Japan is the Bangladesh’s most promising export destination in Asia and apparel exports to the country is rising gradually. Having a population of 127.1 million, US $ 36,194 per capita GDP, world 3rd largest economy Japan is the world’s third largest apparel importer and the fourth largest apparel market in the world after China, USA and Germany. Japan presents some of the most exciting fashion and apparel opportunities globally for the highly enthusiastic and sophisticated consumers. Fashion capital Tokyo is a key trendsetter and an excellent test market for further expansion in Asia. Although high-end European fashion is extremely popular in Japan, Japanese consumer buying habits differ significantly to those of consumers in Europe.
Apparel industry in Japan
Apparel market in Japan is expected to reach US $ 92.40 billion by 2021. Beginning of the 2018 clothing market amounted US $ 87.32 billion and expected annual growth of 1.9%. Main market share of women’s and girl’s apparel is calculated US $ 35.83 billion, which is showing the future business opportunity for big growth.
|Annual turnover of the clothing industry||US $ 96 billion|
|Domestic market value of the fashion industry||97 billion dollars|
|Employment in textiles and clothing manufacturing||431,000|
|Annual turnover of women’s wear||US $ 58 billion|
|Annual turnover of menswear||US $ 28 billion|
|Annual turnover of children wear||US $ 10 billion|
Source: Fashion United
Japan has a huge fashion market that offers great potential for Bangladeshi clothing suppliers. Contemporary women’s wear, especially products made from high quality fabrics, one-of-a-kind items and clothing with details have good potential in Japan. The number of SPA (Specialty store retailer of Private label Apparel) stores has been increasing.
|5 largest fashion companies in Japan|
|Company name||Market value
(in Billion US $)
(in Billion US $)
|Fast Retailing||31.5||16.4||Public Company|
|Shimamura group||5||5.2||Public Company|
|Asics Corporation||4.50||3.90||Public Company|
|United Arrows||1.40||1.17||Public Company|
|Onward Holdings||1.13||2.3||Public Company|
Source: Fashion United
Opportunity for Bangladesh apparel exporters
Garment shipments to Japan from Bangladesh began after the adoption of ‘China Plus One’ policy by the Japanese government in 2008. The policy was taken to reduce overdependence on China for goods like apparel, electronic gadgets and home appliances. The ‘China plus One’ policy was supplemented by the relaxation of the Rules of Origin by Japanese government for least-developed countries.
Bangladeshi garment manufacturers have been enjoying zero-duty benefit on apparel exports to Japan. Garment export to Japan grew 1.94 percent to $445.99 million in July-January in 2017-2018 Fiscal Year and it is expected to cross $1-billion mark at the end of the year. More than 40 items are exporting to Japan from Bangladesh including T-shirts, jersey pullovers, shirts, baby garments etc. Overall export was not satisfactory in fiscal year 2016-2017 but last 11 month (July 2017 to May 2018), exports are growing again around 8 percent.
Currently Bangladesh is exporting mostly basic items but there is a huge opportunity to export fancy, fashionable and high value added items. Bangladesh needs to diversify its product category to grab the opportunity of growing business with Japan as a nontraditional market.
According to the apparel experts, local entrepreneurs are already understood this and updating accordingly the manufacturing practices and product offering to the Japanese buyers.
The figure 3 has shown that the apparel market of Japan is raising significantly, which is a great opportunity for Bangladesh apparel exporters to expand their business in Japan.
Bangladeshi exporters have been benefiting by special incentives by the government as nontraditional market. Japanese buyers are very strict in terms of quality and production process. No other buyers are requiring 100% quality inspection of the goods where rest of the buyers is following AQL for quality auditing. This it is a golden opportunity for the manufacturer to improve factory quality standard and manufacturing process in compare to work with any other market and buyers.
On the other hand, Japanese buyers are very cooperative. If manufacturer faces any problem and can explain logically, they not only understand it but also try to support the factory to overcome the issue. They consider the supplier and business partner and believe in mutual growth and development. Their ethics is to build a win win business relationships with the supplier.
In fine, Japan is a very promising market for Bangladesh and the only destination in Asia where Bangladesh’s overall exports crossed the $1 billion market last two years. Bangladesh government and other organizations of apparel makers and exporters should come forward to fetch the non-traditional market that will ultimately help to attain the USD50-billion target by 2021.