U.S. retailers, looking to keep up sales momentum, imported 32 percent more jeans in February compared to a year earlier for a value of $607.3 million, surpassing the 27 percent increase in overall apparel shipments for the month, according to the Commerce Department’s Office of Textile & Apparel (OTEXA).
This influx jibes with comments from Jennifer Foyle, chief creative officer for American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) and brand president for Aerie, who told analysts last month that denim fueled the women’s side for a “terrific year with record revenue up 30 percent” from 2020.
February brought the company’s lowest-ever markdown rate, which meant that “we did not carry over a lot of messy inventory,” Foyle said. “We were cleaner in our clearance levels in both brands,” which she said, “are still on fire.” The denim business reached $2 billion in fourth-quarter sales at the company, she said.
The Top 5 blue denim apparel suppliers all surpassed 20 percent year-over-year import increases in February, OTEXA data revealed. Imports from Bangladesh increased 29.07 percent to $122.82 million, while shipments from Mexico rose 22.45 percent to $107.11 million.
With souring executives reporting Vietnam’s output back on track after Covid-related shutdowns, importers brought in 33.68 percent more jeans in the month compared to February 2021 for $66.16 million worth of goods. Imports from Denim maven Pakistan jumped 66.28 percent year over year to $71.44 million, while shipments reaching U.S. ports of entry from China were up 21.34 percent to $59.89 million.
Just behind these production powerhouses was Egypt, which saw its imports into the U.S. more than double to $34.46 million. Bill Curtin, who runs Jersey City, N.J.-based BPD Wash House, has just struck a deal with Egyptian denim mill Sharabati Denim to lead its U.S. East Coast and Canada sales.
“We have a global platform where we work with manufacturers around the world and with brands in the U.S.,” Curtin told Rivet. “What we’re finding…is Egypt is attractive to the USA market based on what’s happening with Covid and China…The brands were all looking to exit China,” he said, and while many would have looked at places like Egypt but didn’t have a lot of experience there “were very curious as an option because its duty free into the U.S.”
What Curtin found when he visited factories such as Sharabati was “impressive capabilities” and an understanding of the U.S market. He noted that Sharabati has two indigo rope-dye ranges and is going to add to more, “which is almost underheard of.”
Other notable second tier suppliers–Cambodia, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka, Turkey and India–also posted substantial increases in U.S. imports for the month.