Team textile focus recently talked with young industry pioneer Mirza Shams Mahmud Shakti, CEO, SM Sourcing. Mr shams shared variety of aspects of our industry and gave a constructive opinion about industry growth.
Textile Focus: How do you see the Textile Industry of Bangladesh for 2021?
Mirza Shams Mahmud Shakti: In 2021, the COVID pandemic will accelerate industry trends, with shopping shifting to digital channels and consumers continuing to champion fairness and social justice. That means focusing on an Omnichannel perspective, of course, but also emphasizing the importance of sustainability through the value chain. Consumers (and increasingly, investors) will reward companies that treat their workers and the environment with respect, and the deeper relationships that emerge will bring benefits in agility and accountability.
There is little doubt that 2021 will continue to be tough for many as the COVID-19 pandemic tracks an uncertain trajectory. Our task, therefore, is to find silver linings, knowing that times of change are inherently rich with opportunity. Garment companies that double down on strategy, align with key trends and reflect an evolving consumer landscape are likely to emerge from the crisis stronger, leaner, and ready to thrive in the next normal.
Textile Focus: What was your observation in 2020 during Covid-19?
Mirza Shams Mahmud Shakti: As Bangladesh and the entire world face an unprecedented health and economic crisis, the textiles and garment supply-chain are particularly hard hit. On the one hand, two major production hubs (Bangladesh and China) have been severely affected by the virus, causing significant disruption on the supply side. On the other, a collapse of demand has, in turn, led to brands and retailers breaking contracts, canceling orders, delaying shipments and asking for discounts from suppliers. While the scale and the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis may not have been foreseen, it does further bring to light the fragility and the power imbalances of the textile and garment value chain. Once the COVID-19 crisis has been overcome and these supply chains need to be rebuilt, we must ensure that these become more resilient and equitable.
Textile Focus: How can we promote our industry in the upcoming days?
Mirza Shams Mahmud Shakti: In my opinion, the way forward requires maintaining our focus on Sustainable manufacturing practices and Circular Economy as a priority and try to bring a comprehensive change in Textile & Garment value chains. This change will not only lead us towards a fairer and more sustainable textile sector but also a more resilient one, which is better equipped to overcome challenges in the future. The comprehensive approach, combining both, legislative, regulatory and other non-legislative action will mitigate the risk of abuses of power by some actors in the value chain. Building strong and resilient partnerships with the manufacturers and raw material producers, both within and outside Bangladesh, needs to be part of Bangladesh’s global response. Responding to the current crisis and building renewed and sustainable Textile & Garment value chains will require Bangladesh to continue its engagement in meaningful policy dialogue with all stakeholders and international cooperation.
Textile Focus: Any message from you for the industry?
Mirza Shams Mahmud Shakti: Transparency has the power to transform the fashion industry – from the factory floor to the retail shop. While transparency is becoming a popular theme in industry discussions, there remains considerable apprehension around it. The outbreak of COVID-19 has affected the industry gravely and it is imperative to guard the progress that has been made around transparency to protect worker rights and ensure safe working conditions. I hope that the evidence on the transformative powers of transparency will establish it more firmly in the sector around the world. While the goal may seem lofty, there is promising evidence that Bangladesh can play a leadership role if the various interest groups consolidate their efforts to maximize their impact and help create a culture of sharing and using publicly disclosed data. And from here, it is but a small step to think about reimagining the entire apparel industry globally – into a more just and equitable sector for all stakeholders.