Straight, skinny but a bit stretchy and loose in dirty blue -- that is going to be the latest in denim fashion worldwide, said designer and denim trend analyst Amy Leverton.
So, Bangladeshi denim makers should focus on these design elements to grab greater market share in the West, added Leverton, speaking at the fourth Bangladesh Denim Expo that began yesterday at the International Convention City Bashundhara in Dhaka.
The current trends will not disappear, as the upcoming trend is very similar to the current one; it would just be straighter, slightly looser, she said.
The major change would come in the colours of the denim products, as customers like diversified products, said Leverton.
In the fashion business, trend analysis is vital as retailers and brands go for new designs and place work orders in bulk, based on the analysis, she added.
Changes in denim fashion are taking place for a decrease in cotton prices worldwide. Currently, denim has to compete with jeggings and athleisure in the western world.
Athleisures are clothes that fit a somewhat broad category of being appropriate for either athletic or leisure pursuits, or both.
The demand for this particular kind of clothes rose due to its stretch, soft, comfort and slim fit for men and women.
A few years ago, when cotton prices rose abnormally, fabric makers shifted their production base from cotton to viscose and other staples, to reduce the over dependence on cotton fibres.
As a result, demand for jeggings and athleisure also went up worldwide, said Leverton, who graduated in fashion design. “Now, in terms of volume, jeggings sales are more than denim sales. But with the decline in cotton prices, demand for denim is also picking up.”
On her career, Leverton said she mainly used to work as a designer a few years ago. “Now I work on trend forecasting in denim,” she said.
Bangladesh, a newcomer in the denim business, has a lot of mills. “Bangladeshi manufacturers should also have the knowledge on trends, as a lot of brands and retailers are making the trend, instead of just following it.”
Focusing on sustainability, she suggested Bangladesh use less water, recycle water and use safer and cleaner chemicals to take this sector forward.
“The less water we use, the better the products. Washing out garment items with safer chemicals is important for the denim business.”
Bangladesh is becoming more important to the retailers and brands in the US and the Europe, she said. “And as such, several new denim units have opened up here.”
“I first came to Bangladesh in November last year to attend the denim expo. I heard a lot of good about the country and so I came back in December to further study the market,” said Leverton, who also wrote the widely sold book 'Denim Dudes'.
People should stop judging countries with one or two incidents, said the analyst.
“I think manufacturers and retailers should regularly come here to change their mindset on Bangladesh.
“The more we communicate the better would be the products. If the products are made for Bangladesh it is Bangladesh's problem. If we make our products here in Bangladesh, it is our problem and also our responsibility,” she said. Bangladesh has become a lucrative destination for denim buyers because of competitive prices and high quality of products.
With an investment of $834 million in the sub-sector, Bangladesh has about 30 mills, which meet half the local demand at 60 million yards of fabric a month, according to Bangladesh Denim Expo.
Bangladeshi companies import more than 30 million yards of denim a month at a cost of $75 million from countries like China, India, Pakistan and Turkey, as demand is on the rise. Bangladesh exports denim fabric and garments worth nearly $2 billion a year to the $60-billion global market, said industry insiders.
Industry people are hopeful that exports will soon increase to $5 billion.
Currently, Bangladesh is the third largest denim exporter to the US, after Mexico and China, with an 11.3 percent market share, according to the US Department of Commerce.
Bangladesh exported $418.42 million worth of denim products to the US in 2014. Bangladesh has a 22.88 percent market share of denim in the EU.
Bangladeshi entrepreneurs supply denim to major retailers and brands, including H&M, Uniqlo, Levis, Nike, Tesco, Wrangler, s.Oliver, Hugo Boss, Walmart and Gap.
“The response from the manufacturers, retailers and brands is so high that the stalls for the next two expositions have already been sold out,” said Mostafiz Uddin, organiser of the show and managing director of Denim Expert Ltd.