WASHINGTON — U.S. textile and apparel imports fell sharply in February as the recession stifled consumer demand.
The Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles & Apparel said Thursday apparel and textile imports declined 18.9 percent to 3.3 billion square meter equivalents compared with February 2008. Textiles declined at a sharper rate than apparel, falling 22.2 percent to 1.8 billion SME. Apparel imports dropped 14.8 percent to 1.5 billion SME.
February was the 10th consecutive month in which imports to the U.S. declined in year-over-year comparisons. Total textile and apparel imports for the month were at their lowest level since February 2004.
The trade gap narrowed sharply to $26 billion in February from $36.2 billion in January, a 28.3 percent reduction. Export levels stopped falling in February, while imports continued their decline, said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist for IHS Global Insight. Imports “dived again,” he said, with big declines in consumer goods and other categories.
“The lower import volumes reflect lower spending by U.S. businesses on capital equipment, lower consumer spending and a major inventory adjustment by U.S. purchasers,” Gault said. “The import decline shows how the U.S. is passing on its demand weakness to the rest of the world.”
According to the office of the U.S. trade representative, exports of U.S. manufactured goods increased 1.6 percent to $126.8 billion in February compared with January. Imports of all goods fell 5.1 percent to $152.7 billion overall.
“Shrinking trade deficits are usually good news, but these numbers reflect the ongoing contraction in world trade overall,” U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said.
Textile and apparel shipments from China dropped 24.2 percent to 1.2 billion SME. Most of the decline was driven by a 29.9 percent decline in textile shipments to 735 million SME. Apparel imports from China fell 13.6 percent to 484 million SME.
The majority of the top 10 countries shipping apparel and textiles to the U.S. posted declines. Combined imports from Mexico slid the most in February, falling 28.6 percent to 158 million SME. South Korea’s shipments declined 18.1 percent to 113 million SME. Shipments from Honduras fell 19.5 percent to 87 million SME.
The only countries that increased import levels in February were Vietnam and Bangladesh, which continued to buck the trend of the last 10 months. Apparel and textile shipments from Vietnam increased 6.9 percent to 164 million SME and imports from Bangladesh were up 9 percent to 137 million SME.
The top five apparel suppliers to the U.S. were China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Honduras and Indonesia. China was also the top textile supplier, 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