Money Matters: Bridal gowns could suffer in trade war

President Donald Trump's tariffs could have a new, unintended victim in the ongoing trade war with China. U.S. wedding gown designers are speaking out as the latest 25% tariff on 200 billion Chinese imports threaten to drive the industry out of business.

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

Fortune magazine reports designers nationwide are decrying the President's newest 25% levy. It is set to include silk fabrics, trims, and many other materials crucial to make wedding dresses. The sudden tariff threatens to raise costs too quickly and high for consumers to keep up with, in time to maintain the industry afloat. 

“It will wipe us out completely. My industry could be out of business in a year. I will lose my home and all my assets,” Lang said. He and several other business leaders testified their concerns at a hearing on Wednesday, before the U.S. Trade Representative. 

The trade war with China has highlighted just how critically U.S. industries rely on Chinese goods and materials, as other businesses like jewelry, electronics, lighting, and footwear are also crying out against the tariffs. Some of the affected industries announced plans to use other materials in the future due to the uncertain crisis, but some are worried about their current orders.

President Trump's newest tariffs are adding a compounded effect onto the past levies, which have already skyrocketed business costs to record levels. But for the wedding gown industry, these additional tariffs are particularly devastating since brides tend to pay several months in advance. That means designers are now locked into creating gowns at that past lower price, forcing them to absorb all the added costs.

Many designers are also worried over counterfeits since many Chinese factories tend to copy designs and sell them for much cheaper online. The impossibly high prices rising could eventually lead consumers to look for pirated gowns, affecting the already struggling industry.

The White House assures U.S. businesses will benefit from the tariffs due to higher prices.