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Future in denimology

14The past week saw an exciting event take place in the capital’s Bashundhara Convention Centre. The 3rd edition of Bangladesh Denim Expo 2015 was held on 11 and 12 November.The event showcased the recent trends and developments in, about & related to denim, with hundreds of local and foreign visitors thronging the event premises over two days. According to organisers, a total of 39 denim companies from 14 countries, including hosts Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey, Germany, Singapore, the Netherlands and the USA, took part in the exhibition.Bangladesh Denim Expo 2015 also offered a series of insightful seminars on the sideline that engaged local and international leaders in the denim market, along with relevant stakeholders – in fruitful discussions with opinions, guidelines and suggestions to take the denim sector further ahead.In the inaugural session, Md Mostafiz Uddin, founder of the expo and managing director of Denim Expert Ltd, said, “The success of the last two denim expos have inspired me to go ahead with a third edition. My dream is to make Bangladesh an international denim hub and this expo is a small effort in realising that dream.” “The core theme of this year’s expo is sustainable denim as we want to encourage better business practices in denim production and also contribute to raising living standards of the people,” he added.He went on to say that Bangladesh Denim Expo is completely a non-profitable initiative with the surplus fund from the expo to be donated in building a Denim University in Bangladesh. There were four seminars organised as part of the expo where panelists discussed topics ranging from building denim leaders for sustainable growth to green denim branding on denim supply chain and innovations in wet processing.As a seminar panelist, Ishtiaq Alam, Director of Ananta Group, said Bangladesh’s denim industry has been changing with more value added products being offered to international clients, making it emerge as a strong international powerhouse.However, he noted that talent inflow in the country’s denim industry is limited as there is a lack of interest in working for the denim textile industry. Ishtiaq suggested a mix of relevant textile education and training facilities can help groom future talents in the country’s denim sector. Roger Hubert, Regional Head of H&M in Bangladesh and Pakistan and with 45 years of experience working in the denim sector, said, “There are great talents in Bangladesh and they need to be localised to benefit the local denim industry. Foreign expats are working in Bangladesh but they are not affecting local Bangladeshis’ prospects in the denim sector.” “Foreign expats can bring a change in working culture where asking questions is encouraged and governance is maintained. Local Bangladeshis can gain from knowledge transfer from foreign expats as well as get insights into the international consumer market that will be serving,” Hubert added. He also emphasised ensuring worker rights and best business practices that will help brand Bangladesh as the next big denim destination in the world. Hubert informed that nine Bangladeshis are working in H&M offices in different countries around the world.Shams Mahmud, Managing Director of Shasha Denims, said the Bangladeshi textile industry is relatively a young one having growth in the last 10-15 years. In the past, manufacturers only catered to the order requirements stated by their clients. But now, Bangladeshi denim manufacturers are dealing with more comprehensive solutions including designing, fabric engineering, chemical composition and much more. Hence, it is important to nurture homegrown talents who can lead the country’s denim sector to greater heights.Syed M Tanvir, Director of Pacific Jeans, said events like Bangladesh Denim Expo play a vital role in attracting newcomers to this prospective sector. Also local denim companies participating in international denim expos will help create brand visibility for the country’s denim industry.He also emphasised proper training of newcomers into this denim sector and giving them authority where they can learn from their own mistakes.Andrew Olah, CEO of Olah Inc, suggested a full-fledged denim university that will teach each and every aspect of denim manufacturing to new generation denim leaders. He also wants a separate Oscar’s style award ceremony for the international denim industry that will award the best leaders and brands in the sector resulting in more competitive practices and better quality denim products. Senior Vice-President of BGMEA, Bangladesh’s apex garments authority, Faruque Hassan said good practices are followed more than ever before in Bangladesh but not everybody is aware of it. “More Bangladeshi factories are adopting green techniques to cut down production costs,” he added.David Hasanat, Managing Director and CEO of Viyellatex Group, said Bangladesh is the most-green denim making country, as it is the lowest carbon emitter, compared to other industrialised nations. He also stated that denim is an eco-friendly product as it is long lasting and needs less water for washing. The whole expo area was decorated with environment-friendly bamboos, green plants and large cushions made of denim giving an overall feel of sustainability, the core theme of the expo.Visitors expressed their satisfaction with the overall organisation of the expo and were able to know about all the latest developments and trends in denim from Bangladesh and beyond.Exhibitors from China, Germany, Thailand and Turkey said they received huge response from this expo and are eager to work closely with Bangladesh as the country is emerging as the next competitive destination for denim due to worker’s skills and pricing.Mostafiz informed that the next editions of Bangladesh Denim Expo will be held in April and November 2016 respectively.  Over the years, Bangladesh has grown as a major hub of sourcing trendy denim products for international retailers such as H&M, Uniqlo, Wrangler, Levis, Nike, Tesco, Hugo Boss, Puma, Primark and JC Penny.The investment in the country’s denim sector is set to rise to Tk 7500 crore soon. A total of 30 mills now produce 21 million yards of denim fabric per month in the country. Current denim exports are worth $3 billion per year that is expected to hit $5 billion in the future.- UNB