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Outerwear Imports Recover in IH 2017 with Big Share Gains by China, Canada

U.S. outerwear imports, which dropped by double digits in 2016, recovered in the first half of 2017, according to the most recent data from the Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA).

An increase in men’s outerwear was responsible for most of the gain. Of the major sourcing countries, China enjoyed the biggest increase in dollar import share, while Canada had the biggest percentage increase. Mexico and Vietnam saw their market shares drop significantly.

Outerwear imports for the January through June period totaled $1.6 billion, down 1.4% on a dollar basis from the first half of 2016. Unit imports of outerwear increased by 1.3%, with the average cost of a garment edging down 2.7% to $11.39, evidence of the continued price pressure being exerted by U.S. brands and retailers on their overseas suppliers.

[Read more about the outerwear market: Fabric Innovation Helps Outerwear Weather the Retail Storm]

Men’s and boys’ outerwear imports increased significantly in the period, rising by 4.1% to over $800 million from $770 million in the year-earlier period, driven by an almost 12 percent surge in woven outerwear.

Women’s and girls’ outerwear imports fell by 6.2% in the first half of the year, to $806 million from $860 million, with both knit and woven outerwear declining.

China maintained its position as the largest source of U.S. outerwear imports, growing its share by 2.1 percentage points to 43.4% of total outerwear imports in the first half of 2017, or $696 million. China is the largest source of both men’s and women’s outerwear in both knit and woven fabrication segments.

Canada’s outerwear shipments to the U.S. have skyrocketed so far this year, with the dollar volume up by 126 percent, to $26 million, and units ahead by 46 percent. The average cost per garment of imported Canadian outerwear has increased by 54 percent to $102.78 in the first half of 2017. Several popular Canadian brands that manufacture some or all of their products in Canada such as Canada Goose, Arc’teryx, and Roots, among others, are no doubt driving this trend.

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Indonesia, India and Bangladesh, also key suppliers to the U.S., gained share of U.S. outerwear imports in the period.

Though the second largest source of outerwear in the first six months of 2017, at $285 million, or 18 percent of the total, Vietnam lost 0.9 percentage points of share in the period, with the biggest declines in the women’s and girls’ categories.

The first six months of the calendar year typically represent less than 30 percent of annual outerwear imports. The best indication of retailer confidence in the outlook for 2017 outerwear sales, which peak in the fourth quarter, will be how well imports track last year in the next few months.