President Trump has pushed to keep (and revive) manufacturing in the U.S., and that stance could potentially affect a major Japanese retail import, CNN reported. Tadashi Yanai, chairman, president, and CEO of Fast Retailing, Uniqlo’s parent company, was asked on Wednesday about Trump’s Made In U.S.A. initiative by Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun. “If I was directly told to do so, I will withdraw from the United States,” Yanai told the publication of what he would do if Uniqlo was required to manufacture stateside. Currently, the fast fashion retailer has approximately 50 stores in the U.S., with plans to open 20 to 30 additional stores in coming years, as he told the publication.
Yanai also noted that the high costs of relocating production to America would deter him from keeping its stateside retail presence. “If [manufacturing in the United States] is not a good decision for consumers, it is meaningless to do business in the United States,” he told The Asahi Shimbun.
Fast fashion behemoths aren't the only retailers that could have a tough time (and, perhaps, an aversion to) solely producing in the U.S. It would particularly tricky for luxury houses to move all manufacturing stateside, due to difficulty of sourcing certain materials, labor costs, and/or niche skill sets. Currently, just 3% of apparel sold in the U.S. is manufactured in the country as CNBC noted, versus a sizeable 46% just two decades ago. There are also concerns about the waning prestige factor of "Made In U.S.A."-labeled threads, as The Los Angeles Times noted.
Uniqlo reps provided the following statement to Refinery29 in regards to Yanai’s comments: “Uniqlo will stay true to our core business values of offering the highest quality apparel at accessible prices, and these values are central to our customer-centric philosophy. The U.S. represents one of our top priority markets as a global company."