Bangladesh still top exporter of denim to the US

Bangladesh currently holds a market share of nearly 23% in the US denim market as the market leader as of September

Despite a slowdown in the US caused by declining consumer demand, Bangladesh is still the number one exporter of denim garments to the US.

Data from the Office of Textiles and Apparel (Otexa) of the Commerce Department show that Bangladesh exported denim apparel to the North American country worth $738.70 million in the first nine months of 2022, up 42.01% from $520.16 million during the same period of 2021.

During the aforementioned period in 2022, the US imported denim clothing worth $3.24 billion, a minor increase of 27.78% from $2.54 billion during the same time period in 2017.

In 2021, Bangladesh became the top denim exporter to the US for the second consecutive year.

Bangladesh currently holds a market share of nearly 23% in the US denim market as the market leader as of September 2022 and remained the top exporter in the European Union (EU) market since 2017.

According to industry insiders, Bangladesh was still leading the market despite global economic turbulence, and inflation, and hoped to be the dominant exporter by the end of this year as Bangladeshi denim is the biggest brand in the US market and US buyers considered it an elite product of high quality.

Other than Bangladesh, imports from the second highest supplier, Mexico, increased 18.99% to $561.38 million, from $471.78 million in the mentioned period of 2021.

Imports from disaster-stricken Pakistan soared by 36.63% to $376.05 million in the first nine months of 2022, up from $275.9 million in the same period of 2021. 

Supply from Vietnam to the US grew by YoY 25.12% to $348.64 million in the mentioned period, up from $278.64 million in the January-September period of 2021.

Shipments from China continued to lag, up 6.12% to $291.45 million in January-September of 2022 from $274.63 million in the same period of the last year, with a market share of 9.64%, Otexa data said.

However, the import of denim apparel from the US slowed again in September. 

According to various reports, as the US economy faces headwinds, US apparel imports have slowed substantially.

Specifically, with US consumers struggling with four-decade-high inflation and having to prioritize budget for other necessities, the value of US clothing retail sales will face a hard impact.

Moreover, the rising sourcing costs remained a significant business challenge to US fashion companies and due to weakened demand, US fashion brands and retailers could not entirely pass the rising sourcing cost on to consumers.

Talking to Dhaka Tribune, Mohiuddin Rubel, director of the BGMEA and additional managing director of Denim Expert Limited, said that Bangladesh's position in the US, especially in denim, has always been good.

He also said that just after the shock of the Covid-19 pandemic, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war further hit the global economy and despite this situation, the denim of Bangladesh has been doing well.

“There is a gap of two months in Otexa's data, in which case growth will slow down in October and November, but till September we clearly did well,” he added.

The infrastructure, technology, and technical know-how for denim have developed significantly in the country as also the skills of people related to the sector.

“The backward linkage industry has been strengthened, research, studios have all improved because of which denim has strengthened its position,” he added.

However, gas and utility support has been hampered by the ongoing global economic turmoil which may impact the sector too.

“If the global economic situation was not bad, then we had the opportunity and ability to go further. Still, if the ongoing critical situation improves, we are confident that we will be ahead of any of our competitors,” he added.