markets are expected to perform similarly to 2011, though he acknowledged demand levels remain uncertain.

"It won't be a black year though it could be grey," Fiocco said, adding that industry efforts to boost domestic sales and break into new international markets should help offset falling demand in the US.

As part of this effort, the sector will work to boost sales of "made in Peru" apparel to domestic department store networks such as Ripley. Specialty chains such as 15.50 and TopyTop have also pledged to buy local products.

This should help offset soaring imports of less expensive Chinese clothing, which sells at an average of $1.56 per item and accounts for 90% of domestic apparel sales, Fiocco said.

Meanwhile, textile exports did not fare so well. According to Martin Reano, the SNI's textile boss, textiles (mainly yarns and fabrics) will decline, due to lower purchases and restructuring efforts from global apparel producers. Production is also forecast to fall 1-2% this year, he added.

According to Reano, the industry is also struggling to contain growing imports of undervalued Indian yarns.

Industry observers have said that some Peruvian texile and apparel SMEs could close next year as they expect Chinese and Asian imports to rise due to the global economic crisis.