From September 18-21, Kyrgyz apparel factories participated in the Apparel Sourcing Paris exposition for the first time, one of the largest international textile industry events. The trip was sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of its effort to expand export markets for Kyrgyzstan’s garment industry.
Representatives from fourteen Kyrgyz garment factories met with buyers from European fashion retailers and gained firsthand knowledge about the European garment industry and global competition in apparel sourcing. The delegation met with more than 50 prospective buyers during the exhibition and discussed opportunities for possible cooperation.
Potential buyers highlighted advantages of producers from Kyrgyzstan, such as the ability to accept small orders and deliver them to markets more quickly than many Asian competitors. They also gained insights into compliance prerequisites for selling to Europe and other developed markets, noting that international compliance requirements for worker health, safety, and labor protection are key to entering the international markets.
Suimonkul Zholdubaev, owner of the Cool Bros. knitwear factory and one of the members of the delegation, noted, “I understood the importance of compliance here. All customers wanted to discuss social compliance and how we are addressing shortcomings before even discussing quality and price.”
The Kyrgyz apparel industry has a long history of textile and garment manufacturing and currently consists of more than 500 small- and medium-sized manufacturers located in or near Bishkek. For the past several years, USAID has been helping Kyrgyzstan’s most competitive producers to work together to offer a one-stop, buying-office solution for international brands and retailers. By making it easier for international buyers to produce garments in Kyrgyzstan, local businesses are seeing increased opportunities to export their product to new markets.