WASHINGTON — Apparel and textile imports fell 5.4 percent to 3.8 billion square meter equivalents in March compared with a year earlier, driven by a sharp drop in shipments from China, the number-one supplier to the U.S.
Apparel imports rose 1.7 percent to 1.7 billion SME, while textile imports fell 10.4 percent to 2.1 billion SME, according to a monthly trade report from the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles and Apparel.
China posted the largest decline in combined apparel and textile shipments, falling 17.8 percent to 1.26 billion SME in the month compared with March 2012. Apparel imports from China were down 2.9 percent to 453 million SME, while textile imports fell 24 percent to 805 million SME.
Behind China, Mexico had the next-largest decline in combined imports of 13 percent to 196 million SME. Conversely, combined imports from India rose 11.2 percent to 347 million SME, while combined shipments from Vietnam rose 9 percent to 268 million SME.
“I think we continue to see such caution from the consumer, and I think that is reflected in this data,” said Julia Hughes, president of the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel.
Hughes said companies are also being conservative about bringing product in. But she added that “a slow March suggests we might see a more robust April” as stores stock up with summer merchandise.
Looking at apparel imports among the top 10 suppliers alone, Mexico had the largest decrease, falling 10.2 percent to 77 million SME, followed by El Salvador with an 8.3 percent decline to 70 million SME. In the plus column, Cambodia had the largest increase in apparel imports, by 9.2 percent to 96 million SME.
Apparel imports from Bangladesh rose 6 percent to 148 million SME in March compared with a year earlier, but industry officials expect to see companies shift business out of Bangladesh in the wake of the tragic building collapse at Rana Plaza there that has killed more than 400 people.
“While I can’t say I know of any specific, most companies have tried to manage their risk there,” Hughes said. “Clearly the combination of the tragic incident with the building collapse, the tragic fire, the strikes and protests, companies are going to look at trying minimize risk. That will suggest we will see a decline from Bangladesh while all of this plays out.”
The U.S.’s overall trade deficit narrowed to $38.8 billion in March from $48.6 billion in February.
“In particular, imports from China collapsed, leading to the lowest trade shortfall, vis-à-vis the Asian giant, since 2010,” said Gregory Daco, senior principal economist at IHS Global Insight.
The monthly U.S. goods deficit with China declined to $17.9 billion in March from $23.4 billion in February.
“This drop in the bilateral trade deficit with Beijing may be the first tangible sign of a shift away from China as the ‘factory for the world,’” said Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing. “Then again, it may merely be the result of lower domestic demand or a seasonal ‘swoon’ in the data. It’s really too early to tell.”
“My personal philosophy to beauty is paying attention to oneself. I love to be outdoors, lots of fresh air, trying to take care of yourself as best you can. I always notice that comes through,” says Felicity Jones, the global face of @shiseido-owned @cledepeaubeauteus, which launches today. Head to WWD.com to read more about the actress’ love for beauty and how she prepared for her new role in “The Basis of Sex,” playing the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. #wwdbeauty (📷: @dandoperalski)
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews