The American Apparel & Footwear Association will be adding a new layer to its organization — legwear.

The process to include a Legwear Committee in the AAFA roster for the first time will officially commence this month. The committee will help fill the void left by The Hosiery Association, which will be dissolved Dec. 31 after 108 years in operation.

THA’s demise comes at a time when domestic apparel, footwear and accessories companies have been impacted by increased globalization. Over the past couple of decades, the THA has been affected by economic volatility and offshore sourcing and production, as well as a host of international issues including shipping and compliance. The profile of the group’s membership also changed as companies downsized and diversified, selling both hosiery and non-hosiery products.

Kevin Burke, president and chief executive officer of the AAFA, said the merging of current and former THA member companies into the AAFA will offer a wide range of services that set the tone for global business such as supply chain management, green marketing, labeling logistics and internal and domestic rules in a regulatory environment.

“This will be a natural fit for everyone,” Burke said. “They will become part of a larger organization that will give them an amplified voice and a united political view of the legwear industry. It is our expectation that THA’s 25 members will joint the AAFA, and [we] hope those members who left over the years will see the value of joining the new committee at the AAFA. Two THA members will become AAFA board members and a new legwear person will be elected.”

From a manufacturer’s perspective, Jerry Cook, vice president of government and trade at innerwear and legwear giant Hanesbrands Inc., said the consolidation will create solidarity.

“I think above all the number-one thing is this will bring all producers and brands together to [identify] what the issues are and how we can collectively be problem solvers,” Cook said. “There are fewer big companies and they are not all located together….What Kevin and the AAFA have done is combine the best of two worlds, and I think it’s great for everyone.”

Agreed Catherine Gold, owner of Goldbug, a maker of baby socks, who said the union will provide “better representation on many issues.

“The AAFA has great knowledge and expertise and a very large political voice and our voice will be significantly amplified,” said Gold.

“We are currently AAFA members and I’ve been extremely satisfied with the organization,” said Steve Mostofsky, president and ceo of TTI Global Resources, a supply chain management company specializing in legwear. “They have staffers who come from several government organizations; they have the connections, and they know who to talk to to get things done.”