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Denim Interviews

“Innovation is key to transform our denim sector”

Engr. Md. Nasir Ullah, Country Manager, Officina+39 (Bangladesh) highlighted many insights regarding Bangladesh denim washing industry, its recent challenges and the way outs to overcome them

Bangladesh has taken lead in the global denim export markets by grabbing more market and securing a double-digit growth. Bangladesh has established its strong foothold in the EU and the US market. Denim washing is very important to boost the sector as consumers are preferring washed denim products. Officina+39, an Italian textile chemical company, offers a range of chemical specialties, dyestuffs and pigments, in particular, for denim and garment fields.

Md. Nasir Ullah, Officina+39, Bangladesh
Figure 1: Engr. Md. Nasir Ullah, Country Manager, Officina+39 (Bangladesh).

Recently Textile Today was in a conversation with Engr. Md. Nasir Ullah, Country Manager, Officina+39 (Bangladesh) where he highlighted many insights regarding Bangladesh denim washing industry, its recent challenges and the way outs to overcome them.

Engr. Md. Nasir Ullah is a well experienced versatile leader in the denim washing sector. He has completed his B.Sc. Engineering (Garments Technology) from BUTEX and MBA (Textile & Apparel Marketing) from Primeasia University. Nasir Ullah was Ex. Head of Washing, Denimach Washing Ltd.

A glimpse of the conversation is put here for the reader.

Textile Today: How do you position Officina+39 in the global market?

Engr. Md. Nasir Ullah: Officina+39 is a medium-sized global fashion and sustainable chemical solution provider. Officina+39 is a leader in the denim washing market – especially in sustainable practices, innovation, value-addition.

Textile Today: What are the business opportunities you see in Bangladesh for Officina+39?

Engr. Md. Nasir Ullah: When I started with Officina+39 in 2015 our main focus was in denim washing. Now we have a good number of Bangladeshi denim manufacturers as customers. Currently, in the washing sector, we are promoting auxiliaries and fashionable dyestuffs. Also, we are providing sustainable products and technical support here in Bangladesh. With our experience and dedication, we are leading the chemical supply in the denim washing sector of Bangladesh.

Textile Today: What is your recent market share in Bangladesh? And what is your next plan regarding the Bangladesh market?

Engr. Md. Nasir Ullah: The denim washing market is not as big as the textile market – but we have a good percentage of market share in terms of volume and turnover. Officina+39 Bangladesh team is focused to keep the reputation we have earned.

Regarding the next plan, from the middle of 2018, we have started working in the exhaust process in a knit and also continuous process. We have lined up a full range of auxiliary products to serve that particular market. And from January 2019 we started promotion.

As I have mentioned we are focusing on the textile market, for that we have created another dedicated team to serve that market. And within one year we have achieved remarkable growth. We are selling our products to top giants in the Bangladesh knitwear industry and yarn dyeing units.

Textile Today: How do you see the denim washing industry of Bangladesh? What are the recent challenges of the Bangladesh denim washing sector and how these can be overcome?

Engr. Md. Nasir Ullah: Till today, most of the denim factories are focusing on just the buyer’s demand. Bangladeshi denim producers for the last 20-30 years copied whatever the brands ask, instead of developing new value-added denim. Sadly, till today 95% of the factories are from basic to medium range denim products. The innovation is absent in our denim manufacturing sector.

Challenges

Let me explain the grim scenario. When a brand gives samples for development to ten factories, after copying the sample the factories start bidding to get the order. As in Bangladesh, over the years the factories have grown massive in size and now they are desperate for orders. Even if they do loss, they are taking orders from brands to reduce the losses not to make a profit. Throughout the last half of 2019, the apparel manufacturing industry suffered a scarcity of orders.

Readymade garment manufacturers expected more orders from China, but unfortunately, those orders were taken by other competitor countries like Vietnam or Cambodia and Pakistan.

How to overcome

The Bangladeshi denim manufacturers must have to invest in denim washing R&D. In addition, they need to have own design studios to produce high-end value-added denim products to overcome this situation.

Being a washing expert what will I do in laundry to overcome this scenario? I will make a dedicated design team whose sole purpose will be to travel around the world to see the latest trends, automation, processes, and most importantly to see the latest technologies, how the world-leading laundries are implementing new things in denim washing. This design team will develop its own denim product line and the marketing team will present this to fashion brands. Obviously, this type of trendy denim products will give Bangladeshi denim manufacturers a better price bargaining power as its not available in the market.

Yes, of course, there is no alternative other than going for producing value-added denim. Our denim manufacturers are focused on getting big volume but basic denim garment orders.

Steps to follow BD denim washing
Figure 2: Steps to tackle the challenges of the Bangladesh denim washing industry.

A lot of apparel factory owners thinking that increased wage is a challenge. But workers need to live their lives and a better salary is one of the essential elements. Still, now Bangladesh is one of the lowest-paying salaries in the world and to me increased wage is not a problem. Rather we should transform our workers into human capital providing them training.

