American Apparel and Footwear Association

we wear our mission

AAFA is a powerful source of intelligence and catalyst for change in addressing the external forces that are important to the U.S. apparel and footwear industry.


we wear the facts

Sourcing Trends   |   Job Creation   |   Growing the U.S. Economy   |   AAFA Support of Made in USA Initiatives




When providing quality, stylish, and safe clothes and shoes for hardworking American families, the U.S. name brands we wear everyday face many business decisions when delivering the fashions American consumers have come to expect.

One of these major business decisions relates to the manufacturing and delivery process, often referred to as “sourcing.”  Simply put, sourcing is the process by which an article of clothing or pair of shoes jumps off the designer’s sketchpad and into your closet.  It is a highly complex process that involves designers, management, sewing machine operators, shippers, truck drivers, logistics providers, customs agents, compliance officers, merchandisers, buyers, and retail associates, among others, working together in a collaborative effort ensure the customer is able to buy the right garment at the right time at the right price. 


sourcing trends



The apparel and footwear industry is on the frontlines of globalization.  In fact, our industry’s supply chain is the most global supply chain in the history of commerce. 

Simply put: We are a nation of 330 million importers. In 2012, 97.5 percent of the apparel and 98 percent of the footwear sold in the United States was produced internationally. This model allows families to spend less of their family budgets on clothing and shoes while still getting more bang for their buck.

Sourcing is made possible through strong and positive trade relationships with a variety of countries, including China, Mexico, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Colombia, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and more.  Companies even source product from the United States.  Sourcing decisions are often made through serious processes that evaluate a country’s trade programs, environmental record, social responsibility standards, intellectual property protections, material and labor costs, shipping time, and reliability of sourcing partners.  

Over the last few years, U.S. brands and retailers have increasingly explored sourcing from within the United States. In fact, in 2012, domestic apparel and footwear manufacturing increased 8.6 percent and 9 percent respectively.  This growth builds on the gains made in 2011.  Since 2010, overall domestic apparel manufacturing has grown more than 15 percent and domestic footwear manufacturing has grown 17.6 percent. 



jobs supported by trade and domestic manufacturing



Supply chain jobs and manufacturing jobs are equally valuable to the overall health of the U.S. economy. It is wrong to foster a public policy agenda that forces these two groups to compete against each other.

The U.S. apparel and footwear industry directly employs more than four million U.S. workers, which is three percent of the entire U.S. workforce. These important jobs include textile mill workers, warehousing, sourcing managers, wholesalers, retail floor associates, technical designers, and marketing professionals, just to name a few.   Our workers can be found in every city in every state in America, as well as around the world. 

Our industry also supports countless other U.S. industries, like the more than 37,000 transportation jobs it requires to move products from the port to the sales floor and the 235,000 dry cleaning jobs required to maintain and protect the industry’s quality product. 


growing the U.S. economy by getting dressed



Last year, every single man, woman and child in the United States purchased an average of 62 garments and seven pairs of shoes, spending more than $1,100 each.  In all, Americans purchased about 20 billion garments and nearly 2.5 billion pairs of shoes. American families spent more than $350 billion at retail on new clothes and shoes in 2012.

In addition to the value of manufacturing, we estimate more than 70 percent of the retail value of most clothing and footwear comes from non-manufacturing activities that happen entirely inside the United States, like marketing, merchandising, design, brand enforcement, transportation, and more.

In terms of our economic footprint, the U.S. apparel and footwear industry is larger than the U.S. video game industry, U.S. fast food industry, U.S. soft drink industry, the U.S. alcoholic beverage industry, and even the U.S. auto industry.





AAFA support for made in USA initiatives

No two companies share the same sourcing model.  Some companies choose to source completely inside the United States and some completely source outside the United States.  Many choose a hybrid approach.  AAFA’s mission is to offer solutions for the many sourcing challenges our members face.  Our goal at AAFA is to facilitate a discussion that makes it just as easy to source across the street as it is across the ocean.

AAFA is encouraged about the renewed interest in domestic sourcing.  However, the discussion is not without its challenges.  To that end, AAFA supports Made in America efforts through several key policy initiatives, including:


Showing Strong Support
for the Berry Amendment


By far, the largest contingent of domestic apparel and footwear manufacturers produce uniforms and combat footwear for the U.S. military.  The Berry Amendment ensures our military uniform supply chain remains in American hands from the moment U.S. cotton is harvesed from U.S. fields to the time our soldiers, marines, airmen and women, and sailors wear U.S.-made uniforms to perform their jobs. The law provides a vital national security protection while simultaneously maintaining a strong domestic manufacturing base and jobs for American workers.  AAFA works around the clock to preserve Berry Amendment and fights hard against any attempt to weaken the opportunities offered by the Berry Amendment.


Reducing Federal Prisoners’
Unfair Advantage


The biggest threat to domestic apparel and footwear manufacturing is not foreign competition.  The biggest threat to domestic manufacturing is actually the U.S. government through Federal Prison Industries, a federally owned corporation that puts federal inmates to work while in prison. FPI has long been able to control majority shares of major contracts, up to 100 percent in some cases. AAFA is actively pursuing reform of the FPI program to prevent lost opportunities for new business, layoffs, plant closures, and complete business shutdowns. AAFA is also working with Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support (DLS-TS) to implement “best practices” acquisition policies in place of current reverse auction methods, and with the Department of Defense to expand the Berry Amendment to cover athletic footwear for American troops.




Leading the Discussion
about Commercial Production


Through AAFA’s Government Contracts Committee, AAFA has led an industry wide discussion about domestic manufacturing for the commercial market.   Through this discussion, we have explored many of the challenges U.S. brands and retailers encounter when seeking domestic opportunities and how domestic manufacturers can better position themselves in a globally competitive marketplace. These topics continue to be at the forefront for the committee as future meeting agendas are being developed.




Increasing the Visibility
of Domestic Manufacturers


AAFA has partnered with Tradegood ( to provide U.S. name brands and retailers with easy and convenient access to qualified domestic factories and producers. AAFA members automatically receive a complimentary membership to Tradegood’s services, including: verified supplier information, supply chain visibility, complimentary online training programs, assistance in supplier searches and access to industry events.


Promoting U.S. Exports
in the Global Market


Leveraging the growing popularity of “Made in USA” products, AAFA works to ensure free trade agreements include important provisions that open markets for U.S.-made apparel and footwear.  These opportunities include current negotiations toward a commercially-meaningful Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that stands to expand opportunities for U.S. manufacturers in lucrative markets like Japan, Australia, Singapore, and New Zealand.


Knocking Down Foreign Trade Barriers
for U.S. Manufacturers


To further assist domestic manufacturers, AAFA has developed a series of resources to make it easier for these companies to compete globally.  Other timely issues, such as the recently presented challenges brought forth by the EU’s imposed tariff on US-made women's jeans and efforts to improve U.S. leather footwear access to Japan, continue to be a driving force behind AAFA’s efforts on Capitol Hill.