Reflecting the volatile sourcing environment created in great part by the U.S.-China trade war, the first half of 2019 saw significant swings in denim apparel sourcing.
Imports of the category from China dropped 10.44 percent in the six months through June to a value of $369.97 million. This brought China’s market share of the category–97 percent of which are denim jeans–down to 22.82 percent, a 5.11 percent decline for the year ended June 30.
Levi Strauss & Co. said it has drawn down its reliance on China as a source for its jeans. Imports from China now represent less than 8 percent of overall production for Levi’s and the company said it is in the process of bringing that number down to “very low-single-digits” by 2020. Many brands have followed suit in denim and overall apparel to limit risks from tariff threats by President Trump and increased costs in China.
All of the other Top 5 suppliers posted gains in the amount of denim they shipped to the U.S., with each growing their market share. Mexico, the No. 2 denim supplier to the U.S., inched up on China to hold a 22.16 percent market share. Jeans imports from Mexico rose 14.44 percent to $410.07 million, leading a Western Hemisphere increase of 12.03 percent to $509.74 million, which also included a 28.02 percent gain by Nicaragua to $55.19 million, and a 12.06 percent advance by Guatemala to $16.22 million.
Among the major Asian apparel suppliers, Vietnam and Pakistan are the big winners so far this year, while Cambodia and Indonesia lost ground, and Bangladesh maintained the status quo.
Jeans imports from Vietnam jumped 29.36 percent to a value of $142.36 million. The country’s market share rose 36.39 percent to 8.38 percent for the 12 months, as makers look to capitalize on its apparel manufacturing expertise.
Pakistan, which benefits from also being a major supplier of denim fabric, saw its first-half imports to the U.S. rise 15.49 percent to $119.72 million. The country’s market share increased 16.27 percent to 6.69 percent.
On the downslide, jeans imports from Cambodia fell 8.47 percent to a value of $45.89 million and Indonesia’s shipments were down 2.54 percent to $35.57 million. Denim apparel imports from Bangladesh rose just 1.13 percent in the period to $247.5 million, although its market share grew 4.96 percent to 14.5 percent.