Gap is said to be mulling a return to Colombia sourcing

Gap is said to be mulling a return to Colombia sourcing

US clothing retailer Gap Inc is considering making women's swimsuits, activewear and men's suits in Colombia and possibly Brazil, according to sources familiar to the company's plans.

"They are in exploratory talks with several potential partners there and could choose one in late 2011 or early next year," one insider told just-style.

Gap currently makes the clothes in an undisclosed Asian location but Colombia has a better cost/quality ratio for that type of apparel, the source said.

"There are other parts of Asia that specialise in this product but Colombia has a better sewing hand," the source said, adding that proximity is also a plus.

If it strikes a deal, Gap would return to Colombia after ending a denim manufacturing contract with Comercializadora Internacional Jean and Comercializadora Internacional Expofaro last year to shift that output to a lower cost partner in India.

Colombian press reported Gap found "sweatshop" conditions in its Indian factory, prompting its decision to move production to the South American country. But a second source said those claims are untrue and that the denim production will stay in India.

Gap's decision to transfer the women's swimsuits, activewear and men's suits manufacturing stems from a strategic review, the source said.

The source added that Gap is also exploring some of the items it hopes to make in Colombia, or some new ones, in Brazil, which also has attractive third-party manufacturers but she would not provide more details.

One thing´s for sure. Gap will be smart to step up its manufacturing presence in Latin America given its plans to open stores in the region. The retailer recently announced plans to open a Chilean flagship this autumn and is understood to be planning over 26 stores in South America by 2016, mainly in Chile and Peru. 

Gap spokeswoman Louise Callagy would not comment other than to say Gap is committed to maintaining a "diverse sourcing mix" and sources from 60 countries.