China clothing export
China is a huge force when it comes to garment manufacturing for the US market. In recent years we have seen over 40% of clothing imports to the US coming from there. However, in 2016 the amount of shipments to the US has slowed to around 35% of their vast market, but still figures remain around $30bn per year.
The main reason for this decline is rising salaries in China, forcing fashion brands to look elsewhere for cheaper labour. Many brands have now started more production in countries such as Vietnam, Bangladesh and India, with Vietnam seeing the larger share of the business. In 2016 Vietnam production grew by nearly 4% to around $11bn a year. Vietnam and the US have had a free trade agreement for years which has recently ended but industry experts are saying this will not affect the increase in apparel production there for the US market. Columbia Sportswear, for example, have a huge production facility in the country.
Bangladesh has seen good growth in the US clothing market too, with $5.3bn produced in 2016. H&M and Zara both taking advantage of the extremely low salaries. Meanwhile India only exported $3.6bn to the US this year, however their main focus and income comes from textiles and fabric production. Mexico has also seen a drop in clothing exports to the US this year. In 2016 they exported $3.3bn but for many years were the second highest producer, behind China.
The clothing market to some 300 million Americans is huge and now getting more competitive, with not only China reaping huge sums.