Top denim maker Pacific Jeans is spending $100 million to set up two new factories in Chattogram in two years with the view to diversifying product base.
One of the units, Pacific Knitex, will produce fabrics, while the other, Pacific Casuals, will make activewear, which would help the company broaden its product offerings from denim.
“Activewear is not a traditional garment product. Rather, it is a specialised product that Bangladesh is yet to explore,” said Syed M Tanvir, a director of Pacific Jeans, which exported denim products worth $400 million in fiscal 2017-18.
He hopes a good business prospect in this segment after seeing the progressive shift towards an active and healthy lifestyle globally.
North America dominates the global activewear industry thanks to its endless appetite for the athleisure trend.
Athleisure is a trend in fashion in which clothing designed for workouts and other athletic activities is worn in other settings such as at the workplace, schools or other casual or social occasions.
The European activewear market is also growing exponentially due to high popularity of sporting events, which led to increased participation and high demand for replica team jerseys and outerwear.
Asia-Pacific, which lags behind the US and Europe in use of activewear, is also expected to witness significant growth from 2018 to 2024 due to an increase in awareness of health and wellness and a rise in participation of youth population in sports activities, said Allied Market Research, a US-based research and advisory company.
Improvement in living standards and the rise in disposable income are expected to boost the growth of activewear market in the years to come, it added.
Vietnam has done well in activewear, which is made out of man-made fibre, according to Tanvir. “But that's because of Vietnam's duty benefits in the US market.”
Tanvir, who joined Pacific Jeans after completing his postgraduation degree in international marketing in 2004, has made the company the country's leading denim exporter in the last one decade.
Pacific Jeans, founded by his father M Nasir Uddin in a small scale in the Chattogram Export Processing Zone (CEPZ) in 1994, exports premium denim products. The price ranges from $50 to $180 a piece.
It employs 26,000 people in its five factories located in the CEPZ. The new facilities will create another 5,000 jobs.
The young entrepreneur sees a bright prospect for export of apparel products from Bangladesh, which according to him, is now the safest sourcing hub globally with skilled manpower.
“Bangladesh has set the standard, no matter how big or small a factory is,” said Tanvir, who works 11 to 12 hours a day.
But, there is no scope for complacency as Vietnam is going neck-to-neck with Bangladesh in the list of global apparel exporters.
“We have a good chance to boost our exports if we can utilise our opportunities,” he said.
Bangladesh has done fairly well in many economic indicators but the next 10 years will be crucial.
“We need the right infrastructure, energy and economic zones,” Tanvir added.