Apparel Peril. Congress Plays Fashion Favorites When It Comes to Tariffs & the Sexes. Second City Style Fashion Blog

Fountain of 30

April 30, 2007 • Shopping

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Women’s Suit Trariff: 8.5%        Men’s Suit Tariff: 0

What a surprise, our government is gender biased? Apparently in apparel, all tariffs are not created equally. Men pay 28% tax on men’s imported swimsuits, but women only pay 12%. Imported wool suits? Try 8.5% for a woman and zero for a man. While there is no apparent pattern to the tariff (which penalize men in some instances, and women in others), the fees tacked onto clothing, shoes and swimwear as they enter the country’s ports may be the last legal form of sex discrimination in the United States. Year after year they are approved by lawmakers and passed on to consumers.

For decades, apparel companies have grudgingly tolerated the peculiar disparities, writing them off as politics as usual and trade negotiations.

However, several major apparel makers, like Steve Madden, Asics and Columbia Sportswear, are now challenging the tariffs in lawsuits against the federal government that have broad implications for the clothing industry, not to mention the battle of the sexes.

If the clothing companies prevail, they could reclaim close to $1 billion worth of tariffs based on gender differences. For example, the lawsuit claims that the government earned $2.5 million last year from discriminatory tariffs on underpants (penalizing women), $93 million for cotton shirts (penalizing men), $16 million for silk shirts (penalizing women) and $71 million for shoes with leather tops (women again).

Nobody seems to know exactly why these glaring disparities exist. Doesn’t it seem incredible nobody has challenged it yet? Learn more by reading the entire NYTimes article using the link below. Next, maybe someone can figure out why dry cleaners charge women more then men to clean a simple cotton shirt!

Read: "In Apparel, All Tariffs Aren’t Created Equal" by Michael Barbaro

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