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.
My character, Dinah Madani, is just the coolest, [most] badass woman imaginable," says @amberroserevah. The actress stars in @marvel's newest series on @netflix, @thepunisher. To prepare for her role, Revah sat down with Homeland agents to get a real sense of with Dinah's day-to-day life is really like. Read our full interview on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
A scene from the 91st annual @macys Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade, which boasts 50 million TV viewers and 3.5 million on-site spectators, is considered one of the largest and most watched parades in the world. (📷: Jason Szenes/EPA-REX)
The circus came to @bloomingdales 59th Street on Tuesday night and lit up Lexington Avenue with acrobatic dancers, death-defying knife throwing, sword swallowing and aerial acts with no net. The 45 minutes of theatrics built up to unveiling the holiday windows depicting @swarovski crystal-encrusted circus pieces and scenes from “The Greatest Showman” – songs from the soundtrack included. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Joshua Scott)
The psychedelic fashion that pervaded the ’60s is back with an exhibit at the @museumofcityny. “Mode New York: Fashion Takes a Trip” chronicles the changing styles from 1960 through 1973 and features designers such as @ysl, @oscardelarenta and more. The exhibition, which is on display through April 1, is organized into four periods: First Lady Fasion, Youthquake, New Bohemia and New Nonchalance. Pictured here is model Pat Bardonella during the Garvey Day Parade in 1968. (📷: @kwamebphoto) #wwdeye #wwdfashion
“People should be a lot more honest in expressing both the dark and light of themselves. We need to give each other the space to do that because it’s the only way we can grow and evolve,” says @noelwells of her new film “Mr. Roosevelt,” which is largely based on her own struggles. Unexpectedly leaving @nbcsnl in 2014 after just one season, Wells felt set back in her self-esteem and career trajectory. She quickly refocused her energy to more personal projects, which led to the completion of “Mr. Roosevelt.” Read the rest of WWD’s interview with the “Master of None” actress on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
@barbrastreisand is giving fans a chance to see her perform up close in a new concert series, which makes its debut on @Netflix today. From behind-the-scenes takes to her concert performance in Miami last December, the two-hour streaming special captures Streisand in her element. Pictured here is the singer/actress photographed for WWD in 1963. (📷: Palmieri Tony) #wwdeye #wwdarchive
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)