Trade War Nightmare Could Destroy American Bridal Grown Industry

Bridal gown and special occasion trade organizations are divorcing from President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” trade war, claiming, the 25% tariff hit list on $200 billion of Chinese imports will affect materials used to make wedding dresses, could threaten the entire industry into extinction.

The 25% tariffs on bridal attire would skyrocket costs, damage the entire industry, and trigger massive layoffs.

“Suddenly raising tariffs to 25% is like a heroin overdose,” Stephen Lang, owner of New Jersey-based Mon Cheri Bridals, told Fortune.

Lang told the U.S. Trade Representative in Washington on Wednesday that the trade war “will wipe us out completely. My industry could be out of business in a year. I will lose my home and all my assets.

The hearings come as the Trump administration considers an additional 25% tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese imports.

Last week, 661 US companies and trade groups sent a dire letter to President Trump urging him to de-escalate trade war with China.

Bridal designers, manufacturers, and shop owners were also present on Capitol Hill this week addressing the fact that wedding dress makers already pay a 16% duty, any more tariffs could produce severe financial hardships even though the gowns are made in America.

“As a designer, I’ve always been passionate of keeping labor inside the U.S. as much as possible and supporting local textiles,” says Rebecca Schoneveld, who sells her own and like-minded designers’ lines of handcrafted gowns at her Brooklyn-based shop Schone Bride. “But specialty fabric, trims, and silks—most of those don’t exist in the U.S. We don’t have silk worms or mulberry trees. The Silk Road is called the Silk Road for a reason.”

Lang, whose supply chains involve over 49 Chinese factories for gown production – can’t rework his supply chains out of the country.

“If I was making socks, I could go to Bangladesh or India or the Caribbean,” said Lang. “But for bridal, I can’t get the material I need from anywhere but China. And there’s no way that these other countries would be able to absorb the production that this industry needs.”

Ann Campeau, president of the National Bridal Retail Association and co-owner of five bridal shops, told Fortune many US manufacturers are eating the tariff costs rather than passing it along to the 6,400 independently owned bridal shops across the country. She warned that manufacturers would soon enter a period where absorbing the extra costs would be financially damaging, would have to push the additional charge directly to consumers.

“I think short term it won’t put my stores out of business,” she said, “but if I’m paying more, I buy fewer dresses so it will eventually affect manufacturers.”

The National Retail Federation spokeswoman makes it clear that the Trump administration is entirely wrong about who pays for the tariffs.

“Tariffs are taxes paid by American consumers, not foreign countries,” said Bethany Aronhalt, a spokeswoman for the National Retail Federation. “If the administration’s latest tariff threat takes effect, just about every U.S. industry would take a hit, and the bridal industry is no exception. Everything from a bridal dress and the groom’s suit to jewelry, shoes, and wedding decor could cost more if the trade war escalates.”

And a very appropriate song as the trade war escalates and sends American companies into complete disarray — is Another One Bites the Dust by Queen.

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