Denim has been around for a couple of hundred years. And globally its appeal is ever increasing – as it is comfortable and does not get dirty easily. Denim is now the most popular ‘casual wardrobe’ worldwide. Fashion market analysts estimate that the denim industry market size will exceed $102 billion by 2025. Also, by 2031, it is estimated to reach 152 billion.
Renowned Belgian fashion designer – best known for her wrap dress – Diane von Furstenberg expressed her opinion about jeans, “The rule of fashion is that it is mysterious. Why are blue jeans classic? Because you suddenly find something that is right for you and that cannot be imprisoned by time limits.”
Denim has come a long way in the path of history and in today’s era – jeans is undoubtedly the number one choice for any stylish wardrobe staple. No other fabric has revolutionized the fashion world as much as denim.
In the 150 years, jeans have transformed a lot. Even in the late 19th century, jeans were mainly ‘waist overalls’ and were worn only by Western cowboys, miners and farmers in the United States. Being cheap and durable, it became the daily wear of working men.
Levi Strauss is the charismatic man behind the branding of denim jeans and making it remarkably popular. In 1853 he moved to San Francisco to open a dry goods store for ‘Gold Rush’ people. Imported cotton fabrics and denim were available in his shop then. This is how Strauss denim is made more durable and stronger by adding various metal pins or plates. Over the years, many changes and improvements came in denim jeans. For instance, belt loops came in 1922, and zippers took the place of buttons. Eventually, more brands like OshKosh B’gosh, Wrangler and Lee came into the limelight. Loose, ripped jeans gained worldwide popularity in the 1990s. At that time fashion houses like Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and Dior also entered the jeans market. Along the way, skinny jeans developed their own fan base in the new century.
Over the last few decades, there has been a trend towards uniform use of jeans even among different socio-economic classes and professions. Therefore, it is not possible to say which type of denim jeans for any class and occupation. Rather, jeans have now become an expression of the individual taste and style of any profession.
There are various types of denim jeans in the market these days. But despite this, it is still the most versatile and durable fabric. Its appeal is also eternal, ever imperishable.
Although, there is a difference between denim and jeans. Denim is a fabric while jeans is made from denim fabric. Denim fabric is made of 100% cotton twill or stitch twill. Fashion items like shirts, jeans, bags, jackets and many more are made with this fabric.
Top denim-making countries
China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Turkey are the top 5 denim-exporting countries.
Among the denim manufacturing countries, currently, China is the world’s top exporter of denim fabric. They export denim made of at least 85 percent cotton. The percentage of cotton in Chinese denim is very significant, as these yarns will stretch, but never shrink.
Bangladesh’s denim sector
Bangladesh has appeared as a commanding manufacturer of denim taking the lead in the USA and EU markets, cheers to new investment and branding to worldwide retailers and brands.
According to the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA) data, in the first eight months of this year (January-August), Bangladesh exported denim products worth $639 million to the United States. According to OTEXA, the current year’s growth has increased by 46.37 percent compared to the previous year.
In FY2021, Bangladesh exported $798.42 million worth of denim garments to USA. While, in FY2020, the country exported $561.29 million worth of denim garments to the US market, according to the OTEXA data.
Industry leaders opined that the news of Bangladesh becoming the number one denim exporter in the US market, outperforming Mexico and China, is very refreshing.
Bangladesh exported $689.69 million worth denim items to EU in the January–June period of 2022, registering a 37.26% year-on-year growth, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
In EU, Bangladesh has been the top denim exporter since 2017 – with one out of three European people wearing denim apparel produced in the country.
Specialties of Bangladesh’s denim
Bangladesh’s denim backward linkage industry is one of the finest in the world. Over the years, apparel entrepreneurs have invested around Tk160 billion in denim sector. The country has 40 denim fabric mills and 500 denim sewing factories. Around 50-60% of denim productions are met through local fabrics. Moreover, there are a lot of in-house design studios and these reasons play a vital role in denim export.
In the last decade, a number of state-of-the-art fabric mills were established in the country due to the positive growth of denim. Bangladesh is now able to deliver denim orders very fast, which is also a positive sign for buyers.
It is not possible to get denim from anywhere else at such attractive prices and in such a short period of time, if economic conditions improve, buyers will bring more orders to Bangladesh.
Due to the strong local backward linkage, the denim jeans of Bangladesh have reached the top level of the international market. The leaders in the denim sector said that denim jeans are able to maintain growth despite the economic situation.
According to garment industry owners, the production cost will also be reduced by about 30 percent with the use of new technology. Bangladeshi denim and garment manufacturers are planning to increase the quality as well as the value of the product by using advanced technology.
Even in some cases, Bangladesh will be the first user of these advanced technologies. With the help of new technology, it will be possible to wash products in a more environmentally friendly way, reducing the use of water and chemicals. In many cases, technology companies have chosen Bangladesh as a partner for their commercial activities.
Recently, Envoy Textiles Limited, the world’s first LEED Platinum-certified denim manufacturer, has signed an agreement with the Spanish company Jeanologia, which is the first to work on sustainable eco-friendly textile technology, to set up a state-of-the-art eco-lab.
This groundbreaking lab will help in the production of sustainable products at a low cost, Kutubuddin Ahmed, Chairman and Founder of Envoy Group said to media, “Customers are looking for more sustainable denim. Keeping their needs in mind, we will set up Eco-Lab. Although quite an expensive step, it will help in reducing the cost of production. At the same time, buyers will also be ready to pay higher prices for such products.”
Syed M Tanvir, Managing Director, Pacific Jeans Limited said to media, “We are going to use the latest technology in the denim industry as the largest denim producer. This is an opportunity to become a prototype for countries working with the world’s established denim technology.”
“Based on our feedback, commercial versions of these technologies have been introduced,” said Tanveer.
As a manufacturer of high-quality products, the Dutch fashion brand G-Star Raw collects about 1 million jeans worth 20 million dollars from Bangladesh every year, said Shafiur Rahman, Regional Operations Manager, G-Star Raw.
Genesis Denim has been working with G-Star Raw as the only Bangladeshi denim exporter for the past 10 years. Munir Ahmed, Managing Director, Genesis Denim shared the experience of producing high quality products. Telling about starting to use some innovative technologies to meet the needs of customers, he said, “We had a difficult start as the brand conditions were quite complicated in terms of product style, wash and chemical use.”
“Initially it took us seven days to make a pair of jeans. But now we understand the likes and dislikes of brands and fashion aesthetics. G-Star Raw pays up to $35 for a pair of denim pants, while low-quality denim exporters get an average of just $6.”