An “outcry” from one of the denim industry’s biggest suppliers, Mostafiz Uddin, owner and creator of Bangladesh based denim manufacturing company, Denim Expert. What he says made us stop and think about more than just today and WFH and #stayathome:

denim industry

In an open letter Mostafiz Uddin describes the threatening situation the Bangladeshi RMG industry faces due to the Corona outbreak. The head of denim textile show Bangladesh Denim Expo and owner of jeans manufacturing company, Denim Expert, warns that a whole industry segment is in danger of being wiped out.
Here is his plea to the global community:

“It has taken more than four decades of incredibly hard work to build up the Bangladeshi RMG industry. In fact, the first export-orientated RMG industry of Bangladesh began when Daewoo of South Korea established a joint venture in 1977, almost 43 years ago.

As I write this now, there is a very real and serious threat that those 43 years will be wiped out in just three short months. That is the scale of the challenge we are facing. It is without precedent in all our lifetimes.

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 outbreak, orders are being placed on hold by buyers and retailers at a rate that we have never before witnessed. Business for the Bangladesh apparel industry has fallen off a cliff. Without orders, factories cannot pay their workers’ wages. Factories cannot remain operational. Factories will go bust.

And I am not just talking about one factory. I am talking about a whole industry, an industry which, as I say, took four decades to build from scratch.

There is a reason it took four decades to build our RMG industry. It required decades of learning. It required the development of new knowledge and new skills. Our human resources became global experts in the field of garment production techniques.

On factory floors, production techniques have been honed and fine-tuned in a process of continues improvement over four decades. The net result is that Bangladesh apparel industry is now the most responsive, client-focused producer of apparel in the world.

If the Bangladesh apparel industry is allowed to fail, we will lose all of the above overnight – and it will take years to come back. In a worse-case scenario, it may not even come back at all.

Be in no doubt, without Bangladesh, the global fashion industry will change as we know it. For years, major fashion brands have been getting designs from the catwalk into production and onto the shelves of shops within weeks. That’s in a large way thanks to the seamless operations of Bangladesh.

Want affordable, stylish fashion on a budget? Look no further than Bangladesh. Want high quality denim at competitive prices? Again, Bangladesh has the solution. A minor revolution has been underway in global apparel production in recent decades, and Bangladesh has been at the heart of it. Our country now exports apparel to more than 165 countries across the world.

The apparel industry of Bangladesh has shown amazing resilience to be where it is today. It has overcome huge crisis, including Rana Plaza, following which it implemented an unprecedented safety overhaul which was supported by all leading international apparel brands.

Billions of dollars have been invested to make the Bangladesh RMG industry as safe as it is today. If our industry is allowed to disappear, all of that money, all that time and effort, will have been for nothing.

My question to the global community is, do they still want Bangladesh to have a garment industry in three months? Do they still want the iconic ‘Made in Bangladesh’ label to be part of the Western world? If they do, then they need to support Bangladesh factories now.

I understand that all organizations along our supply chain have problems, and that we closures and redundancies are being announced.

I get that it is tough. But we need monetary support to keep the Bangladesh RMG industry alive. I am reaching out to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, IDH the Sustainable Trade Initiative, to the European Union, and to every country-specific development agency that has ever done business with Bangladesh.

At a strategic, global level, is any other garment production country capable of taking up the slack that would be left if Bangladesh was allowed to fail? The world will keep turning after COVID-19 is beaten. And the whole world will still need apparel supply chains, unless people the world-over decide to stop wearing clothing. Global industry could be getting back on its feet by the summer and, while there is no doubt the apparel industry will take a huge hit in 2020, there will still be a demand for good quality fashion at affordable prices. There will be a ‘bounce’ in business at some point.”

This article, more than anything else, made us realize that not only are we feeling the pandemonium effects in our everyday lives right now, but there will also be dire consequences in the future. Economical, fashion, gastronomic – you name it.

I don’t understand much of the “behind the scenes” in the manufacturing industries. But what I do understand is that at some point in fall/winter – hopefully before – we will be back in “real” life and out shopping. And if the buyers cancel their orders now, what will we be shopping for? Is there going to be an empty-stores syndrome? Buyers need to keep up with their orders because once we’re over this crisis, people will want to “compensate ” for lost times.

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