News / Economy

US Jeans Manufacturers Fear EU Tariff Will Cripple Industry

High End Jean Manufacturers Fear Tariff Will Cripple Their Industryi
X
June 26, 2013 1:06 PM
The 'Made in USA' label is still coveted in many parts of the world. Some consumers, especially in Europe, will pay a high price for a pair of American-made designer jeans, many of them made in California. Now, the industry says it is being threatened by a new European tariff, which it says could cost California jobs and have an impact on other parts of the world. VOA's Elizabeth Lee has this report from Los Angeles, home of many designer jean companies.
Elizabeth Lee
The “Made in USA” label is still coveted in many parts of the world. Some consumers, especially in Europe, will pay a high price for a pair of American-made designer jeans, many of them made in California.  Now, the industry says it is being threatened by a new European tariff, which it says could cost California jobs and have an impact on other parts of the world. 

From his second floor office Peter Kim, the founder of Hudson Jeans and a connoisseur of high-end American-made jeans, has a unique perspective on the racks of expensive jeans and bolts of Italian denim on the floor below.

"I look at denim kind of like wine," said Kim. "You know, you can have the same batch of grapes. How you treat, it how you process it, you can make completely different things."   

Like wine, the price of jeans varies widely.  A pair can cost anywhere from around $10 to more than $200. While most consumers cannot afford designer jeans, Kim says premium jeans set the style for the cheaper jeans most people can afford.  

"Like high fashion, you start in the runway, and there is almost nobody that wears these runway items," said Kim. "But what happens from there is that elements of that gets trickled down to contemporary fashion, mid fashion, and ultimately into mainstream fashion."

From the wash, to the fit and the fabric from Italy, every element figures into the price tag. And one more element makes premium jeans expensive.

“We produce in Los Angeles," he said. "So, as you can imagine, it’s not cheap to produce.”

Kim says consumers in Europe buy these jeans largely for the Made in USA label.  But, for some brands, that label may soon be extinct.

The EU recently imposed a 26 percent tariff on top of the existing 12 percent on imported American premium jeans for women.   

Three-quarters of the brands producing these jeans come from California.

Ilse Metchek, of the California Fashion Association, says the tariff could send jobs to other countries and impact the local economy.

"The companies will make their jeans in Mexico, in South America," Metchek said.
 
Peter Kim also warns the consequences could be dire. 

“It’s just trying to decimate all of our business out here," he said.

American manufacturers fear other countries may see this as a golden opportunity to get into the premium jeans market.

For now, Hudson Jeans says it will absorb the tariff so consumers won’t have to pay more for their jeans. It will also continue making jeans in Los Angeles.  

At the same time, U.S. manufacturers hope that in upcoming talks between the U.S. and the European Union, leaders will find a fix for the high tariff on premium jeans.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8957
JPY
USD
120.93
GBP
USD
0.6393
CAD
USD
1.2199
INR
USD
63.470

Rates may not be current.