Describe the value chain map for woven apparel in the US, including key players in each segment

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Describe the value chain map for woven apparel in the US, including key players in each segment

Hi there! Thanks so much for coming to Wonder with your question on the apparel value chain for the United States. In short, I was able to find a diagram of the value chain from inputs to sale -- described in detail below. Key players in the textile and apparel areas include Milliken and Company, Standard Textile Company, and WL Gore for textiles, and Nike, TJX Companies, Adidas, VF and L Brands for apparel brands. Please see below for a deep dive of my findings.

The best source for the apparel value chain is this report by the Duke University Center on Globalization, Governance, and Competitiveness. While it is a bit dated (2011), the value chain itself doesn't change much, and they provide extremely detailed information on the topic, including diagrams. While the report is on the global chain, as you will see from the diagram on page 11, North America is clearly represented, and one can see that the process itself will be the same. To simplify viewing, I have taken a screenshot of the value chain map and put it into a slide here.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so I recommend starting with the slide above, but I will do my best to describe the value chain below.

According to the Duke report diagram, the inputs are divided into two categories: 1) cotton, wool, silk, etc., and 2) oil and natural gas. Under component networks, cotton, wool and silk are spun into yarn and woven into fabric, and oil and natural gas undergo petrochemical processing and become synthetic fibers, which are then also woven into fabric. This process is done by textile companies.

The fabric then goes to the apparel manufacturers, either North American garment factories and their domestic or Mexican/Caribbean subcontractors, or directly to the Asian contractors, who may have additional subcontractors. This production network is where the textile is manufactured into apparel.

At this stage the product is turned over to the export networks -- the retail outlets -- and handled by brand-name apparel companies, overseas buying offices, and trading companies.
Finally, under marketing networks, the products are sold via department stores, speciality stores, mass merchandise chains, discount chains, and other (outlets, mail order, etc.).

As indicated by the value chain map, the two primary types of companies involved are textile companies and apparel companies. I will provide below the key US players in each category as requested. Other companies do enter the process (trading companies, mass merchandise chains, etc.) but listing key players in each of these networks as well would be out of scope for one response. If that information is helpful to you, please submit an additional request and we will be happy to research those as well. For each company, I have pulled their revenue from Hoovers, a global database and our go-to for business information. At times the revenue figures are different from the data presented by other sources. I believe the reason for this is that Hoovers at times breaks companies up into the main corporation and sub-brands, which may be different from figures pulled by others, such as Business Insider.

Finding a good list of the top textile companies in the US was challenging. This report on textile mills, for example, from industry leader IBIS, only notes that there is no one company with dominant market share. Other sources were extremely dated. The best source I was able to find for textile companies in the US is this list of key players, found by searching the industry in Hoovers. It is only a stub for a report behind a payday, and thus it does not describe in detail why they were selected, but as stated, I was not able to find a more detailed list, so I have provided the information for the companies identified:

~ Milliken and Company -- Listed by Hoovers at $3.4B, this company is headquartered in Spartanburg, SC. Their textiles run the gamut from floor coverings to protective fabrics and performance/work wear.

~ Standard Textile Co -- This company is listed in Hoovers at $987M with headquarters in Cincinnati, OH. The company manufactures textiles for a variety of industries, including workwear, hospitality and healthcare.

~ WL Gore & Associates -- Finally, this company, from Newark, DE, is listed at $2.9M. Gore focuses on products using flouropolymers, and is perhaps most well-known for Gore-Tex fabrics.

The Hoovers list also included Avintiv (part of Berry Plastics), but they focus on non-woven fabrics. In addition, this article on the state of the textile industry in the US might be of interest, as it contains many data points.

This article by Forbes on the "World's 20 Biggest Apparel Companies in 2016," identifies companies based on "a composite score of revenues, profits, assets and market value." Per their list, the top five US apparel companies are:

~ Nike -- Listed in this 2015 Business Insider article at $30.6 billion, with Hoovers putting the company at $32.4 billion, Nike is "the most successful and recognizable sports brand in the world." They are headquartered in Beaverton, OR.

~ TJX Companies -- This company, which includes the TJ Maxx brand stores, is listed in Hoovers at $33.2B. They are headquartered in Framingham, MA, and describe themselves as "the leading off-price retailer of apparel and home fashions in the US and worldwide."

~ Adidas -- Adidas is a tricky one, since they are originally a German company. Adidas AG, headquartered in Herzogenaurach, Germany, is listed by Hoovers at $18.5B. Adidas America, Inc., in Portland, OR, is listed at $814M. They are a worldwide sportswear giant.

~ VF -- This company, which includes the brands Vans, the North Face, and Timberland, is listed as five separate companies in Hoovers, with no one obviously being the main corporation. Adding the revenues together gives us approximately $6.4B. The largest individual listing is for VF Jeanswear Limited, out of Greensboro, NC, at $3.8B.

~ L Brands -- L Brands, out of Columbus, OH, is listed in Hoovers at $12.6B. Its most well-known brands are Victoria's Secret and Bath and Body Works.

Since we also have the Business Insider 2015 article, I also wanted to note the number two and three companies listed in that writing (behind Nike, again number one).

~ Ralph Lauren -- Listed by Business Insider as having revenue of $7.6B, though Hoovers puts the revenues for the main company, Ralph Lauren Corporation, at $6.7B. They are headquartered in New York City, and make luxury apparel for men and women. The RL Corporation includes several brands, including Polo Ralph Lauren, which is probably the most well-known.

~ Old Navy -- Business Insider puts them at $6.6B, with Hoovers listing the main corporation at $6.1B. Per Business Insider, "Old Navy is currently doing better than its parent brand, the Gap. It has lower prices and tends to stay on brand, targeting the right consumers with affordable styles." They are headquartered in San Francisco.

In conclusion, the value chain described above takes us through the process from raw inputs to sales of the final products. Finding the top textiles companies was a challenge, but I was able to identify Milliken and Company, Standard Textile Company, and WL Gore as key players. Per Forbes, the top apparel companies in the US are Nike, TJX, Adidas, VF and L Brands.

I hope that helps and thanks for using Wonder!