Byline: Jim Ostroff

WASHINGTON — The American Apparel Manufacturers Association and Footwear Industries of America announced Thursday that they will merge by summer, continuing a trend that has seen the apparel trade group become more import-oriented.
The new American Apparel and Footwear Association will be headed up by AAMA president Larry K. Martin. Fawn Evenson, the FIA’s current president, will serve as president of the new trade group’s footwear division.
The combined group will have about 700 companies as members, with sales of about $225 billion annually, the lion’s share of each attributable to apparel company members.
The merger is expected to be effective by Aug. 1, pending approval of both group’s members, Martin said Thursday.
For the AAMA, the move is but the latest in a string of mergers in which it effectively acquired other groups.
Earlier this year, the Children’s Marketing Association became an AAMA division, and in recent years it has acquired longtime trade groups representing knitwear and headwear makers, among others.
Mergers have become common among industry trade groups since the early Nineties, reflecting the strong cycle of mergers and acquisitions among businesses, which reduce the number of firms available as dues-paying members of trade associations.
However, this is the first instance where the AAMA merged with a non-apparel group and the first time a name change has occurred. The AAMA over the past decade has become dominated by importers. The footwear business became virtually an all-import sector by the Eighties.
Martin said his group “obviously is open for [merger] talks with other organizations that are philosophically attuned to our aims.”