Traditional Lungi business is being boosted up in the national and global market, however, to fetch this market appropriately, Bangladesh needs apposite vision and strategy.
The use of lungi clothes is a part of Bengali tradition. Due to adopting the modern western culture, its popularity among the young people of the country has been diminished slightly even earlier, though its popularity among the aged people is just as much the same as before. However, the continuing and upcoming new trendy styles of lungi are also bubbling among young generation too.
The quality of Bangladeshi lungi is the best in Asia. Many businessmen informed that there is a huge market for the country’s lungi in 25 countries including Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Dubai, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Indonesia, Canada, England and America as nearly one crore Bengali people working there.
Although the Bengali men are the main buyer of lungi, many people from India, Indonesia, and other countries are wearing Bangladeshi lungi now due to good quality, a variety of colors and designs. That is why the amount of exported lungi is increasing day by day.
Traders say lungi is also used as daily cloth by many peoples in Philippines, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Singapore, East Africa and the Middle East. Though the values, types, and designs of lungi of those countries are different from Bangladeshi lungis but, to capture their market, these products are being manufactured to export.
Lungi startup and market value
In the modern civilization, a lot of changes came in lungi technology and tradition. Lungi is undoubtedly the symbol of Bengal nobility. However, the demand for lungi is increasing day by day in village arena along with urban and the distinct identity of its own brand is spreading not only in the country but also in abroad. In Bangladesh, during Eid festive lungi business remains on top all time.
Local lungi market size is worth of Tk 1.5 thousand crore. Helal and Brothers (Amanat Shah) started the first lungi branding in Bangladesh. Afterward, almost 125 brands including Standard, ATM, Pakiza, Anushandhan, Bukhari, Sonar Bangla Textile, Decent, Unique, Ruhitpuri, Smart, Fazar Ali, JM, Sky, West, Rongdhonu are selling lungi. Its demand is rising in the country. It is now being sold in the foreign chain shop as a brand name.
It has been found in the various data analysis from the concerned persons that Bangladesh is earning around Tk 1,220 crore annually exporting about two crore pieces of lungi in 25 countries and almost 1,50,000 makers are involved with this sector directly and indirectly.
It is known that Indian businessmen are the big buyers of Bangladeshi lungi. Indian importers buy about 2.50 million pieces of lungi every year from Bangladesh and store in India’s West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Bihar, and Delhi. Then they export to different countries by putting their own company’s symbol or sticker on it.
According to the Bangladeshi Lungi Manufacturers, Exporters and Traders Association, at least 40 million people of Bangladesh use two pieces of lungi.
Accordingly, the domestic demand for annual lungi is around eight crore pieces, whose market value is about approximately 1.5 thousand crore taka. Every piece of lungi is sold from 350 to 4000 taka generally.
Check is the main feature of lungi in Bangladesh. If we think of popularity, one or two color check lungi is more popular than that of others. Check lungis are more popular among older people. However, the change came in lungi design according to fashion rules. There has been a slight change after independence.
Designer Chandra Shekhar Saha from fashion house ‘Aarong’ made a new design in black lungi for the first time in the nineties. Apart from the check, various works including print, batik, tie-dye, block, embroidery etc. are available. Lungi is stitched up by round and has many similarities with the skirt.
Due to the continuous growth of mechanical weaving since 1998, handloom lungi making culture has become stymied. In this way, 90 percent of the lungi is being prepared in an electric way. Handlooms are being closed in every year.
The cost of production and working hours of lungi making by an electricity-driven machine and a handloom is like a race between a turtle and a hare. But the appreciation of handloom made lungi is always high all time. Even in small quantities, handloom lungi producing main hubs have survived in some areas like Pabna, Kumarkhali of Kushtia, Baburhat in Narsingdi, Ruritpur, Keraniganj in Dhaka, Pabna, Pathrail, Karatia, Balla in Tangail and Shahzadpur, Enayetpur in Sirajganj.
Along with hand-made, modern electric power looms have been added to Kumarkhali of Kushtia. Manufacturing has been risen a couple of times, also increased the quality of goods. These products are now going to different markets of the world including Saudi Arabia, America, and India. Dohar and Nawabganj Upazilas of Dhaka are famous for the fame of woven lung is nationwide. Among many lungi hats in the country, jayapara is one of them. About 100 years ago, handmade lungi business started there. Jayapara Lungi is being exported to the abroad by meeting up the country’s demand. Narsingdi and karatia lungi have a great value and honor in the world market.
Some businessmen inform the reporter from several villages of Sirajganj Sadar and Kamarkhand upazila that 5 to 6 thousand families of Paikosha village are involved in making pit dhoti and lungi.
Here, about 5 lakh gamcha and lungi are being made by almost 10 thousand pit looms and 1,000 power looms in every month which market price is around one crore taka. The craftsmen sell these items for two days in a week in the local Pachalia hat.
An initiative of fashion houses and brands
Different corners for lungi are seen in different fashion houses in the country nowadays. Fashion House ‘Aranya’ who has been working on natural colors, has recently made the vegetable dye lungi for the first time. Aarong, Pride, Le Reve, Infinity, Anjan’s, K Craft, Nipun and many other fashion houses in the country have different lungi corners.
There are several multinational brands working to increase the popularity of sub-continental lungi worldwide with different names and styles. Spanish fast-fashion retailer Zara has recently launched lungi by naming ‘check mini skirt’ as the girls clothing. Although their marketing policies and excessive prices have created criticism across the world along with sub-continent.
If we keep eye on film or music industry especially in Tamil and Bollywood in India, then we’ll see they’re continuing work to highlight lungi by presenting some glamorous ways. Recently a Bollywood movie song named ‘Lungi Dance’ of ‘Chennai Express’ performed by superstar Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone has spread over a craze among young generation. Different fashion ramps are also held in Dhaka sometimes to uphold this traditional attire.
Need the vision to boost up the sector more
There is no doubt that Lungi business is accelerating in the national and global market. To fetch this market properly Bangladesh needs vision and strategy.
Mohammad Masud Rana, Manager (Administration) of Alauddin Textile Mills Ltd (ATM) said to the reporter, “Country’s maximum lungi business is hat centered. Now customers give the highest priority to brands to purchase products. In addition, in the case of design and quality, Amanat Shah and ATM lungi are ahead than others, which attracts people attention of all ages. Current monthly production of ATM lungi is about maximum 10 lakh pieces.”
“Instead of print, check lungi is going on more now. The wages of workers in this industry is low. A worker gets only 10-20 taka for one 350 taka rated lungi production,” he said.
‘‘The cost of lungi making has been increased recently due to the unstable yarn market, the unusual price increase in color and chemical since the last couple of years. But in the unfavorable environment, there has been a lot of expansion in this sector,” he added.
Lack of skilled workforce, gas, electricity remains as great problem in this industry like other business. However, if the government subsidizes the duty-free import of chemicals and banks give loans for entrepreneurs, lungi could be one of the leading and export earnings sector like readymade garments.