FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C. – The United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) released the first-ever U.S. Fashion Industry Benchmarking Study, a survey of executives from leading textile, apparel, and fashion brands, retailers, importers, and wholesalers.
The survey was conducted in conjunction with Dr. Sheng Lu, Assistant Professor at the University of Rhode Island’s Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design. The survey asked respondents about the business outlook, sourcing practices, utilization of Free Trade Agreements and preference programs, and views on trade policy.
“This data not only provides useful insight for the broader industry, but will also help the association focus our advocacy activities as we continue to work to eliminate the tariff and non-tariff barriers that impact fashion companies doing business globally,” says Julia K. Hughes, President of the United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA).
We found that the majority of respondents (89 percent) are optimistic about the five-year outlook for the U.S. fashion industry. The majority of respondents (81 percent) are worried about rising costs, but expect only moderate cost increases in 2014.
Other key findings include:
- China will remain the dominant supplier, though Vietnam and Asia as a whole are seen as having more growth potential.
- Companies aren’t leaving Bangladesh, and are committed to compliance.
- Companies continue to look for opportunities closer to home, including the United States, as they diversify their sourcing.
- Companies are diversifying their sourcing and expect to continue to do so. However, current FTAs and preference programs remain under-utilized or don’t represent a major component of respondents’ sourcing.
- Respondents welcome the passage or renewal of all future trade agreements that intend to remove trade barriers and facilitate international trade in the industry.
“What’s clear is that our mission to eliminate those barriers to trade remains a high priority for fashion brands and retailers,” concludes Hughes. “While we were successful in getting rid of the quotas in 2005, there is a lot more to do. Fashion brands and retailers must juggle ever more complicated challenges related to cost, compliance, and competition. And the Free Trade Agreements and preference programs that should cut costs and minimize the impact of high duties simply don’t work for most companies.”
USFIA and URI surveyed executives from over two dozen U.S.-based fashion companies between March 2014 and April 2014. In terms of business size, 96 percent of respondents report having more than 100 employees in their companies, suggesting that the findings well reflect the views of the most influential players in the U.S. fashion industry.