US Denim Imports Continue to Shift in Favor of Low Cost Countries

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U.S. denim imports overall fell in the year to October 2017, and the market share map continues to shift.

Total imports of denim trousers across categories were down 2.51% for the period, putting the market at $2.94 billion in value, with the men’s and boy’s category dipping more than triple the less than 1 percent decline in women’s and girl’s.

China remains the United States’ largest supplier of denim trousers, though it’s share continues to slip. The Asian powerhouse commanded 25 percent of market share across the categories as of October with $738.9 million worth of exports to the U.S., though that number is down nearly 12 percent year-over-year.

Mexico ranks as the second largest supplier of denim trousers to the U.S., delivering $666.4 million worth of product—a 22.6% share of the market.

Bangladesh is currently the third largest supplier of denim trousers to the U.S., and it’s share of the market, which currently stands at 14.1% seems to be continuously on an upswing. The country exported $416 million worth of denim trousers to the U.S. in the year to October.

Rounding out the United States’ top suppliers of denim trousers, in order of import value and market share, are Pakistan, Vietnam, Egypt, Nicaragua, Indonesia, Cambodia and Lesotho.

Looking at the categories more closely, the U.S. imported $1.84 billion worth of men’s and boy’s denim trousers in the year to October, accounting for 62 percent of total denim trouser imports. In the male category, Mexico was the top supplier, though the $703.9 million worth of products it shipped to the U.S. came in nearly 9 percent lower than the prior year period. Bangladesh and China followed as the No. 2 and No. 3 suppliers in men’s and boy’s.

In women’s and girl’s, China still leads the charge in manufacturing, with nearly 39 percent market share and $637.2 million worth of denim trousers making their way into the U.S. as of October. That number, however, was still down more than 7 percent from the prior year period. Bangladesh and Vietnam ranked second and third among the U.S. top suppliers, and both countries saw their exports grow—for Vietnam, the $130.1 million worth of denim trousers it exported to the U.S. marked a 10 percent growth over the previous year.

The shift in markets points to the trend in brands moving to lower-cost markets, and though the premium denim market is thriving, it still has a minimal footprint in the greater denim industry.

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