35% Fall In Denim Fabric Imports In USA in 2009 – A report

The first half of this year ( period Jan-May 2009) has seen a drop of 34% in the imports of Denim Fabrics into US. This is surprising if we consider that the sales of Jeans in during this period has actually increased by 2.3 %.

But as mentioned in this previous report , sales Super of Premium Denim Jeans ( $200 + Jeans) in the US has taken a knock. And the same is reflected in lower production of Premium Denim Jeans in US and thus lower imports of denim fabrics . Lets analyze these figures :

Consolidated Data for Denim fabrics:

                                    Jan-May 2008            Jan- May 2009

Imports in US

(Linear mtrs)         13 Million Mtrs          8.6 Million Mtrs


Here I am giving the figures of  denim fabrics reflecting the exports of Denim Fabrics from various countries during this period.


Imports of Denim Fabrics In USA in Jan- May 2009

Country Jan-May 2008 Jan-May 2009 %Change
(Figures   in 1000 mtrs )  
China 4,362 2,568 -41%
Italy 2,085 1,022 -46%
Taiwan 1,720 1,903 +10%
Mexico 1,639 1,682 +3%
Turkey 1,505 305 -80% !
Japan 456 540 +18% .Good !
Slovenia 397 0 -100% !
Bahrain 373 203 -45%
Pakistan 140 16 88%
Spain 87 10 -89%
Hong Kong 56 10 -81%
Indonesia 88 0 -100%
India 16 43 +161%

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Int’l Trade Commission.However
square mtr figures have been converted to Linear mtrs(1m=1.55sq m average) for easy understanding.

This fall in the imports of Denim fabrics into US coincides with an increase

in sales of Jeans. This can indicate the following:

a) Manufacturing of Premium jeans in US has taken a knock.
b)Some of the Premium Denim Brands may have actually shifted part of their productions overseas to reduce costs.

It is also interesting to see that where countries like China , Italy  and Turkey have lost substantial volumes, others like  Taiwan, Mexico and Japan have gainedHere, however, it should be noted that Premium Denim brands have a marked preference for Japanese denim fabrics . However, these fabrics may not always come directly from Japan only.They are sometimes  routed through China and Hongkong also .

Taiwan is a quiet but regular exporter of denim fabrics. It does not figure anywhere as a large denim manufacturing country  , but it does manufacture very specialized denim fabrics and US has always been its regular buyer . And for the last few years, Premium Denim manufacturers have been using its fabrics in volumes.

Italy and Turkey are two other major countries to have their exports reduced.  However, with improving market in US, their exports might pick up a bit.

Other countries are really so small in their export figures that % changes in their figures hardly make a difference.


  1. Well, I’ve been looking at the numbers and something caught my attention (56-10 is not -45%). I’ve opened my excel sheet and analized the whole chart and surprise, surprise. It’s wrong!

    Whoever published this info….. Just be careful next time, you can damage the big picture to begin with.


  2. Sorry… I just noticed again the totalizing percentage claimed to be lost is actually 36% instead of 34%. Sandeep, Are you missleading people to believe your numbers and look in a different region to “buy” jeans? Are you from India? What’s the purpose of beeing dramatic and “touch” data?

  3. Hi Jumaraga,
    I would like to thank you for pointing out the % calculation error in the report . I have just corrected the same.
    To answer your suggestion regarding totals : Yes, you are right. It is better to have totals at the end. But since the number of countries was quite large and their individual figures insignificant, it would be cumbersome to show all of them .If they were clubbed together , it would not be much appealing either. Hence I thought it best to show the total figures in the beginning and then give the figures of the major exporting countries.
    Regarding your comment about misleading people : I don’t think anyone in a similar position or experience as myself would think of doing that . Nor do I see any reason to do that ! And I don’t see if these figures can in any way be called “Dramatic” but would definitely like to know the reason for adding such a description.
    I have yet to find a site which by providing import export figures, can influence consumers to buy in a different region of the world !. If you come across such a site, pl do let me know. For sure, my site is not in that league ! Also, the data has been collected from US govt sources only. If you find any data incorrect, let me know and I would gladly correct the same
    The purpose of this site is to aggregate information and data on denim from around the world and publish it . I am always open to receiving any suggestions regarding errors and they are immediately acted upon. Thanks

  4. Dear Sandeep,
    I used the term dramatic due to 34% fall is such a huge number that I cannot describe it better than that. Data means different things depending upon the point of view. I’m sure you have followed the trend for a long time and just now a significant number of 34% really means a decline. If so, why? a or b or both.. Anyway is just a matter of interpretetion. Your findings are extremelly interesting to me and really makes me think on market share and global economy. Appreciate your comments and hope to help you in the future.
    Thank you and best regards

  5. Dear Jumaraga,
    Thanks for your comment. The figures do look dramatic since the fall seems large. However, we need to still wait till the end of the year to come to a conclusion whether 2009 has/ is a bad year for denim production in US.
    HOwever, the data is somewhat corroborated by the previous report regarding the fall in Super Premium Denim category sales by about 17% (source USA Today report). Further the sales of many brands including True Religion have been quite dissatisfactory which further adds the evidence . On the other hand, the sales of Levi’s , Lee, Wrangler jeans etc have increased, which indicates that the consumers have partly directed their purchases towards the low priced denim brands..

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