Blog: Leonie BarrieColombia #1

Leonie Barrie | 20 January 2004

The top echelons of Colombian society gathered in Medellin last night for the official opening of the Colombiatex sourcing show - and boy do they know how to enjoy themselves! The party at the Museo de Antioquia went on late into the night and guests, dressed to the nines in the way Latin Americans do so well, were able to wander, drinks in hand, around exhibits which included a Pierre Balmain retrospective and a range of Rubinesque, or should that be Beryl Cook-esque, statues and paintings by locally-born artist Botero. There's an immense sense of pride here in the country, its heritage and of course its textile and clothing industry, but perhaps most importantly a new sense of enthusiasm for what the future holds now that the political situation is changing. As one guest explained, in the past people were reluctant to get involved because their suggestions fell on deaf ears; now, they know that their feedback is not only being listened to, but also encouraged.

Overseas visitors like myself are finding this optimism hard to reconcile against the negative media reports we all latched on to before the trip began. Yes security is still an issue - the sniffer dogs, police presence, queues for photo-id for exhibition badges etc had to be seen to be believed when the show opened this-morning - but beyond this is a cosmopolitan city with an atmosphere similar to that in any continental European destination.

And buyers are also impressed with the standard of production being seen here. Those from the US are determined to make the most of the cost advantages to be gained from ATPDEA; while those from Europe are here to find something new. And interestingly, several have said that they are heading to this continent precisely because it's not China.


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