The textile and apparel industry is buzzing with increasing worker’s efficiency, but I will say besides efficiency, optimization of everything is paramount. We must always look for optimizing human and machinery resources to make denim manufacturing industry competitive.

If the workforce and the young textile engineers are trained and knowledgeable about the latest technologies of the denim sector than it will be really easy for the owners to produce value-added denim garments. The design team needs outside exposure to generate value. It is not possible to produce European trendy denim while working in a factory in Gazipur. Owners should come forward to train and send his/her R&D team abroad. Only then the team will feel the urge to take new challenges to stay in the global race.

A few days back I suggested to one of my known Laundry Head to choose a quality fresh engineer from his team and bring him out of production. Put him in innovation and sustainability with some authority so that he can create new things and implement them in bulk production. Once or twice a year send him abroad, and I think we can ensure real human capital transformation by this approach, be it at the owner level or the mid-level management.

Yes, overnight radical change is not possible in the Bangladesh denim manufacturing industry but step by step we need to implement all the value-added processes of denim washing. For example, if a factory produces 500000 pieces per month, then it can take a 50000 pcs value-added product order just to start with.

Being a washing expert what will I do in laundry to overcome this scenario? I will make a dedicated design team whose sole purpose will be to travel around the world to see the latest trends, automation, processes, and most importantly to see the latest technologies, how the world-leading laundries are implementing new things in denim washing. This design team will develop its own denim product line and the marketing team will present this to fashion brands. Obviously, this type of trendy denim products will give Bangladeshi denim manufacturers a better price bargaining power as its not available in the market.

Engr. Md. Nasir Ullah, Country Manager, Officina+39 (Bangladesh)

Textile Today: Do the Bangladeshi denim fabric suppliers have any role to play in this regard?

Engr. Md. Nasir Ullah: Definitely they do. A lot of the denim fabric suppliers are producing basic denim fabrics. Just like the denim washing sector the denim fabric suppliers should broaden their minds to see what Turkish, Italian denim mills, etc. are doing to stay upbeat and produce that kind of high-end denim fabric.

Textile Today: What is the better method to reduce the consumption of water and chemical in garments washing?

Engr. Md. Nasir Ullah: Marvelously, in the Bangladesh denim washing industry almost all the laundries are concerned and aware of ensuring low liquor ratio. But some of the good laundries are ensuring sustainability by combining steps in washing.

Lets’ say a denim garment washing need 10-11 steps of wet processing where the chemicals and water are required. If we can reduce the number of steps – 3 to 4 steps – then the amount of water usage will come down. More practically combining a couple of steps like desizing and enzyme in the same bath. In between some rinsing is also saved. In the last process of washing, PP neutralization, tinting and adding softener in the same bath can be a way to reduce the number of steps, which ultimately will save water, chemical, and utility.

Textile Today: How can nanobubble technology help to achieve sustainability? What are the prospects of this technology in Bangladesh?

Engr. Md. Nasir Ullah: Nanobubble technology is the best way to achieve sustainability in the denim washing sector. In this process, 1:1 is the standard liquor ratio. This is the best way possible to reduce water, chemical, utility in the denim washing. To me, nanobubble technology is the future in terms of sustainability.

In the Bangladesh denim washing sector, in general, the negative approach is prevailing thinking difficulties in bulk. But some pioneering laundries are doing it successfully.

Textile Today: China is shifting its business due to environmental hazards, especially in washing and dyeing. Should not Bangladesh think about its environmental sustainability?

Engr. Md. Nasir Ullah: In Bangladesh, unlike China, from the very beginning the textile and apparel industry was concerned about the environment due to the pressure from buyers. And we are much ahead than China in terms of environmental issues. Definitely, there is a lot to do in this arena as it is our responsibility. Almost all the laundries have ETP and the worker’s safety is strictly maintained by all the parties.

Textile Today: You are engaged with Textile Today Training as an Instructor for ‘Garments Washing & Effects’ Training. It’s really creating a great impact and helping the professionals and students to go forward very strongly. How do you see Textile Today’s initiative ‘Textile Today Training’ for transforming human capital of the textile and apparel industry?

Engr. Md. Nasir Ullah: This is a really great initiative by Textile Today Training. Cause when I started my career, I have found that there is a huge gap between academia and the industry. As the curriculum was not updated.

All the textile universities in a course should have 3 or 4 classes with teachers from the industry to connect the students with the industry. That is what I felt after joining the industry. And when I have heard about this initiative, I was eager to share my experience with future leaders. Already more than 100 students did this ‘Garments Washing & Effects’ course and almost all the students were really interested in the class and asked so many questions that I had to exceed the normally scheduled time.

As long as Textile Today Training continues ‘Garments Washing & Effects’ training course I will continue to share my experience with the students to develop tomorrow’s future leaders.

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