Let’s give a new meaning to “Made in Bangladesh”
âMade in Bangladeshâ is a brand that now resonates around the world, thanks to the size and global reach of our RMG industry. But what does this mean for end consumers? How does that resonate with the people who wear the clothes that garment workers work hard to produce in our factories?
Having been fortunate enough to travel extensively over the past two decades, I can say that our country’s branding can deliver mixed messages. For many Western consumers, it is associated with cheap clothing and a business model that sees Europe, the United States and other Western countries outsource low-cost industries to countries in the South. “Made in Bangladesh” has also developed unsavory connotations since the collapse of Rana Plaza. The image of textile workers crammed into dangerous factories – which is no longer true for Bangladesh and needs to be asserted – is one that has been hard to erase from a marketing and public relations perspective.
âMade in Bangladeshâ, then, offers mixed messages across the world. It doesn’t have the status of, say, “Made in Germany” or even “Made in England”, but it is a brand on the world stage, for better or for worse.
How can we improve it, then? Informing people of the provenance and authenticity of the products they buy is becoming an increasingly powerful marketing tool in a crowded global marketplace. With so many products vying for audience and market share, and so much noise on social media, gaining traction and creating a memorable impression with its audience is a huge challenge.
I believe there are opportunities for Bangladesh RMG industry here. Consumers are increasingly interested in where and how products are made, and it is up to us, as the world’s second largest producer of clothing, to respond to this new market dynamic.
Technology can play a key role here. In textiles and fashion, we are increasingly seeing the technology used to track and trace textile fibers and clothing from one part of the world to another, with blockchain also being used along the way. These typically see a unique “tag” applied to textile fibers so that it then becomes possible to identify them throughout supply chains. Such technological solutions are increasingly requested by our buyers in order to meet the requirements of supply chain transparency. This type of technology is definitely the next big innovation in our industry, and it’s important that we as suppliers understand it and realize how it can be used.
Take a recent example in another country: a traceable textile specialist has just announced a partnership with an industrial park developer in Africa to supply fully traceable cotton from Benin. This new pilot program will allow traceability from spinning to garment on products, offering enormous potential to grow and develop the cotton sector in Africa.
How do we make this kind of technology work in Bangladesh is something that I think our business and business leaders need to look into now. I know that just recently the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) made announcements to put more emphasis on recycled products. As I wrote earlier, fashion is already asking supply chains how they can help increase recycled products in their collections, and a number of buyers are working with Bangladesh in this area. Suppliers in Bangladesh need to think about how they can relate to textile recyclers.
But maybe we can combine the two? One of the challenges for garments containing recycled materials is that it is not always possible to be 100% sure if the materials of the garment are as claimed. It could be recycled content, but there have been stories on the news lately that virgin fibers are being used instead. This is an area where traceability solutions could emerge, and there is no reason Bangladesh should not help lead the way. Could Bangladeshi clothing manufacturers team up with recycling partners and traceable technology companies to provide fully traceable clothing, where it is possible to deliver, via barcode on the final product, the precise content? clothes ? This is the futuristic direction our industry is heading.
Bringing this kind of added value to the final clothing products gives a whole new meaning to the term âMade in Bangladeshâ. It’s a great way to help us on our rebranding journey, moving from one country that just produces basic clothing to one that creates clothing made from recycled fibers that is fully traceable and can demonstrate the type of genuine sustainability values ââthat brands and their end consumers are looking for these days.
Right now there are all kinds of recycling projects around the world looking for business partners. Likewise, in the field of traceable fibers, there is a small but growing group of companies offering end-to-end traceability solutions. Our suppliers and, on a broader and more strategic level, our industry leaders and even government authorities need to link with these companies to see where synergies can be developed. Our buyers need to be part of these conversations as well.
Our industry is changing and at a faster rate than one might imagine. If we don’t embrace these new technologies, we’ll be left behind. So let’s support them and use them to our advantage, as a way to add value to what we do and to refresh the “Made in Bangladesh” brand, giving it extra dimension and meaning in our market. increasingly interconnected world.
Mostafiz Uddin is the Managing Director of Denim Expert Limited, and the Founder and CEO of Bangladesh Apparel Exchange (BAE) and Bangladesh Denim Expo.