If you have been paying attention to the US national spending trends on clothing since 2011 you will notice that there has been some interesting changes in how the US, along with the rest of the world, shops for clothing. According to the US Department of Labor Statistics the Average Annual expenditures on Apparel shopping had been declining steadily since the 2011 annual average of $1,740 to a low point in 2013 annual average of $1,604, but in mid-2014 US apparel spending bounced back to annual average of $1,706 and is expected to continue to increase. During those same years a rebound trend was noticed in US made clothing which resulted in a 6.2% increase in sales.
Along with that The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) President and CEO Juanita D. Duggan announced in January/2015, “apparel and footwear contributed a record $361 billion to the U.S. economy in 2013, a bigger contribution than new cars, alcohol, toys, or practically any other industry.”
So what does all this mean exactly? Are we spending less but now have more clothes? Is the American clothing manufacturing industry back on top? Well not really, even with the record breaking increase 97% of all apparel sold in the US is still imported. What it does mean is that consumers are out there spending again and are buying more products. The recession mixed things up in all industries and as we continue to bounce back from it, more and more fashion trends get moved around in the mix. A new economy brings in new opportunities for new ideas, new brands and new designs to enter the picture.
But was this shifting in the fashion industry by accident or by design? Interestingly enough in early June/2015 during an agricultural forum held by the World Trade Organization the US accused China for the surging polyester content of wardrobes the world over as they claimed China has been stockpiling huge amounts of cotton for years which has led to “an increase in the use of polyester to the detriment of all cotton-producing countries.”
Other accusations said were that China is paying out huge subsidies to its cotton sector, about $5.1 billion in the 2013-2014 growing season. Between these outlays and its stockpiling, China is causing cotton prices to plunge on the international market altogether.
But is that the only reason prices have fallen? Maybe not, as China also cut back on its cotton imports which left much more cotton for the rest of the world to purchase and they also improved their polyester’s quality over the years thanks to declining oil prices, which would make polyester cheaper as China exports massive amounts of.
So what does this mean for the consumer? Well regardless of the country relations there is one thing that is evident, as clothing materials have gotten cheaper the quality for lesser known brands have gotten better. This has opened up the door for other international countries to sell their products to world consumers, such as the small up trend of the South American ‘Butt-lift’ jeans, which have found a market in Canada, Australia and certain parts of the US.
Another trend that has been seen is lesser known brands have benefitted from this quality increase which allows them to openly compete with bigger brands. Smaller brands also experienced a large growth in Google searches between mid-2014 and mid-2015 like; Cello Jeans (68% average search increase in 12 months), GJG Denim (31% average search increase in 12 months), Flying Monkey Jeans (86% average search increase in 12 months) and Silver Diva Jeans (24% average search increase in 12 months).
So what are you waiting for? Try a new bold or fierce brand today and open up your wardrobe to the new Fashion possibilities as 2015 promises to be the year of fashion trend changes.