Internal design on the drawing board as garment makers aim for profit

More and more clothing manufacturers in the country are dedicated to the implementation of product development

Shifting from manufacturing to design – and even the imagination – will improve Bangladesh’s ability to compete in the global apparel market, industry insiders told the Dhaka Tribune.

Investing in design studios, research and development is one of the strategies that manufacturers implement to maintain their position and gain an edge in the clothing industry known for its competitiveness.

Bangladesh is considered to be one of the largest manufacturers of mass commodities, but the garment makers are trying to keep up with the rapidly changing international market and analyze the trends, culture and fashion of countries buyers.

More and more clothing manufacturers in the country are dedicated to the implementation of product development, despite the high costs of setting up design and innovation centers.

Industry insiders added that if the movement toward design takes hold among manufacturers, it will help offset short-term drawbacks and pave the way for long-term competitiveness.

Additionally, the economic changes created by the pandemic have also shown the growing demand for creative and innovative designs beyond the basics, they said.

As a result, in-house product design and development is emerging in an industry previously supported by the traditional cut-and-sewn approach.

According to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), there are currently over 100 garment factories with in-house design studios, research and innovation centers and at least 25 of them are modern, world-class design studios.

Why an in-house design studio?

The stronger the design developer, the more profit garment factories can make. Depending on the design innovation appreciated by buyers, a factory can achieve 20% more profit over basic cut-and-sewn products.

A number of factories have their qualified studios and designers overseas. In addition, a number of companies that currently sell clothing in the local market also have innovative design centers, industry insiders said.

Denim Expert Limited, based in Chattogram, has had its own design and development studio for over 12 years now, employing 25 skilled designers.

Mohiuddin Rubel, director of Denim Expert Limited, and also a director of BGMEA, said manufacturers nationwide were making the bases based on the design images sent by brands earlier.

“We didn’t have a lot of capacity and we didn’t have a chance to show our creativity and innovation. But there is no substitute for improving the research and development sector to get creative and move away from the grassroots cut, ”he said.

“Buyers have signature products whose design they never change. This is called the basics. They also provide some designs according to their demand, and the rest depends on the research and development capabilities of the manufacturer, ”he added.

He also said manufacturers need a dynamic team to understand the changes in the rest of the designs, research trends, seasons and buyers’ choices.

“If a factory has a world-class design studio, it can develop innovative designs and offer them to buyers. But there are a lot of big factories in our country that have not yet been able to develop design studios, ”said Mohiuddin Rubel.

There are many factories like Denim Expert that offer their own designs to buyers. We have seen that, when 10 product models are offered, 2 to 5 offers are retained by the buyer. And it is possible to derive maximum benefit from these products, he added.

“The profit made from 100,000 pieces of traditional products is the same profit made from 10,000 pieces of in-house designed products,” he added.

Jashim Uddin Chowdhury, Vice President (Apparel Division) of KDS Group, told Dhaka Tribune: “If one wants to do long term and sustainable business by producing products according to the passion, demand and choice of buyers ultimate, then he has no choice but to set up a design studio.

“It’s very difficult to survive in the market in this competitive age by cutting out only the classics and the basics. There is therefore no alternative to the innovation and creativity that lie in the creation of a design studio, ”he added.

He also said that an in-house design studio is the main effort to deal with the challenges of the sustainable market.

“We felt it and set up our UK design studio in 2016. The studio is run by a team of officials with long experience in the design industry who can analyze data to understand demand, demand, trend, the color of buyers, ”he said. added.

He also said that an in-house design studio is one of the selling points in the market today.

“However, an in-house design studio is a very expensive project. This project must be established by accepting that no return on investment (ROI) comes from the design studio, but it is the future business, which will secure and sustain your business in the long term, ”he added.

Clothing factories with world-class design studio

According to industry insiders, Epyllion Group, Viyellatex, Snowtex Group, Ananta Group, Sparrow Group, SM Knitwear, Sharmin Group, Team Group, Denim Expert Limited, Pacific Jeans, KDS Group, Square Fashion, Vintage Denim Studio, SQ Group , TAD Group, Fakir Fashion, Sonia Garments, Urmy Group, Meghna Knit and Interstoff Apparels Limited have world-class design studios.

In contacting the heads of Epyllion Group, Snowtex Group and Pacific Jeans, they also expressed the same thoughts.

They said that product development has become the business strategy of the entire supply chain in the current global scenario and the fast fashion era.

When contacted, an official at Puls Trading Far East Limited (H&M), one of the Bangladeshi clothing buyers, said they were now also receiving adequate design information from the manufacturers.

“Then we go through them and choose a few models. This is how good designs are developed from local design studios, ”he added.

However, the road to the creation of design studios is not very easy, the challenges are many.

Problems, perspectives with internal design studios

Industry insiders have said that a factory has to invest a huge amount of money to set up a design studio with a skilled workforce. A world-class design studio requires an investment of $ 2 million or around Tk17 crore or more with no return on investment.

In addition, there are also regular expenses, including maintenance and upgrading.

Khondakar Golam Moazzem, research director of CPD, explained to Dhaka Tribune the problems, perspectives and institutional reforms regarding the establishment of design studios.

“If the design of a factory is accepted by the buyer, then there is an opportunity to bring in more money,” he added.

He also said that studios need to know the relevant market and global fashion trends and gain knowledge by attending fashion shows.

“We have to keep in mind that one leap doesn’t get us too far, it’s a gradual change,” he also said.

If a factory has its own design studio, this helps reduce lead times. In addition, the time lag is reduced by producing fashionable products, as these stay in the market for a short period of time but generate the highest profit margin, he also said.

“We have to move forward gradually. For now, we can start by collaborating with global fashion houses, ”he added.

He also said that institutional change needs to be made. However, the government should inspire big companies to set up design studios.

“If necessary, the government can support them. It has a technology upgrading fund at the Bangladesh Bank, from which support can be provided, ”he added.

He also said that the government can provide political support for those who wish to open a home abroad.

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