By  on October 4, 2011

WASHINGTON — The American Apparel & Footwear Association is creating a new identity.

The trade and lobbying group, which represents 350 corporate members and 850 brands, or 75 percent of the apparel and footwear industry, will launch a new brand campaign on Thursday in conjunction with a new Web site to bow next month to increase its visibility and voice in Washington as it lobbies Congress and the Obama administration on important policy issues ranging from intellectual property rights protection to opening new markets abroad.

The brand campaign, dubbed “We Wear,” will feature several themes, including how the apparel and footwear industries foster jobs in the U.S., its economic impact, the importance of global markets, IPR protection, sustainability, responsibility, innovation and readiness. Each theme has a “We Wear” tag attached to it, such as “We wear jobs” and “We wear our economy.”

The wewear.org Web site will be unveiled Nov. 3 and serve as a tool to improve communication with the industry, as well as with Capitol Hill. It will replace AAFA’s current URL, apparelandfootwear.org.

“We decided to reposition the brand,” said Kevin Burke, president and chief executive officer of the AAFA. “Often times, when we go to Capitol Hill, members of Congress tell us we are all importers and that we don’t manufacture here. We tell them that we do manufacture here and we have a larger impact on the economy than they think.”

When compared with other industries, the AAFA said it represents one of the largest consumer segments, with consumers spending $340 billion annually on apparel and footwear, compared with about $175 billion spent on cars. Burke said the AAFA has spent nearly a year creating a new brand platform, an “economic blueprint” of the apparel and footwear industry’s impact on the U.S. economy.

“In today’s environment, especially on Capitol Hill, every industry has a story,” he added. “We have to tell ours. Ours is an amazing story. Everything people in Washington do impacts the ability of people to wear clothes. The Hill looks at numbers, and if I can say we are twice as large as the auto industry, that will get attention.”

The brand campaign will also be disseminated through materials used for advocacy efforts, improved electronic communications with congressional and administration officials, print ads where warranted, and through AAFA members.

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