WASHINGTON — The U.S. International Trade Commission has formed a snapshot of the domestic performance outerwear industry amid questions about whether trade restrictions in the category should be eased.
The new research shows there are just 13 U.S. manufacturers of outerwear such as ski pants and jackets for firefighters. Both sides in the debate, importers and domestic producers, seized on the data to support their positions.
Importers argue that, in the absence of a commercially viable U.S. performance outerwear industry, trade barriers such as tariffs should be brought down to ease the flow of commerce. However, textile lobbyists contend that a small but important band of producers are hanging on and need support in the form of import restrictions.
"We want to be in there and make it clear...that we now have verifiable data that shows this is a separate kind of product," which should be excluded from restrictions, said Alexander Boian, legislative affairs associate for the Outdoor Industry Association, representing importers.
Exceptions have already been made for performance outerwear. In 2005, U.S. and Chinese negotiators excluded ski pants and similar products from an agreement that imposed quotas on 34 types of imports from China through the end of 2008.
According to the commission's study, which drew on industry information collected through questionnaires and interviews, the 13 companies that produced performance outerwear pants and jackets saw production slide 28.1 percent last year to 650,000 pieces. The value of those shipments was placed at about $52 million. More than half of the shipments went to the military or U.S. government, which is, in some cases, legally bound to look first to domestic producers to meet their needs.
"We have a sense that there is something out there — it's small, but it's still an industry in the United States," said Scott Quesenberry, special textile negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. "The fact that it's small doesn't indicate either way, in terms of protecting it or not protecting [it]."
Often made of highly technical fabrics, performance outerwear is designed to protect the wearer from the elements during outdoor activities such as skiing or hiking, or from the extremes encountered in fighting fires, cleaning up chemical spills and so forth."They showed there are U.S. apparel producers and I didn't know any existed," said Cass Johnson, president of the National Council of Textile Organizations. "If they were to put in a bill or to say, 'We want the tariffs removed,' all we'd have to say is, 'Just look at this report. There are producers both on the apparel side and the fabric side.'"
A spokesman for the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition said trade policies are leaving these U.S. producers with a tenuous business model too dependent on military orders.
"These are critical companies that we need to make sure stay in business and we need to make sure that more of this business comes back to the Western Hemisphere," he said.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty