Industry stakeholders feel confident about the outlook for the US fashion industry, both in 2021 and the next 5 years due to increasing vaccinations and robust economic recovery from COVID-19 in the US and globally, according to a recent survey. Around 60 per cent of respondents expect a full recovery of sourcing value or volume to pre-COVID level by 2022.
In 2021, surging costs are a top concern for US fashion companies. Disruptions from COVID have driven up production and sourcing costs and causing shipping delays and supply chain disruptions. In response, US fashion companies have employed strategies including strengthening relationships with key vendors, emphasising sourcing agility and flexibility and leveraging digital technologies, according to eighth annual Fashion Industry Benchmarking Study by the United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA).
Conducted in conjunction with Dr Sheng Lu, associate professor in the University of Delaware department of fashion & apparel studies, the survey asked respondents about the business outlook, sourcing practices, utilisation of Free Trade Agreements and preference programmes and views on trade policy. Executives from over 30 leading fashion brands, retailers, importers and wholesalers, including some of the largest brands and retailers in the country were surveyed, USFIA said in a press release.
The study also found that Asia remains the dominant supplier of apparel. This key finding has been consistent over the last eight years. Almost all the top ten most-utilised apparel sourcing destinations in 2021 are Asia-based, led by China (93 per cent), Vietnam (87 per cent), India (77 per cent), and Bangladesh (73 per cent).
Respondents represent companies with headquarters or major management offices in the US. This year, around 75 per cent of respondents also have headquarters or major management offices outside the US, including China (27 per cent), Asia other than China (46 per cent), Europe (18 per cent), Eastern and Central America (16 per cent) and Mexico (4 per cent) among others.
In addition to 100 per cent selling products in the US, over half of respondents also sell products in Canada, Western Europe, Mexico and Asia. These patterns reflect the global nature of fashion business today and the ever-closer connection of the US fashion industry with markets.