3 Ways to Help Stop the Potential 25% Tariff Increase on Accessories

In What's New, Industry News by Lauren Parker, Accessories Magazine

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The prospect of a 25% additional tariff on certain accessories items is looming. As reported earlier, Trump upped the ante on his trade war with China, proposing a 25% tariff on $200 billion of Chinese exports. Items that would be affected include handbags, small leather goods, real and faux fur, many types of hats, and plastic apparel like ponchos. The reality remains that much of this merchandise is owned by American companies who manufacture in China. If approved, the tariff will go into effect this Fall, raising price pressure on items that have already been bought by retailers for the Holiday season. The manufacturers will have to absorb these costs. Down the road, they will get passed along to retailers, and ultimately, consumers.

The administration has announced an extension of the public commentary period from August 30th to September 5th, giving industry members more time to make an appeal to keep the tariffs at bay.

Karen Giberson, President of the Accessories Council, is fighting back on behalf of the Council’s 300 members and the industry at large. She’s been actively soliciting industry support and commentary from both manufacturers and retailers and heads to Washington DC on Monday with the Accessories Council’s lawyer to plead her case in front of a congressional panel. “Meet the Philly-based Accessories Czarina Who is Fighting the Trump Administration’s Handbag Tariffs” best illustrates her initiative.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

While Giberson already has some written testimonials from the industry, there are other ways to help her plight, plus your own company. How to help:

WRITE TO YOUR LOCAL CONGRESSMAN

“Tell your story in detail,” encourages Giberson. “Explain how these tariffs would impact your business, your family, your livelihood.” Many of these companies to be affected are small businesses, many owned by families. “While Congress has been dealing with tariffs on major industries like steel or aluminum, they have been less exposed to smaller, finished goods industries like fashion accessories. They need to understand how much this would impact our industry. Increased tariffs would already squeeze maxed-out margins on manufacturers who need to protect retailers in the immediate term. Down the road, those costs would get passed to retailers and consumers. And if consumers end up buying less, then it hurts everyone back up the line.”

To find your local congressman (or woman), click here to search by zip code.

Here are some names that handbag and accessories companies in New York and LA have already reached out to with their trade staffer contacts:

DIVERSIFY YOUR SUPPLY CHAIN

“Even if this tariff doesn’t go into effect, it has exposed a vulnerability in companies that have all their production done in one place,” says Giberson. “It’s amazing how many people only source from China, and even if it’s not tariffs, there are other things that could happen to affect production. It pays to diversify. You can’t put all your eggs in one basket; it’s time for Plan B!”

Giberson understands manufacturer concerns that it can take 12 to 18 months to source, relocate and train a new factory in a different country, but there are resources to help. “Brands can’t travel all over the world to find new resources, but there are shows where the factories come to them.”  Sourcing@MAGIC, for example, just wrapped up in Las Vegas, representing global supply chain resources from 40 countries. Sourcing@Coterie is coming to New York at the Javits on September 15-17.

MAKE A CONTRIBUTION TO THE ACCESSORIES COUNCIL LEGAL FUND

The Accessories Council has taken on all the legal costs of preparing a case and taking it to Washington. Should these tariffs pass, they will have major financial implications on the accessories industry. To learn more or contact the Council, write to karen@accessoriescouncil.org

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