Bangladesh has overtaken China to become the largest denim supplier to the European Union, on the other hand it has become the third largest denim supplier after China and Mexico to the US. Bangladesh exported €567.97 million worth of denim products to the 28-nation bloc -- enough to secure a 21.18 percent market share, the highest during the period January- June 2016.
The headway has been possible because of the millions of dollars that the local denim fabrics makers invested to set up state-of-the-art facilities in their plants. A development that would give confidence to the country's garment sector as it looks to hit $50 billon in exports by 2021.
Currently, Bangladesh has 30 denim mills for which investment to the tune of $1 billion was made, said Mostafiz Uddin, managing director of Denim Expert Ltd, a leading denim exporter. The collective production capacity of the mills is 435 million yards a year.
Bangladesh could win in the European denim segment not only for the competitive prices, but also for the quality of its products, shorter lead time and better commitment, said another majore denim maker, MS Hasan, director of operations of Amber Denim.
Amber Denim invested heavily to acquire a modern denim laboratory for testing and certification, which helped in reducing the lead time. In terms of denim sales, the US and the UK are two major markets of Bangladesh.
Almost 70 percent of the population in the US wear denim products regularly, according to industry insiders. An average consumer owns seven denim products at any given time.
Over in the UK, one of the largest clothing markets in Europe, each consumer owns an average of 17 denim garments.
Bangladeshi entrepreneurs supply denim products to major global retailers including Levi's, Diesel, G-Star RAW, H&M, Uniqlo, Tesco, Wrangler, s.Oliver, Hugo Boss, Walmart, and Gap.
The denim sub-sector could play a significant role in achieving the $50 billion export target by the end of 2021, said Mostafiz Uddin, who organises denim expositions twice a year in Bangladesh.
According to Bangladesh Denim Expo, the organiser of the exposition, annually 2.1 billion pieces of denim are sold globally.
Mostafiz citing data from the Cotton Inc USA said that the global denim market is estimated to grow by about 8 percent reaching $64.1 billion a year until 2020 of which Bangladesh denim export is predicted to touch $7 billion by the end of 2021.