Bangladesh’s denim is ruling the global market. The country has big shares in the denim market of Europe, US and United Kingdom. In an industry that is worth US $ 60 billion worldwide, Bangladesh might just be at the cusp of a leap – one that might have the potential to change country’s denim industry forever.
Bangladesh’s researchers have managed to find a way to blend jute fibre with cotton to produce a variety of textiles, including the much sought-after denim. And using such textiles, Bangladesh hopes to produce denim fabric and products which will be exported worldwide.
According to statistics obtained from Eurostat and other sources, Bangladesh is currently the top denim exporter to Europe – the country’s biggest region-wise export destination – with a market share of 27 per cent. It is the third biggest denim exporter to the US with over 14 per cent market share. Also, UK, where the average consumer dons 14 denim products, is another top destination of Bangladesh’s Denim.
In 2017, Bangladesh exported US $ 1.3 billion worth of denim products to the European Union. In the US, the figure stood at US over US $ 507 million. A study by Cotton Inc. says, 71 per cent of Europeans and Latin Americans enjoy wearing denim. In the US, 70 per cent of the population, 58 per cent in China, and 57 per cent in Japan enjoy wearing Denim.
Currently, there are 31 denim fabric manufacturing mills in Bangladesh which can produce over 400 million metres of fabric – enough to supply about 40 per cent of the total demand. The remainder is imported. Even two years ago, Bangladesh was highly dependent on the import to produce denim fabrics, a material that is essentially a sophisticated knitted produce of cotton.
The Jute and Textile Product Development Centre (JTPDC), a project under Bangladesh’s Ministry of Jute and Textiles, has been working on blending jute – a product that grows in abundance in Bangladesh – with cotton to make blended fabric. They have successfully produced several varieties of blended yarn with different proportions of jute.
According to what could be known about the process, jute fibres are cut in 4 cm pieces and are treated with a variety of chemicals and softened to near-cotton quality. Then, they are blended together in a process what is called ‘cotton processing system’ to produce the fabric eligible for producing home textiles, denim, shopping bags, and garment products.
Dr. Md Abul Kalam Azad, Director of JTPDC, who is spearheading the jute-blend denim product tells Apparel Resources that the yarn made for denim is 50 per cent jute and 50 per cent cotton. “We have made sample Denim trousers and tested it out – it is very durable after multiple washes. What we just need is now commercial facilities.” He underlines that there is a big potential in jute-blend Denim products.
Dr. Md Manzurul Alam, Director General for Bangladesh Jute Research Institute, told Apparel Resources that the institute has been working with the jute-blend cotton for over a year now. “Since jute is cheaper than cotton and it is produced in Bangladesh in plenty, the jute-blend fabric is cheaper than cotton yarn. At the same time, the jute-blend will reduce the dependency on cotton,” he said.
In line with the milestone research, Bangladesh Government has approved the construction of specialised jute textile mill in Jamalpur which will focus on producing jute-blend denim. The ‘Sheikh Hasina Specialised Jute Textile Mill’ was given a go-ahead at the meeting of Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) on July 3. The project, being implemented at the cost of over BDT 518.8 crore is expected to be undertaken by the Bangladesh Jute Mill Corporation and completed by June 2020.
Expectations are in place that once completed, the specialised mill will produce over 432,000 pieces of denim trousers for export and supply 21.34 million metres of denim and other jute blend fabrics for the domestic industry.
There is scepticism about the reality of the project – it being government-funded and all that. But, there is no doubt that if it can be implemented, it will be a boon for the country.
Abdus Salam Murshedy, Managing Director of Envoy Group which has Denim-producing textiles and apparel units, tells Apparel Resources, “It is a great initiative by all means. Bangladesh has big potential in manufacturing and exporting denim. The jute-blend denim, if the government can produce it, will be a big leap in our Denim industry.”
According to him, consumers in the west are always on the lookout for new fashion and fabric trends. “They are always looking for new fashion. They are particularly interested in eco-friendly apparel items. This jute-blend denim can be a very lucrative product to them. It has the potential to be the next line of eco-friendly denim product.”
Worldwide, the denim business is expected to flourish at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.5 per cent in the next two years. Asia Pacific Countries are likely to harbour the fastest growth for denim market. Premium denim jeans is expected to have a CAGR of 12.23 per cent by 2020 in this region, according to Technavio data.