Columbia Sportswear has spent years designing ski jackets and hiking boots to withstand the elements: wind, rain, snow and, increasingly, tariffs.
In a conference room filled with samples, Jeffrey W. Tooze, Columbia’s vice president for global customs and trade, showed how a small change in design can mean big money for a given product.
The addition of a super-thin sheath of fabric to the sole of a boot or shoe can help circumvent an existing 37.5 percent tariff on rubber soles imported into America. A fabric sole, by contrast, is taxed at 12.5 percent. (Customers find that the fabric wears off within days, revealing the rubber sole beneath.)
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