Turkish shirting fabrics specialist Söktas is joining forces with Honduran company Kattan Group - thought to be the largest shirt manufacturer in the western hemisphere - to make finished shirts for the US market.

“It made sense. We were looking for a strong partner in Central America to help us bring a ‘full service’ offering to our US customers, who are increasingly purchasing finished shirts from the Far East,” said Söktas chairman Muharrem Kayhan.

The two companies boast decades of experience and a broad portfolio of products and customers, and are looking to take advantage of the DR-CAFTA (Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement), which allows duty-free access to the US market with appropriate fabrics.

“With our joint commitment to inventory fabrics for individual customers in Honduras, we will be able to offer an unprecedented level of service, speed to market and value that can never be achieved from Asia,” added Jacobo Kattan, chairman of the Kattan Group. “We have had this vision of establishing a virtual, regional supply chain for some time and now we have the ideal partner.”

Söktas specialises in cotton and cotton blended shirtings, and controls the entire production chain from yarn spinning and twisting, to dyeing, weaving, design and finishing. The company also develops original yarns and new blends and has launched a super premium cotton yarn made from a hybrid seed grown on its own land.

The Kattan Group, meanwhile, produces men's and women's shirts, as well as knitted casual wear like T-shirts, fleece tops and bottoms, for brands including Van Heusen, Geoffrey Beene, Kenneth Cole, DKNY, Lee and Hanes.

Its four factories are geared up to offer smaller minimums and frequent replenishment, with the group's relationship with textile mills across Central America contributing to its ability to respond quickly to vendors’ needs. Shipping to Miami takes around 48 to 72 hours.

Söktas and Kattan are launching their partnership at the Première Vision show in Paris this week.