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Joint Economic Committee Democrats Chairman - Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM)

The Economic Impact of the Fashion Industry

This report examines the impact of the fashion industry on the U.S. economy. In 2015 alone, consumers spent nearly $380 billion on apparel and footwear. The industry, which encompasses everything from textile and apparel brands to wholesalers, importers and retailers, employs more than 1.8 million people in the United States. It relies on workers in a wide range of occupations, including fashion designers, market research analysts, computer systems developers, patternmakers, sewing machine operators and wholesale buyers.

The U.S. fashion industry is centered on two major clusters of design and innovation – New York City and Los Angeles. Together, these hubs are home to nearly two-thirds of the nation’s fashion designers – the heart of the industry’s creative process. Yet those cities are no longer the whole story. High-value jobs in the fashion industry that pay high wages are spreading throughout the country, meaning that the economic impact of the fashion industry is expanding beyond the industry’s traditional footprint.

While the future of the U.S. fashion industry lies in the high-value-added parts of the global supply chain, there are signs that companies reshoring, or bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States, in order to benefit from trends such as “fast fashion” and demand for products “Made in America.” The outcome of debate over international trade regulations will impact the U.S. fashion industry.