Bangladesh RMG Sector: Challenges and Opportunities for Product Diversification

Diversifying the product range of the Bangladeshi garment industry will require a collective effort from individuals, businesses and policymakers- Rehnuma Chowdhury, Managing Director, Fifth Alliance Global Trading Ltd.

Products ranges of Bangladesh RMG sector: The garment industry is one of the largest and most important sectors of the Bangladeshi economy, accounting for approximately 84% of the country’s total export earnings. Bangladesh is the second-largest apparel exporter in the world after China, with the garment industry employing around 4 million workers, mostly women.

Bangladesh produces a wide range of garment products, including T-shirts, pants, shirts, jackets, sweaters, and more. The country is known for its high-quality cotton and textile production, which enables it to produce a range of quality garments that are popular in global markets.

The most common types of fabric used in Bangladeshi garment production include cotton, polyester, and blended fabrics. Cotton is the most commonly used fabric and is preferred by most garment manufacturers due to its softness, breathability, and durability. Polyester is also popular, as it is wrinkle-resistant, easy to care for, and affordable.

The Bangladeshi garment industry is known for its competitive pricing, which makes its products affordable for consumers in both developed and developing countries.

Despite these, the industry couldn’t label it up as a High-End garment producer due to its lack of diversification.So the product range the manufacturers selects are limited to easy and mid-fashion products like t-shirts, pants and shirts and mostly supply to fast fashion budget retailers rather than High-end fashion brands.

Why is our product basket so limited: While Bangladesh does produce a wide range of garment products, it is true that its product range is somewhat limited compared to some other countries. There are a few factors that contribute to this.

Firstly, Bangladesh has traditionally focused on producing basic, low-cost garments such as t-shirts, jeans, and basic knitwear. This is partly due to the fact that the country has a large and relatively low-skilled workforce, which is better suited to producing simpler garments. Additionally, these basic garments are in high demand globally and are produced in large volumes, which enables Bangladeshi manufacturers to achieve economies of scale and keep prices low.

Secondly, the Bangladeshi garment industry has historically been reliant on imported raw materials, particularly fabrics. While the country has a thriving textile industry, it is still developing, and many of the more specialized fabrics needed to produce high-end garments are not yet produced domestically. This can limit the range of garments that Bangladeshi manufacturers are able to produce.

Finally, the global fashion industry is highly competitive, and manufacturers in countries such as China, Vietnam, and India have traditionally been more focused on producing higher-end, more specialized garments. As a result, Bangladesh has faced some competition in this area and has struggled to establish itself as a major player in the production of more specialized garments.

Overall, while Bangladesh does produce a wide range of garments, its product range is somewhat limited compared to some other countries. This is partly due to the country’s focus on producing basic, low-cost garments, its reliance on imported raw materials, and competition from other garment-producing countries.

Recent challenges & policy support need for product diversification

Diversifying the product range of the Bangladeshi garment industry would require addressing several challenges and implementing policy measures to support this transition.

One major challenge is the need to upgrade the country’s textile industry to enable the production of more specialized fabrics. This would require significant investment in new machinery, technologies, and infrastructure, as well as training programs to develop the necessary skills among the workforce. The government could support this process by providing incentives and tax breaks for businesses investing in textile production and by establishing partnerships with international textile firms to transfer knowledge and technology.

Another challenge is the need to develop a more skilled workforce capable of producing higher-end garments. This would require significant investment in training programs, both in technical skills and design, to ensure that Bangladeshi manufacturers can meet the demands of global fashion brands. The government could support this by partnering with international fashion schools and providing funding for training programs and apprenticeships.

In addition, there is a need to improve the country’s supply chain infrastructure, particularly in terms of logistics and transportation. This would require investment in new ports, airports, and highways to improve the efficiency and speed of cargo transport. The government could support this by providing funding for infrastructure projects and partnering with international logistics firms to transfer knowledge and expertise.

Planning regarding product diversification onFifth Alliance Global Trading Ltd

As an individual, there are several actions I have embraced to make an impact and contribute to diversifying the product range of the Bangladeshi garment industry.

I Support sustainable and ethical fashion brands that prioritize diversification and innovation. By buying from these brands, Also I promote more specialized and unique garments that will encourage Bangladeshi manufacturers to diversify their product range.
Often I try to pass awareness to my clients about the challenges and opportunities facing the Bangladeshi garment industry. By staying informed and raising awareness about the need for diversification and innovation, you can help create a supportive environment for change.

We also need to advocate for policy measures that support diversification and innovation in the garment industry. This could involve contacting your elected officials, signing petitions, or joining advocacy groups that are working to promote sustainable and ethical fashion policies.
Need to arrange training and education programs that help develop the necessary skills and expertise for diversification. This could involve volunteering or donating to organizations that provide training programs for Bangladeshi workers, such as fashion schools or vocational training centers.
We need to engage with fashion entrepreneurs to promote collaboration and knowledge-sharing. By building relationships with local businesses and entrepreneurs, we can help create a supportive network for innovation and diversification.
Overall, making an impact to diversify the product range of the Bangladeshi garment industry will require a collective effort from individuals, businesses, and policymakers. By taking action to support sustainable and ethical fashion practices, advocate for policy change, and engage with local stakeholders, we can contribute to a more diverse and innovative industry that benefits both workers and consumers.

Author: Rehnuma Chowdhury is a visionary entrepreneur and a leading example among Bangladeshi women entrepreneurs. She has worked with many international brands