Luxury fashion brands are turning to Bangladesh as a reliable supplier and are increasingly sourcing from the country even amidst global supply chain disruption induced by the Covid pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war.
High-end brands such as Hugo Boss AG are seeking out business opportunities, with their top officials visiting Bangladesh to explore its potential, a development that indicates the world’s attention is gradually shifting towards the South Asian nation.
Atique Monir, COO of Fakir Fashion Ltd, one of the country’s leading knitwear factories based in Narayanganj, said, “A four-member team of Hugo Boss, including its senior vice president (buying), has visited our factory to find out business opportunities with us.”
“Many things matched the brand requirements, and their special requirement was traceability,” he told The Business Standard, expressing optimism that the Germany-based luxury fashion brand will start doing business with his company in the coming days.
Faruque Hassan, president of the Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), told TBS that a number of international luxury fashion brands are shifting their orders to Bangladesh from China and Vietnam.
“Bangladeshi suppliers gained the confidence of global buyers amid a supply chain disruption caused by the Russia-Ukraine war and the pandemic as we are receiving some high-value orders,” he added.
US fashion brands are transferring their orders to Bangladesh from China due to geopolitical issues, as they find Bangladesh a reliable supplier, said the BGMEA president.
He also said that Bangladeshi factories previously could not avail orders of jackets priced above $25 a piece, but now they are producing jackets, the Free On Board (FOB) price of each of which is $100. The FOB price of exports and imports of goods is the value of the goods at the exporter’s customs frontier.
DBL Group Vice-Chairman MA Rahim echoed Faruque Hassan and said that a number of American retailers of high-value clothing have been doing business with their companies for the last few months, transferring their orders from China.
He also mentioned that they are producing apparel for some luxury brands such as Ralph Lauren and Hugo Boss, which have shifted their sourcing from China.
Prices of these products are five-six times higher than that of conventional ones as their raw materials are also pricier, noted MA Rahim, adding that the price per unit of these apparel items will be $200-$250 at the retail level, he said.
DBL Group is also doing business with some premium brands such as G-Star Raw, Puma, Timberland, etc., he said.
Like DBL, Square Group is also doing business with Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss, and Puma, according to company sources.
Viyellatex Group is also one of the suppliers of Hugo Boss.
Meanwhile, Bitopi Group is producing formal pants and denim pants for Ralph Lauren. A top official of the company told TBS on condition of anonymity that the group is also in talks with Hugo Boss to start doing business with them.
Textile mills producing high-value fabrics
A number of Bangladeshi textile mills are now producing high-value fabrics for some luxury brands aiming to reduce import dependency and lead time.
Envoy Textile Limited, the world’s first LEED platinum-certified mills, is one of them. Its founder Engineer Kutubuddin Ahmed said, “Currently, we are developing denim fabrics for Ralph Lauren’s suppliers in three Bangladeshi garments factories.
“Producing fabrics for Ralph Lauren means the mills have business with some brands, those adhere to a certain standard,” he added.
ShaSha Denim Managing Director Shams Mahmud said his factory also supplies fabrics to Ralph Lauren-nominated garments, which were imported from Turkey previously.
Zaber & Zubair Fabrics Fashion supplied some woven fabrics for Ralph Lauren-nominated factories, said its Deputy Manager (Business Development) Md Mosla Uddin Tipu.
American fashion company Ralph Lauren Corporation is one of the world’s largest fashion brands, which had stopped sourcing garment items from Bangladesh after the infamous Rana Plaza building incident in 2013. The fashion brand resumed sourcing from Bangladesh by reopening its Dhaka office in November 2019.
Ralph Lauren is well known for four categories – apparel, home, accessories, and fragrances – and its products range from the mid-range to the luxury segments.
Premium brands sourcing from Bangladesh
Dutch fashion brand G-Star RAW is scheduled to source about two lakh pieces of outerwear worth around $1 million from Bangladeshi manufacturer Snowtex Outerwear Ltd, said G-Star Regional Operations Manager Shafiur Rahman.
“It will be their [Snowtex] third season with us. This journey started with an order of about 1.33 lakh pieces. ” he said, adding, “We can proudly say that Snowtex is getting rightful returns for its efforts.
“We find that they have the capabilities to produce our products as per our requirements. And, after doing business with us for two seasons, this year they have surprisingly developed large parts of our seals’ samples within 35 days which used to take 55 days.”
The retailer also imports 1 million pieces of jeans, which are worth about $20 million, from Bangladesh in a year.
Genesis Denim is the only Bangladeshi denim exporter working with the Dutch fashion brand for the last 10 years.
Its Managing Director Munir Ahmed shared their experience of producing high-value goods with The Business Standard.
“Our beginning was very tough, as the brand requirements were very complicated in terms of styles, wash, chemical usages,” he said, adding that they adopted some sophisticated technologies to meet the buyer’s demand.
“We used to take about seven days to make a pair of pants in the very beginning. Now we know the brand’s taste and fashion aesthetics.”
Munir Ahmed said G-Star RAW pays them up to $35 for a pair of denim pants, while low-value denim exporters get $6 for that on average.
Sportswear brand Puma is considered as a premium brand for its quality, durability, and style. The brand’s products are generally priced higher than that of mass-market sportswear, but they are not as expensive as luxury brands.
Urmi Group is the one of largest suppliers of Puma.
Its Managing Director Asif Ashraf said they have had business with Puma for the last 10 years and its annual business has reached over $30 million.
Their products include seamless activewear, T-shirts, Polo shirts, and seamless activewear.