With a name change announced this month, the United States Fashion Industry Association—formerly the United States Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel—aims to broaden its focus beyond imports to take a larger view of trade in the industry.
It’s a new season in the fashion trade—and a leading industry association is updating its style and trying a new name on for size.
We care about barriers in Japan or barriers in Italy, and we are no longer just looking at access to the U.S. market.
The United States Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel, founded in 1989 to promote global trade and fight quotas on apparel imports that the industry said were limiting its growth, now hopes that a rebranding—it changed its name earlier this month to the United States Fashion Industry Association—will help expand the group’s mission and raise its voice in Washington. More details:
A changing mission: Speaking to Women’s Wear Daily, USFIA President Julie Hughes, who has been on staff at the association since its inception, says the group was successful in its original goals—numerous free-trade agreements have been signed since 1989 and quotas have been eliminated—and its membership has expanded to include industry players other than importers. All this change required a new focus for the association: “Today our goals and our mission is broader than [quotas],” she told WWD. “Our original name only mentioned U.S. importers of textiles and apparel, but our members are also exporters, retailers, and global brands. They might have a product that is developed and designed in the U.S., but the product itself never touches U.S. [soil]. We care about barriers in Japan or barriers in Italy, and we are no longer just looking at access to the U.S. market.”
Timing the rebrand: The new brand’s launch was scheduled to coincide with the association’s 25th anniversary. Over the past 10 months, the group worked on its logo and branding (replacing a text logo with a visual one that suggests embroidery), along with its mission and values statements. The main goal, albeit broader, sounds similar to its original mission: “The United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) is dedicated to the removal of barriers that impede the free movement of textile and apparel products to the United States and international markets,” the group’s mission statement says.
What’s next? Despite the name change and long-term intention to expand focus, the group’s recent trade and transportation conference, where the rebranding was announced, showed that the industry’s concerns still revolve around trade issues. These include a program of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Center of Excellence designed to expedite the process of bringing goods into the country, along with two new free-trade agreements that are still being negotiated. And the association appears to be making overtures to the “Made in America” movement. “Made in USA has always been a portion of companies’ production, but I think there is more of a focus on it now,” Hughes told WWD. “There is potential for it to grow. How large it can grow is a real question, but we support it.”
The association, which includes more than 200 members, counts executives from major brands such as Kohl’s, J.C. Penney, American Eagle, and Ralph Lauren among its board members.