WASHINGTON — Apparel and textile imports hit an all-time high of 4.8 billion square meter equivalents in June, an increase of 4.4 percent from a year earlier, according to a Commerce Department report Thursday.
The rise was fueled by increased shipments from countries such as Pakistan, India and South Korea, which counterbalanced a decline of 1.3 percent in imports from China, which are restrained by quotas on some goods.
The U.S. trade deficit on all goods and services narrowed to $64.8 billion in June from $65 billion in May, the Commerce Department said.
Apparel and textile imports of 25.1 billion SME in the first half of the year were a 2 percent increase over the year-earlier period and also set a record. Those imports were valued at $42.9 billion. Despite the dip in June, China is still the largest fashion exporter and a potent force, commanding a third of the U.S. market and spurring the six-month gain with shipments of 8.1 billion SME, a 3 percent rise.
Stripping away textile goods, apparel imports from the world fell 2.4 percent in the first half to 10.2 billion SME, driven down by a 14.6 decline in China's apparel shipments to 2.4 billion SME.
This is partially due to a U.S.-China three-year deal struck in November that set quotas on 34 types of goods. The deal followed events stemming from the end of the global quota regime in January 2005, which saw Chinese imports surge and led to the Bush administration imposing safeguard quotas on a range of categories.
The move created much uncertainty in companies' sourcing plans and a strategic shift in where firms manufactured. The new restrictions on China added to the need to diversify production and have been a boon for apparel producers in other countries, especially in Asia.
The import picture is somewhat different when looking at just apparel, thanks in large part to the scuttling in January 2005 of a global system of quotas that regulated trade for three decades.
Bangladesh, with strength in cotton trousers; Indonesia, with a focus on cotton knit shirts and blouses, and Vietnam, moving ahead in several kinds of cotton apparel, all posted double-digit increases for the six months."For many of those countries, their industries were afraid of China," said Julia Hughes, vice president of international trade at the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel. "What we have seen is that, while China is strong, it has not overwhelmed other suppliers and that there are many countries that are doing well in the U.S. market."
Without restraints on China, however, the import situation could look quiet different. Domestic textile companies fought for continued restrictions on China, hoping it would result in a stronger apparel manufacturing base in the Western Hemisphere to buy their products.
Missy Branson, senior vice president of the National Council of Textile Organizations, said the restraints on China are working to some degree.
"Are we losing some business to other Asian producers that don't use U.S. yarns and fabrics? Yes," said Branson. "We're also maintaining and sustaining business in this hemisphere, as well."
Separate Commerce Department figures show exports from U.S. textile mills, which include yarns, fabrics, sheets and carpeting, increased 2.1 percent for the first five months of this year and were valued at $5.2 billion.
Shipments to Canada increased 9.1 percent to $1.2 billion. Goods going to Colombia rose 32.2 percent to $64.6 million and those headed for Costa Rica gained 23.6 percent to $49.5 million. Exports to China have also been heading up, rising 25.9 percent to $163.5 million.
“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