WASHINGTON — Under continued pressure from declining consumer demand and a stalled economy, apparel and textile imports dropped in July for the fifth consecutive month.
The volume of apparel and textile imports to the U.S. declined 4.4 percent in July compared with a year earlier, to 4.58 billion square meter equivalents, after sliding 10 percent in June, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Year-over-year import levels fell 6 percent in May, 0.6 percent in April and 11.4 percent in March.
The overall U.S. trade deficit widened sharply to $62.2 billion in July from $58.8 billion in June, led by continued imports of oil and a surge in shipments of technology sector products.
“The slowdown in U.S. demand is being felt by U.S. producers and importers, as well,” said Charles McMillion, president and chief economist at MBG Information Services. “I expect that’s going to continue. Margins are being really squeezed at every point along the supply chain, both domestically and internationally, because of the volatile exchange rate and slowing demand both in the U.S. and very rapidly abroad. It is likely to be, and in fact was, a pretty rotten back-to-school season and the holiday seasons ahead are not looking very good either.”
Despite the start of the b-t-s season in July, there was no import bounce, which does not bode well for the remainder of the year, economists said.
“In general, like most other consumer categories, the volume of imports is going to be pressured by the weakness of domestic spending in the general consumer area, which would include spending on apparel,” said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at Global Insight. “To me, it says the retailers are being very cautious. They are not expecting strength and they’re worried about if they bring in too many imports being stuck with stuff they can’t sell.”
July imports of textiles and apparel to the U.S. from China fell 4.8 percent in the month to 1.96 billion SME. In June, shipments of apparel and textiles from China fell 11.8 percent, the largest drop in more than seven years, according to Commerce’s Office of Textiles & Apparel.
The most significant increases in combined apparel and textile imports to the U.S. were from Bangladesh, Vietnam and Honduras. Bangladesh increased shipments to the U.S. by 18.5 percent to 134 million SME, Vietnam’s imports were up 17 percent to 166 million SME and Honduras increased imports 13.2 percent to 130 million SME.
Imports from Canada plummeted 28.4 percent to 120 million SME in July, and Pakistan’s shipments to the U.S. fell 9.7 percent to 246 million SME. Imports from Mexico were down 6.7 percent to 247 million SME.
China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Honduras and Mexico continued to be the top five sources of apparel to the U.S. China also topped the list of top textile suppliers, followed by Pakistan, India, Mexico and South Korea.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast