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US-China trade war, sustainability top of the mind for dominate global makers

"Two topics currently dominate denim manufacturers list of priorities as of now: the US-China trade war and sustainability. Denim manufacturers are not only adapting their operations in reaction to the US-China tariff war but also maintaining a razor-sharp focus on sustainability. They are developing new strategies to incorporate eco-friendly materials and process besides reconfiguring their production processes to avoid excess tariffs from China. Several mills among the Kingpins New York exhibitors recently echoed these developments as driving their businesses."

 

US China trade war sustainability top of the mind for dominate global makersTwo topics currently dominate denim manufacturers list of priorities as of now: the US-China trade war and sustainability. Denim manufacturers are not only adapting their operations in reaction to the US-China tariff war but also maintaining a razor-sharp focus on sustainability. They are developing new strategies to incorporate eco-friendly materials and process besides reconfiguring their production processes to avoid excess tariffs from China. Several mills among the Kingpins New York exhibitors recently echoed these developments as driving their businesses.

Increased use of eco-friendly fabrics and finishes

Many denim brands now concentrate on sustainability aspect of a fabric rather than its technical aspect. ThisUS China trade war sustainability top of the mind for dominate global compels manufacturers to use more eco-friendly fabrics and finishes. Premier denim brand Twin Dragon Denim Mills incorporates eco-finishes in all its fabrics. The brand plans to incorporate Indigo Zero a waterless dye into its processes by the end of this year. Another of its plan includes switching to biodegradable fabrics by the year-end. The company’s wash house in Los Angeles also plans to switch to laser finishing as it more eco-friendly.

Sustainability has changed the way denim mills manufacture their products. Brands are now opting for eco-friendly raw materials. They are also overhauling their production processes to ensure a more sustainable production.

In terms of styles, denim brands are focusing on vintage looks that also incorporate modern techniques and materials. These include: recycled fibers such as Repreve and laser finishes that reduce chemical and water usage. And as per Monica Betancur, South American commercial director at Kaltex America also reveals companies are being cautious, especially about China as business is tough right now.

The statistics on denim imports to the US reflects, jeans imports from China dropped 17.02 per cent to $564 million in the first nine months of the year. For the 12 months through September, the country’s imports from China declined 11.67 percent to 21.22 percent. On the other hand, its denim apparel imports from Mexico rose by 5.56 percent to $625.84 million; it’s also market share increased by 6.73 per cent to 21.98 per cent. The company believes in maintaining a collaborative relationship with its brand and provides product support and customer services.

Emergence of new growth centers

As companies are seeking a tariff-free sourcing alternative with a low learning curve, Pakistani mill Artistic Milliners is seeing a strong pickup in business. The company’s exports to the US increased by 8.97 percent to $194.95 million in the year through September. Besides the US, it is also seeing a growth in business from Canadian and European firms. It customises fabrics and jeans with a range of finishes and styling, besides re-engineering its washing and dyeing processes to improve its ecological footprint.

Mexican companies like Global Denim are also registering business from new companies that source in China to avoid tariff costs. These companies are relying on the duty-free benefits offered by North American Free Trade Agreement under USMCA. They hope the bill to be passed in the Congress before this year’s end. Overall, though times are tough for the denim industry, these are not expected to last forever. This slowdown is cyclical in nature. In the first nine months of this year, US denim imports increased by just 0.43 per cent. However, their demand soon picked up to grow by 2.81 per cent to $3.87 billion for the 12 months through September.

The opening of the Vidalia Mills in Lousiana has also provided a fillip to the Made in America denim production. The mill plans to use Lenzing’ Tencel fiber to make its denims as it is derived from wood pulp and produced in a closed loop manufacturing structure. Denim manufacturers are also aligning their operations to the ongoing U.S.-China tariff war as well as brands and consumers’ focus on sustainability.

 
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