Interview with Kevin Burke

Kevin Burke
Kevin Burke
President and CEO

We've said many times that "free trade agreements" are not fully "free trade".
Kevin Burke, the president and CEO of American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) speaks about issues related to the industry during an interview with Fibre2Fashion Correspondent Manushi Gandhi. Synopsis: Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) was formed in August 2000 to promote the business of apparel and footwear. It was formed by the merger of: 1. The American Apparel and Manufacturers Association (AAMA) and 2. Footwear Industries of America(FIA). Kevin Burke is associated with AAFA since last 13 years. He has an experience of more than 30years as a government relations professional. Mr. Burke has previously led government relations efforts for Food Distributors International, the American Bakers Association, and the National Broadcasters Association. He received a a bachelor's degree from the State University of New York at Brockport.He also holds master's degree in public administration in 1983 from the American University in Washington D.C. Excerpts:

What steps have been taken by AAFA to encourage as well as enforce ethical business practices in the apparel making industry?

We believe that all workers in the global apparel and footwear industry should be treated with fairness and respect. To that end, AAFA has aggressively led educational and training programs all around with the world on important topics like product safety, chemical management, fire and worker safety, environmental compliance and more. We also work to build consensus and share industry best practices on these complex challenges.

What is the total number of members associated with your organisation? Why is it important for an apparel businessman to have AAFA membership?

Representing more than 425 members and 1,000 world famous brands, the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) is the trusted public policy and political voice of the apparel and footwear industry. Its management and shareholders, its four million U.S. workers, and its contribution of $350 billion in annual U.S. retail sales. AAFA stands at the forefront as a leader of positive change for the apparel and footwear industry. With integrity and purpose, it delivers a unified voice on key legislative and regulatory issues. The association enables a collaborative forum to promote best practices and innovation. Our comprehensive work ensures the continued success and growth of the apparel and footwear industry, its suppliers, and its customers.

What kind of competition the US apparel industry expecting from other nations across the world?

U.S. brand names are the best in the world. As the industry continues to compete in the global market, a variety of market access make global growth challenging. AAFA has worked with its members to develop new member resources to better navigate these market access issues, like labeling requirements and intellectual property protections. Our country profiles cover these market access issues for 13 countries, and we have more profiles set to be released soon.

Do you feel that reigning textile and apparel giants may loose their market in the near future?

China continues to be the largest supplier of apparel and footwear to the U.S. market. We expect that to hold true for the next several years. However, countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, and Bangladesh continue to grow their market share each year. How each of these countries addresses quality, capacity, infrastructure, and safety challenges will impact their future success in the global market.

America is one of the largest importers of textiles. Why so? Why not produce it locally for apparels made in the US?

In short, Americans love fashionable, affordable, and safe clothes and shoes. We spent about $350 billion on nearly 20 billion new garments and 2 billion pairs of shoes last year. In fact, the United States represents just five percent of the world’s population, but we buy 25 percent of the world’s clothes and shoes. In 2012, more than 97 percent of the apparel and 98 percent of the footwear sold in the United States was produced globally. At the same time, last year marked the first ever growth in U.S. domestic manufacturing for the commercial market. “Made in the USA” is growing in popularity in the United States. We also see that the “Made in the USA” label is extremely popular in countries like China, the United Kingdom, and more.
Published on: 06/06/2013

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of

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