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US fashion brands struggle with tariffs

Tariffs on goods imported from China have been devastating to small fashion brands in the US.They have added to the cost of production, which can be factored into prices very gradually, if at all. The initial tariffs only affected specific sectors like footwear so companies could adjust their assortment to minimize their impact on retail partners and customers. But the recent tariff raises which saw a ten percent increase in tax on certain imports from China, including apparel and footwear, have been a shock because of their scope and suddenness. All the goods that companies import from China will be subject to heavy tariffs. The impact will also hit women’s brands more than men’s since nearly twice the amount of women’s clothing comes from China than men’s.

Larger brands and retailers may be able absorb in the costs of increased tariffs without the consumer even noticing but smaller brands may have no choice but to pass at least some of the costs on to the consumer, which can hurt their relationship with customers.

China has become a major market for fashion. Many fashion brands either do business there — by operating their own stores locally or through Chinese retailers — or manufacture there.