Hundreds of retailers, fashion designers, denim fabric makers will convene in Bangladesh to participate in the third edition of the Denim Expo, due to be held at Bashundhara International Convention City in Dhaka on November 11-12. A total of 41 companies will showcase their products at the exposition, up from the previous edition's 25, according to Mostafiz Uddin, the founder of the Denim Expo.
Of the participants, 27 are from abroad, from countries such as China, India, Pakistan, the US, Turkey, Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, Japan and Germany. The response from international retailers has been so amazing that they are facing difficulties in getting hotel rooms for them during the denim fair next month, said Mostafiz Uddin, managing director of Chittagong-based Denim Expert Ltd.
He said that even five to six years ago, the retailers did not know of Bangladesh's potential in denim. Bangladesh has become a major sourcing hub for trendy denim products for international retailers for its competitive pricing.
One of the reasons for Bangladesh's rising popularity as a source for denim products is that China, the world's largest denim supplier, has became dearer for its higher costs of production, he said.
Bangladesh exports nearly $2 billion worth of denim products and fabrics a year, with the figure touted to hit the $5 billion-mark soon given the positive response from retailers, industry insiders said.
Apart from the international markets, the domestic market for the denim products is also growing fast with the changes in fashion, said Showkat Aziz Russell, managing director of Amber Denim, a leading denim producer who has been in the denim business for many years.
Usually, when people think of denim, they think of trousers and shirts, but now a lot of other items like bed sheets, pillow covers, home textiles, apron and table cloths are also made from denim fabrics. The growing middle-class consumers are the main customers of denim products in Bangladesh, Russell said.
According to Russell, given the higher demand, the mill owners have also increased the production capacity of denim, either through expanding their existing capacity or by establishing new mills, A total of 30 mills produce 21 million yards of denim fabrics a month.
The investment in the denim sector also increased for the higher demand: it will cross the Tk 7,500 crore-mark soon. Bangladesh's 20 percent denim exports go to the US and 80 percent to the European markets.
Bangladesh exported denim products worth more than $529.53 million to Europe between January and June, up 23 percent year-on-year, according to data from the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
Bangladeshi entrepreneurs supply denim products to retailers such as H&M, Uniqlo, Levi's, Nike, Tesco, Wrangler, s.Oliver, Hugo Boss, Puma, Primark and JC Penney. Recently, denim makers have also started shipping to some new destinations: China, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan and Russia.
According to the US Department of Commerce, currently, Bangladesh is the third largest denim exporter to the US, after Mexico and China, with an 11.3 percent market share.
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