Bangladesh Exporters Expand Capacity To Make Technical Garments

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Local garment manufacturers are pumping money to expand their capacity to produce technical garment items such as activewear and workwear since their demand is rising in the western markets. A few years ago, Bangladesh had one or two technical or functional clothing factories. The number has already crossed 25 as industry people are making significant investments in the segment to grab more of the global market share.

Currently, the size of the global technical textile market is US$ 179 billion and it is growing at nearly 5% a year to reach more than US$ 224 billion by 2025, as per a study by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and German development agency GIZ last year. BGMEA members are increasingly moving towards the technical textile and garment markets as the association plans to export US$ 100 billion worth of apparel items by 2030.

The trade body is drawing up a roadmap to hit the target from US$ 42.61 billion in the last fiscal year and expects that a major portion of the US$ 100 billion will come from the shipment of technical textile and garment items. Snowtex Group exports US$ 300 million worth of mainly activewear, workwear and other garment items a year. Of the sum, nearly 90% are technical clothing items, said SM Khaled, managing director of the company.

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The firm, which has been producing technical garments mainly for European and US customers for the last two decades, is planning further expansion to meet the growing demand internationally. As buyers move away from China, orders for performance wear is coming to Bangladesh and other countries.

Russia was a major market for Bangladesh’s technical wear but the outbreak of the war in February has slowed the export growth a bit since shipments can’t be sent directly to the country. Garments are exported to the country through third parties. Although China is losing its market share in the finished technical clothing items segment, it is still the biggest player when it comes to raw materials, fabrics and accessories needed to produce the products, Khaled said.

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Local weavers can meet only 5% of the fabric demand. And fabrics are mainly imported from China, Korea and Vietnam. In the case of accessories, domestic millers can supply 50% of the items, Khaled said.

Narayanganj-based Fakir Apparels started the production of technical garments such as workwear, hunting and maintenance wear four years ago since they fetch higher prices compared to regular garment items. For instance, if a piece of normal garment is sold at $7, the price of technical garment items is $15 per piece, Bakhtiar Uddin Ahmed, chief operating officer of the company, informed. It has a target to expand the production lines to 50 by 2025 from 16 now.

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“We are exporting more than US$ 1 million worth of technical garments a month. But the export value will double within two or three years,” Bakhtiar said. Kamrul Hassan Kibria, a senior executive for merchandising at Bitopi, a jacket exporter, said his company ships 3.50 lakh pieces of insulated jackets a month and is planning an expansion as a lot of orders are relocating to Bangladesh. 

(Daily Star, Bangladesh)

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