G-Star Raw has a goal to use 100% sustainable materials by 2020. That is why G-Star Raw does lots of R&D to innovate sustainable production process, products to use 100% sustainable materials.
Shafiur Rahman, Regional Operations Manager, G-Star Raw
With the philosophy- ‘Just the Product’- G-Star Raw started their glorious journey from 1989. They are continuously doing innovation and product development to challenge the ordinary denim designs and producing high-end denim products both for male and female. G-Star Raw started the business here in Bangladesh since 2005. Recently a Textile Today team has met Shafiur Rahman, Regional Operations Manager of G-Star Raw and discussed their business position in Bangladesh, possibilities and many other burning issues of the industry. Here is some of the conversation revealed for the Textile Today readers.
Textile Today: G-Star Raw is one of the renowned denim producing brands in the world. Please share us the story of when G-Star Raw started the business in Bangladesh and what kind of products G-Star Raw is sourcing from Bangladesh?
Shafiur Rahman: G-Star Raw is a private own company founded in 1989 in the Netherlands. In Bangladesh, G-Star Raw came in 2005 and started its business. From the very beginning, we are directly sourcing from vendors. We struggled much and it was not that easy to work directly with the factories because we were not familiar here to the local factories. But from the end of 2005, we started our journey in Bangladesh with a renowned group of companies namely Viyellatex Group.
We believe in innovation and quality more than volume. Our first order was the t-shirt of 12 different styles and gradually we started to source polo shirt, sweater, shirt etc. From 2008, we started denim sourcing from Bangladesh though it was not easy for us because we had to maintain some standards.
Now our business size in Bangladesh is around 50 million dollars annually.
Textile Today: As a prominent brand, how are G-Star Raw maintaining sustainability in Bangladesh textile sector?
Shafiur Rahman: We are always aware of sustainability that is why we do lots of R&D to innovate sustainable production process, products and we are trying to use 100% sustainable materials. G-Star Raw has a goal to use 100% sustainable materials by 2020, but still, it is a big challenge for us and we are working on it.
When it is denim, G-Star Raw is the most sustainable denim innovator in the world and it is around 98% sustainable. We use all sustainable dyes and chemicals and recently we are trying to use organic cotton sewing thread.
The fair wage is another big part of sustainability. We provide training to our vendors and responsible parties. By sharing knowledge, sustainability could be spread among the peoples and we believe that.
Textile Today: Bangladeshi manufacturers are more focused on production, do you think that branding is needed in manufacturers end? If yes, what should be the strategy?
Shafiur Rahman: Thanks for such a realistic question. I think first of all manufacturers should give a holistic thinking about their own self and set the target market for whom they want to produce. If one is not ready to produce for a brand, then they should build themselves, I mean gradually they should grow. Also, there is price pressure already, workers wage, management cost and other costs are also increasing day by day. So, it is high time for the manufacturers to go for branding to grab more high-end brands and retailers. At the same time, it would also help them to get more visibility from the brands which will be a sustainable business model.
Textile Today: As you know, that lack of skilled manpower is an unavoidable acute problem for the Bangladesh textile industry, how the industry can overcome this problem?
Shafiur Rahman: Once the industry was more production oriented where there was available low-cost manpower, but now it is more professional, challenging and much more organized. Skilled manpower is now a situation demand and manufacturers cannot survive without a skilled workforce as they have to continuously adopt new technology, process, and many other things.
it is high time for the manufacturers to go for branding to grab more high-end brands and retailers. At the same time, it would also help them to get more visibility from the brands which will be a sustainable business model.
In the industry, mid-level management pro-activeness is another big challenge. Every year billions of dollar taken by foreign expertise. So, top management of an industry should lead and arrange training to mitigate this situation.
I feel our universities curriculum should also be updated since there is a huge gap between universities and the industry. So, a bridge is needed between the industry and education.
At the same time, I think it is not essential to hire lots of trainer from outside. Every factory has their own trainers. If they are enough proactive, they can be able to train their own peoples.
Textile Today: Recently RMG worker’s minimum wage has been set to 8,000 BDT. How do the brands and buyers see the whole scenario?
Shafiur Rahman: Workers are the heart of the RMG industry, they should be treated well. As a brand, we are ready for the new wage board even if it is more, we are ready to pay.
Actually, everybody involved should have taken the responsibility. Brands, manufacturers, and workers as well, should facilitate each other for a sustainable business model.
There should be a win-win situation both for the manufacturers and workers. Also, brands and buyers have to accept this wage board positively. Most importantly, it has to be confirmed that by this wage board workers living standard is really getting up to the mark.
Textile Today: What is the business plan of G-Star Raw in Bangladesh?
Shafiur Rahman: Basically, we have our own sourcing strategy. In the last 10 years, there were lots of ups and downs in our country. By the end of this year, there is the national election. We don’t know what will happen in the next three months. We as a brand, should not put everything in the same basket. We are already in 30% mark. Although we are trying to increase our denim business in Bangladesh.