Denim Export & Bangladesh: Sustainable Growth in Global Market


Tahiya Nuzhat Peata

In the recent times, Denim and its diversified products has become the flagship and most talked about items of the Bangladeshi textile exporters. Despite the covid-19 crisis and its heavy flow in Bangladesh garments industry in 2020, it was able to keep its position as the top supplier of denim product in both US and EU, beating all odds up. The versatility of denim has made its demand sky high and favorite of all ages. The competitive price range, quality of products has helped Bangladesh to gain access in the denim global market. The demand of denim is not affected by the season or trend but remains the same almost all year round. Top brands such as H&M, C&A, JC Penney, Tesco, Zara, Li & Fung, K-Mart, Takko, G-Star, Inditex, Bestseller (Only & Sons, Only, Jack & Jones) etc. are currently sourcing their denim requirements from Bangladesh. Many local manufacturers have now developed their in-house sophisticated design studios or value addition to their products, which is also acting as a catalyst in enhancing this sector.

The world has started to recover from the crisis of COVID-19 and retail sales in USA and EU have gained pace in recent months, which is reflected in our export growth data. In Europe, one in every three persons wears the Bangladeshi denim products. Bangladesh has already overtaken China in denim supply to the EU countries because of quality products at competitive price range. In 2019, Bangladesh has been the largest exporter of jeans clothing to the EU, generating 1.31 billion euro, according to Eurostat data. ‘Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA)” – an USA based agency has recently published the trade data of USA for 2021 and stated that USA imported 798.42 million dollars’ worth of denim apparel from Bangladesh in 2021, which is the highest ever import from Bangladesh, experiencing 42.25% year-on-year growth. The market share of Bangladesh experienced a growth of 21.69% in 2021 from 20% in 2020. During the past 10 years (2011-2021), the value of USA apparel import from Bangladesh has increased by 4.71% annually whereas their import from the world has grown by 0.49% annually.

Securing second position after Bangladesh, Mexico’s market share climbed to 17.79% in 2021 from 16.7% in 2020. It exported 654.87 million US dollar worth of denim in 2021.

Vietnam in 3rd position witnessed a growth of 9.32% to 401.49 million US dollar in 2021. The market share for Vietnam to 10.94% from 13.1% in 2021 and it is observed that the manufacturing capacity issue is the promoter in growing the sector.
Pakistan’s market share was 10.59% at year’s end, increased from 9% in 2020 and exported 389.76 million US dollar.

At fifth position, China was the lowest among the all four competitors, came back with a growth of 16.87% in 2021 to 387.91 million US dollar. But it’s market share got lowered in 2021 to 10.54% from 11.8% in 2020.

Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) published country wise RMG export data and it stated, Bangladesh exported apparel worth 4.2 billion US dollar in the first six months of the current fiscal year and export earnings came from USA were 2.9 billion US dollar in the same period of 2021.

The ever-green demand of Denim has created a vast opportunity for Bangladesh to flourish and sustain in the global market. The total denim production of the world is approximately 7 billion meters. In Asian region, 70% of the denim is produced. Chinese apparel manufacturer industry is moving away from producing basic denim, which is giving way to the Bangladesh apparel industry and can easily pick up the demand. Focusing on quality, creating in-house design studios, value addition, competitive pricing has attracted top brands and made our denim more popular to them. But apart from all these, we should also be careful to emphasize on sustainability issues and keep an eye on the challenges to overcome in our industry. Demand for denim products for both men and women are increasing worldwide. 70 percent of the population in the US wear denim products regularly, with an average consumer owning seven denim products at any given time. In the UK each consumer owns an average of 17 denim garments. Annually 2.1 billion pieces of denim are sold globally.

Staying in traditional mind set, not investing in modern technologies of denim manufacturing, lower pricing offer and lack of negotiation skills, less research and innovation in products, less focus in waste management and efficiency, delay in shipments, still importing 50% denim fabric, lack of focus in product development and promotional strategies etc. are some of the important points to consider as challenges for denim manufacturers of our countries.


It can be assumed, how bright the future of Bangladesh’s denim industry is. Keeping in mind all the limitations, the manufacturers should try to focus more on making the backward linkage strong in the upcoming days. Denim product diversification and versatility can be done through more and more trend analysis, research and continuous process development, cost saving procedures etc. The “Made in Bangladesh” tag will spark with more grace in the global market if manufacturers and government join together to support each other and prioritize the development of Denim industry.

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