The democratization of global jeans manufacturing seemed to reach new levels in the first quarter of 2022.
U.S. jeans imports increased 37.55 percent year to date though March to a value of $965.32 million. The sourcing of blue denim apparel, once dominated by China and Mexico, saw significant U.S. import increases from Bangladesh and Pakistan to Egypt and Turkey, while those two mainstays posted more moderate gains.
Last month Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh said the company’s supply chain has become “truly a global footprint.”
“We don’t manufacture a whole lot in China anymore,” Bergh told Wall Street analysts. “We’ve been slowly divesting manufacturing out of China, if you will, and kind of playing our chips elsewhere on the global map. So today, I think we’re manufacturing somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 percent of our global production is in China.”
The import surge saw shipments from top supplier Bangladesh rise 47.26 percent in the period to $196.26 million, while No. 3 producer Pakistan’s imports jumped 69.65 percent to $116.04 million and Vietnam’s shipments increased 41.42 percent to $107.03 million.
Artistic Milliners is expanding its presence in Pakistan with a new $60 million 500,000-square-foot facility that, at full capacity, will boost production 30 percent. Already in operation and shipping product, the factory will be able to produce 600,000 pieces per month, reaching 43.2 million pieces per year.
Sandwiched between these powerhouses was No. 2 supplier Mexico, which saw its imports into the U.S. grow 15.9 percent to $168.6 million, and China, with goods entering the U.S. increasing 25.12 percent to $89.95 million.
The rest of the Top 10 U.S. jeans suppliers also posted varying increases in the three-month period. Imports from Egypt skyrocketed 132.21 percent to $55.59 million, while shipments from Turkey rose 58.23 percent to $21.81 million.
Asian manufacturers Cambodia and Sri Lanka posted first-quarter gains of 29.52 percent to $50.51 million and 33.92 percent to $17.14 million, respectively, while Nicaragua rounded out the Top 10 with a gain of 8.23 percent to $31.73 million.
The country was part of a Western Hemisphere jeans imports increase of 18.46 percent to $219.81 million, aided by notable growth from Columbia and Guatemala.