That is the question the fashion industry is asking about Sen. Joseph Biden (D., Del.) following the decision of Sen. Barack Obama (D., Ill.) to choose him as his vice presidential candidate. The industry is scurrying to determine whether Biden will live up to his internationalist reputation and be a forceful proponent of free trade, or will follow the skepticism of it exuded by Obama on the campaign trail.
Apparel firms, which imported $95.6 billion in goods in the last year, are already concerned over what they see as Obama’s protectionist bent, while U.S. textile producers are encouraged by some of Obama’s policy statements that indicate he will take a tougher stance against illegal foreign trade practices.
“Obviously, it’s a safe pick by Obama, at least in Washington consensus circles,” said a spokesman for the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition. “The question with Sen. Biden is what is he going to say next. Sometimes that can be a double-edged sword.”
Julia Hughes, senior vice president of the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel, said, “Biden hasn’t been a leader on retail issues or trade issues. He’s approached them more from the foreign policy perspective.”
Hughes noted that, with his international approach, Biden has at times sided with importers on key issues. “He’s certainly not a protectionist,” she said.
Biden has had a mixed voting record on trade in the Senate. The six-term senator from Delaware voted against the Central American Free Trade Agreement, which included six countries in the region, but he voted in favor of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada 17 years ago.
NAFTA was a top-tier campaign issue for Democrats during the primaries. Obama has said repeatedly that he will summon Canada and Mexico back to the negotiating table to add stronger labor and environmental provisions in the trade pact.
Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), the presumptive Republican nominee, has tried to use NAFTA as a wedge issue to paint Obama as a “protectionist.” McCain, an ardent free trader, traveled to Canada and Mexico at the start of the general election season to champion NAFTA and free trade in general.
Biden also has voted against trade pacts with Chile and Singapore.
China has been in the spotlight on Capitol Hill for the past several months and Obama said during the primaries that he would crack down on alleged currency manipulation and contaminated imports from China.
Biden has signed on to a bill in the Senate that is sponsored by Sens. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) and Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) that would establish new rules to punish China, including the potential imposition of U.S. antidumping duties, if certain conditions are not met and the country doesn’t raise the value of its currency.
Democrats hope to widen their margins in the House and Senate in November and capture the White House, which could set the stage for punitive legislation to pass next year.
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye