Denim: the next big export out of Bangladesh
The wide consumption of denim by fashion connoisseurs globally has created a new opportunity for Bangladesh, the second largest exporter of the item after China.
With changes in fashion and style, denim is used to make clothes for all seasons for both men and women. Demand for denim wear is also on the rise worldwide.
“Denim is used by all segments of people, as such fabric is comfortable and looks smart,” said Mahmuda Begum, head of the fashion design department of BGMEA University of Fashion and Technology.
“In the perspective of fashion, the fabric is versatile and can be used all the year round to create looks that are modern, formal or casual,” she said.
These are the reasons why demand for the fabric is high worldwide and investors are forming large-scale plants in the country, entrepreneurs said.
The number of denim makers may go over 30 from 25 at present by the year-end, said Showkat Aziz Russell, managing director of the country's largest denim maker Partex Denim.
“I am confident that Bangladesh would make four in five denim items for the European market by 2020.”
Currently, Bangladesh produces 20 million yards of denim a month, against monthly demand for 40 million yards; total investment in the denim sub-sector is Tk 6,500 crore, he said.
“With the new opportunity, we have plenty of work orders from the international retailers, more than our capacity even,” said Binoy Kumar Pal, general manager of Chittagong Denim, a Gazipur-based denim maker that produces nine lakh yards of the fabric a month.
However, the flow of work orders in some factories has slowed due to political unrest in the country in the last six months, he added.
“We have to struggle to keep up with the high volume of orders as international buyers are shifting orders from other countries like China to Bangladesh for price competitiveness,” Pal said.
Some entrepreneurs cannot set up new denim mills or expand their existing capacities due to the high bank interest rates and inadequate gas and power supplies, although the sub-sector has potential, said Alaluddin Khan, general manager of Akbar Cotton.
“We abandoned plans to launch a Tk 100 crore denim project a few years back due to the high bank interest rate, volatile cotton market and gas crisis,” Khan told The Daily Star by phone.
“Denim will be the next item to brand Bangladesh as we are capable of producing a high quality product at competitive prices,” said Abdus Salam Murshedy, managing director of Envoy Denim.
“Supplying quality denim products worldwide can act as recovery after retailers lost their confidence on the country after the Tazreen Fashion fire and Rana Plaza building collapse,” Murshedy added.
“With such potential, we are going to organise the country's first denim exhibition in March at Radisson Hotel, Dhaka,” said Mostafiz Uddin, managing director of Denim Expert Ltd, a factory at Karnaphuli Export Processing Zone in Chittagong.