Bangladesh knitwear export has increased by 11.76% to 16.24 billion USD in 2018 compared to last calendar year that was 14.30 billion USD in 2017. One of the prime reasons for this outstanding growth of the knitwear industry is the preferences of the new young generation. The taste of fashion lovers has been switched. Due to its best of touch and feel factors, knitted is being preferred over woven. The best part about knitwear is its versatility.
It can be worn formally as well as casually, depending on the mood and place. People today do not look at t-shirts as a basic item of clothing, but something that can express their attitude towards life. Knit t-shirt or polo shirt is getting popularity among youth and aged because of having different looks and less hassle for quick outwear.
Md. Amran Khan, Manager (Knit Division) of Echotex Ltd said, “Despite being a bit strong in woven, the knitwear industry of Bangladesh is on a double-digit growth trajectory. The Bangladeshi knit industry is gearing up for a bigger play in the RMG. Trade in knitwear is running better compared to woven and there is an increased demand for knitted apparels as Bangladesh is self-sufficient in the knit sector.”
Despite being a bit strong in woven, the knitwear industry of Bangladesh is on a double-digit growth trajectory. The Bangladeshi knit industry is gearing up for a bigger play in the RMG.
“Styles and designs can be changed easily and faster in knitted garments, but not in a woven. These garments are easy to maintain and comfortable to wear compared to the woven-market,” Amran Khan added.
Knitwear production growing rapidly
Almost 1500 factories in Bangladesh makes knit clothes, according to BKMEA.
Knit products exports are on the rise as Bangladesh has a strong backward linkage and good productivity. However, woven products manufacturers are highly dependent on import for fabrics which costs more. As a result, export earnings from knit goods have seen healthier growth and it is gaining its strength in the global market.
On the other hand, the value addition of woven products is less than knit products. The capital investment required for starting a new knitting unit is lower comparatively over other fabric making units. Stakeholders are investing to upgrade knit machinery to go for value addition. This will boost the buyer’s confidence and they will place orders for higher end knit products in Bangladesh.
Knitwear is also popular in the domestic market. Knitwear products are more favorable in the mild weather countries like Bangladesh where hot atmosphere prevails for 9-10 months. So, the country’s fashion houses and local suppliers are seen to work more with light GSM knit tee or polo shirts and tops in the summer while heavy GSM knit hoody or pullover are seen in the winter. Besides, woven is also given more precedence.
Variety of knitwear products
In the case of making, Bangladesh is producing more basic knit items like innerwear, t-shirt, pullover, sweater, hoodies, trousers, leggings etc. But currently, manufacturers are making high-value items with knit.
Flat or single jersey, purl, rib, interlock, jacquard, fleece, burn out the single jersey, micro or baby terry, pique, lacoste, pique slub, mesh, french terry fabrics (inside brushed) etc fabrics are being made in our country. Knit denim and stripe attires are spreading craze among the young generation nowadays.
Along with wash and dyeing, in almost every factory knitting has an R&D department to develop better products. It’s such a department where all kinds of new fashionable creation have been developed and designers try to show their immense creativity level. To earn more profit scale and tempt to global buyers, factories need to emphasize on knitting R&D section more where new designs, new style, new innovations will be born.
Innovations in knitwear
The biggest innovations that are happening currently are in the recycled, eco-friendly fabrics as more global brands are adopting them. Knitwear, today is more appealing and attractive compared to before. New creative technologies have been invented to beautify knit items such as digital printing, glossy foil prints, inkjet printing and these are heating up the market. Knit wash is the key at this moment and is going to be a new fashion trend.
Jacquard, special or fancier yarns are another fabric that is gaining popularity. Knit fabrics are seen to be used in furniture and footwear making nowadays which looks really attractive and glamorous.
Seamless knitting and finishing technology are two of the major innovations in the knitwear world. This warp knitting machinery manufacturer sees significant opportunities in the seamless market and has been expanding its activities in that area.
Shima Seiki is the largest and one of the oldest automated knitting machine producers.
Mayer & Cie and Pilung offer advance semi-automated knitting machine for circular knitting. Stoll, Cixing and Groz-Beckert are another two leaders in knitting automation. Recently Pilung develops its four-track single-jersey float plating machine to produce a knit fabric that looks like a woven but has the feel and breathability of a knit. The industry’s machine manufacturers have focused on increased energy efficiency and waste reduction, moving more towards sustainability.
Md. Atikur Rahman, Programmer (Knit Fabric Design and Development) of Ningbo Cixing Co. Ltd said, “Bangladesh is still relying on old technology while only a few factories are using automated jacquard or flatbed jacquard machine. That’s why we cannot make enough high value-added items. Now knitting speed is 1.30 meter/sec whereas it was 0.9. The automation will help us reducing wages and makes sure more productivity if we all adopt it soon.”
The global market for knitwear is growing rapidly, and Bangladesh has a huge scope to expand its export to the global arena. Europe is identified as the single largest regional market for knitwear, although the US dominates with 55% market share. The Asia Pacific like China, India, Bangladesh etc are currently growing to be a promising market for the same.
The global knitwear market is competitive and fragmented. The knitwear fabrics and interactive textiles market will return to growth, reaching a value of US$ 364.8bn by 2020, according to new research by Global Industry Analysts (GIA). It seems that the revival of economic growth, recovery of consumer confidence, product innovations and sustainability would all help to put growth back on track. It can be safely assumed that the knitwear industry lifecycle is at the mature stage.
It is said that knitting Industry is the biggest contributor and backbone behind the RMG growth in Bangladesh. This industry has progressed due to the low cost of making, adequate order, better profits, skilled manpower etc. To reach targeted USD 50 billion dream by 2021, this country will have to invest more in this sector. The focus should also be given more on design and innovation-oriented products.