WASHINGTON — Apparel and textile imports to the U.S. fell 6.4 percent in February to 3.9 billion square meter equivalents from a year earlier, a report from the Commerce Department’s Office for Textiles and Apparel showed Thursday, as the Obama administration continued to tout Made in America and export opportunities.
On the import front, retailers and brands kept an eye on inventories in February, following a long-term downward import trend.
“I think we’ve had this downward trend that has been continuing since the second half of last year,” said Julia Hughes, president of the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel. “We are definitely seeing some retrenching, and we’re not quite ready for overall growth….A lot of companies are not ordering as much product as they did last year, due to costs, and people don’t want to hold inventory.”
Apparel and textile shipments from China, the top supplier to the U.S. that has seen its shipments decline for several months, fell 12.7 percent in February to 1.6 billion SME compared with a year earlier. Combined industry shipments from Vietnam, which had been taking share from China last year but fell in January, dropped again in February by 11.4 percent to 227 million SME. India was one of two key supplier countries that posted an increase in textile and apparel imports. Its shipments rose 14.6 percent to 279 million SME in February compared with a year earlier. Pakistan’s apparel and textile imports gained 0.6 percent to 169 million SME in February.
Cambodia posted the largest apparel import increase of 11.3 percent to 89 million SME, while Bangladesh posted the second-largest apparel increase of 0.55 percent to 139 million SME.
Meanwhile, Made in America and a shift in production back to the U.S. and Western Hemisphere were among the topics discussed at an all-day White House conference on “Connecting the Americas” with business leaders across the country, in advance of President Obama’s participation in the sixth Summit of the Americas later this week in Cartagena, Colombia.
“We think we can grow that exponentially,” said Kirk, adding that the country is on pace to meet the President’s goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014, based on a record year in 2011. “I can tell you that as I have traveled around the world in my capacity as trade representative, the words ‘Made in America’ are still three of the most treasured words in the world. It is still one of the most powerful brands in the world.”
Small Business Administration administrator Karen Mills said, “This Made in America brand is hot, and we see it in a lot of small businesses all around the country. When I travel around the country, the number-one thing they ask me for is a level playing field.”
Kirk said U.S. trade officials have found that more U.S. companies are relocating back to the U.S. to produce their goods.
“For a period of time 20 years ago, American businesses decided to go to places like China and Malaysia because there were hundreds of millions of workers who would work for $2 a day and transportation costs were cheaper,” he said. “But what we are beginning to find in many cases — and not just China but in many countries — while it is cheaper to get the workers there…our productivity has gone up….Businesses are finally deciding, ‘You know what? I think I’m just going to make this here in North America and in the U.S.’ It is the beginning of a trend.”
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)
The @cfda has shifted the dates of #NYFW, with Men’s showing on February 5 through February 7, and Women’s will directly follow, running from February 8 through 14. The preliminary schedule will be released on the CFDA’s web site in the next few days, but Mark Beckham, VP of marketing for the CFDA, revealed that @rafsimons will be back to close the men’s-specific part of the week with a show on February 7 #wwdfashion (📷: Kelly Taub)
@ferragamo is introducing a new space dedicated to the development of women’s and men’s leather good samples. The laboratory, which is created eco-friendly materials and designed to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes, will allow the company to expand its accessories offering through traditional artisanal approaches. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
How does a “regular, degular, schmegular” girl from the Bronx, N.Y., become a Grammy-nominated artist with a certified platinum record in less than a year? Call it the @iamcardib come up. The 25-year-old has become a musical sensation, and the fashion world is taking note. “If I could describe her style I would say drama. She’s really into the dramatics,” says Cardi B’s stylist @kollincarter. See how Carter styles her bold and out there looks with the link in bio. #wwdfashion
“There is no formula. There is no guideline. I can watch Ted Talks all day, but there is no one who can advise me on exactly what it is I should be doing,” said @ronniefieg, CEO of @kith, in an interview with WWD’s @ariahughes at the brand’s new SoHo office in Manhattan. Head to WWD.com to see how Fieg went from hanging out in shoe stockrooms at 13 to building his own business. #wwdfashion (📷: @weston.wells)
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion