WASHINGTON — Three months into its first term, the Obama administration has not filled two key posts important to the apparel and textile industries.
Some names have started to surface, however, for the posts of special textile negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the deputy assistant secretary for textiles and apparel with the Commerce Department, who serves double duty as the chair of the interagency Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements.
Industry sources said Dawn O’Connell, chief of staff for House Textile Caucus co-chair Rep. John Spratt (D., S.C.), has emerged as a leading candidate for the special textile negotiator position at USTR. O’Connell served as Spratt’s legislative director prior to her current position. A call to O’Connell was not returned.
“She’d be an excellent choice,” said one industry source. “The industry would be very pleased with her.”
The special textile negotiator position has historically been considered the “chief textile negotiator.” At one time, the position was at an ambassadorial level, but it was downgraded early in the Bush administration.
Gail Strickler, associate director for Philadelphia University’s Institute for Textile & Apparel Product Safety and a member of the Cotton Board, has thrown her hat in the ring for the Commerce position, which oversees the Office of Textiles & Apparel, and CITA job, sources said. She is well known in the industry from her time with the Textile Distributors Association, which shut down in 2007, and as the former owner of Saxon Textiles. Strickler could not be reached for comment. Industry sources indicated she would be an experienced and well-received choice.
Kim Glas, legislative director for Rep. Michael Michaud (D., Maine), also expressed interest in the position with the Commerce Department, according to sources. A call to Glas was not returned. Glas is considered more of an unknown entity in industry circles.
The deputy assistant secretary for textiles and apparel oversees Commerce Department efforts to promote the domestic industry, and helps importers and retailers with issues that impact them. The individual in that position also chairs CITA, the interagency group responsible for factors that impact textile trade policy and for overseeing the implementation of textile trade agreements. CITA also includes members from the State, Labor and Treasury Departments and USTR.
“These are two critical positions from an industry perspective,” Auggie Tantillo, president of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, said of the two open positions. “It is critical that those two individuals have a deep understanding of the industry and the policy issues that confront the industry.”
Steven Lamar, executive vice president of the American Apparel & Footwear Association, said, “These positions are on the front line of implementation of specific details of some trade programs. There is a school of thought that questions whether they are both needed given the elimination of the quota program and the integration of textiles and apparel into the general trade rules.”
The Obama administration has not given any indication it is reevaluating these positions. The USTR office declined comment and Commerce did not respond to requests for comment. Candidates for these positions in the past have been drawn from Capitol Hill and inside the industry, sources noted.
“It would be very helpful to have someone in these positions with experience in the industry or with working closely with the industry,” said Julia Hughes, senior vice president for international trade at the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews