Fashion Industry Sends Recommendations to Congress to Smooth Transition Out of COVID-19 Crisis

April 30, 2020 | WASHINGTON, D.C.

Today three associations representing the fashion, apparel, footwear, and travel goods industry sent a letter to Congress with recommendations for future stimulus measures to help American businesses as the country emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic. Signed by the American Apparel & Footwear Association, Council of Fashion Designers of America, and the Travel Goods Association, the recommendations include specifics on programs developed by the CARES Act, trade policy programs and procedures, tax credits, and initiatives that have been proposed by Members of Congress. The letter was sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer.

Included in the recommendations are:
- Suggested modifications to programs in the CARES Act to provide liquidity to more companies and to help companies keep more Americans on payroll;
- Requests for the extension of duty payment deferrals and tariff relief to include those products that have been excluded to date, such as those hit with duties under the Section 301 tariffs;
- Renewal of trade preference programs, including the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act and the Generalized System of Preferences, which provide trade preferences to countries that meet specific requirements;
- Expansion of tax credits, business interruption insurance, and liability protection; and 
- Support for childcare funding to help families get back to work.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a health crisis that is leaving an economic crisis in its wake,” said Steve Lamar, president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association. “As companies have closed stores and limited operations in line with public health guidance to protect workers and consumers, they have been unable to bring in the revenue they need to pay their employees and the bills that come with running a business. While the CARES Act and other measures have provided the liquidity and cash flow to fill a few of the gaps, there are many more that need to be addressed, particularly to help companies who have been on the front lines of repurposing factories and supply chains to make and distribute items of personal protective equipment. We are providing Congressional leadership with an overview of what is on our industry’s mind and what our members need to retain and re-activate as many Americans as possible in the workforce, so that we can recover quickly.” 

"While Congressional action put in place programs that provide support for businesses during the pandemic, additional relief is needed," said Steven Kolb president and CEO of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. "As fashion and retail look to reopen in the near future, the ability to rehire workers is critical. There is more that Washington can do, starting with changes to the CARES Act while considering other steps outlined by our organizations." 
"The small, mostly family-owned businesses that comprise the U.S. travel goods industry – those which make, market, and sell luggage, totes, backpacks, handbags, and other products for people who travel, and its 100,000 American workers – face a unique dual challenge: stay afloat while virtually all travel is banned and all retail is shut down," said Michele Marini Pittenger, president and CEO of the Travel Goods Association. "The reality is that in the current crisis, when no one is traveling and there are no stores open, no one is buying a suitcase, or a tote, or a backpack. This letter includes practical measures that can help our industry to survive now and assist us to get to the other side of this crisis. Now is not the time to leave any tools in the toolbox, especially when so many jobs are at stake." 
The letter in its entirety is available for download here
About the American Apparel & Footwear Association
The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) is the national trade association representing apparel, footwear and other sewn products companies, and their suppliers, which compete in the global market. Representing more than 1,000 world famous name brands, we are the trusted public policy and political voice of the apparel and footwear industry, its management and shareholders, its nearly four million U.S. workers, and its contribution of more than $400 billion in annual U.S. retail sales. AAFA provides exclusive expertise in trade, brand protection, and supply chain & manufacturing to help our members navigate the complex regulatory environment and lower costs. Members gain unparalleled access to information and exclusive insights on regulation and policy, and premier opportunities for networking and collaboration.

About the Council of Fashion Designers of America
The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc. (CFDA) is a not-for-profit trade association founded in 1962 with a membership of 477 of America’s foremost womenswear, menswear, jewelry, and accessory designers. The organization provides support to its Members with timely and relevant thought-leadership and business development information. Emerging designers and students are supported through professional development programming and numerous grant and scholarship opportunities. In addition to hosting the annual CFDA Fashion Awards, the organization owns the Fashion Calendar and is the organizer of the Official New York Fashion Week Schedule. The CFDA Foundation, Inc. is a separate, not-for-profit organized to mobilize the membership to raise funds for charitable causes and engage in civic initiatives.

About the Travel Goods Association
The Travel Goods Association (TGA) is the national organization that represents the manufacturers and retailers of travel products. Comprising a $31.2 billion-a-year industry, travel goods include luggage, casual bags, computer cases, backpacks, handbags and travel accessories – those items consumers use every day while traveling to work, across campus or around the world. TGA is the organizer and sponsor of The Travel Goods Show, the largest annual exhibition of travel products in the world.