American Industry Overview: Men's and Boys' Shirts

Industry Snapshot

Like many sectors of the apparel industry in the United States, domestic shirt makers experienced increasing competition from less expensive imports in the mid- to late 2000s. In 2005, long-standing quotas on imports were lifted, bringing a glut of inexpensive Asian products into the U.S. market, further affecting price and sales of products manufactured and marketed in the United States. In 2007, China supplied more than a quarter of the U.S. apparel market. Countries that were a part of the U.S./Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) supplied another one-fifth (19.3 percent). By November 2008, China claimed a record 54 percent of the U.S. apparel market. Indeed, by the late 2000s, a great majority of the clothing worn by Americans was not made in the United States.

Although knit shirts continued their dominance of the sector, woven dress shirts made slow increases as the trend back toward a dressier, more tailored appearance began in the mid-2000s. Although casual dress was still prevalent in corporate America, economic uncertainty and widespread layoffs were key in bringing back a more polished look to U.S. offices and service industries, and by 2004, more than 60 percent of men chose to wear tailored clothes to the office. Management no longer had to entice workers with casual dress policies and workers believed projecting a more professional image would be a wise decision in the increasingly competitive market for jobs in the 2000s.