Interview by Regina Henkel

With its fourth edition ahead happening 25-26 April in Dhaka, Bangladesh Denim Expo wants to further settle its position as denim event in Asia and improve the image of Bangladesh as a producing country. We talked to Mostafiz Uddin who founded Bangladesh Denim Expo in 2014 as a non-profit organization. He explains why his aim is not to earn money with the fair but to help improving his country’s reputation as a reliable manufacturing partner and to demonstrate that things are changing.

Bangladesh is still in the headlines - there is ongoing international criticism about the production standards and conditions in your country. How do you see this criticism?
I think that any constructive criticism is useful for the industry to rectify the wrongs. However, there are indeed many commendable practices in the clothing sector of Bangladesh which also need to be highlighted in the international media. This will inspire others to follow these good practices as well.

You are a denim producer and you founded the fair Bangladesh Denim Expo as a nonprofit organization. Why?
Well, my professional background is not a typical one. Since my childhood I have invested in helping my country and its people at different levels. I became a sourcing agent in the textile business and built the Denim Expert Ltd factory, which is today one of the most advanced certified plants in Bangladesh. The Bangladesh Denim Expo is a non-benefit organization because its goal, and my goal, is to help the Bangladeshi denim-manufacturing industry. And this goal stands above making profit. It’s about promoting people and factories who respect their workers, who comply with eco standards, who prove to the world how great and sustainable manufacturing in Bangladesh can be.  It’s about helping my wonderful country in a tough business world.

How does it come that now two denim shows take place in Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Denim Expo and the Denims and Jeans?
My mind is totally focused on Bangladesh Denim Expo and its “nonprofit” goals. I see and understand that there are quite a few “denim shows” around the world these days. And all organizers may have their very own ideas, very own goals. Mine is to promote denim in and from Bangladesh and this on an international level, and I focus on doing this the best way I can.


An important focus of the fair is the issue of sustainability in its history. How far is sustainable denim production in Bangladesh?
Yes, it is very rightly mentioned that an important focus of Bangladesh Denim Expo is sustainability. I must share with you here the pleasant fact that an increasing number of garment factories are going green in Bangladesh. The country has already 26 factories certified LEED by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). More than 100 factories are in the pipeline waiting for the LEED certifications by the USGBC. The denim factories in Bangladesh are also adopting more eco-friendly and sustainable methods than any time before. We have LEED Platinum rated green denim factory in the country which secured 92 points out of 110 points rating system of the USGBC.

What has changed since the disaster of Rana Plaza in the textile production in Bangladesh? Which problems do still exist?
As even the darkest cloud in the sky has silver lining, the redeeming side of the Rana Plaza is that the disaster has brought the retailers and manufacturers together to put huge efforts for ensuring safety in Bangladesh garment industry. The factory inspection process has already been completed by Accord, Alliance and National Action Plan covering 3664 factories, and 37 risky factories have been closed. All the inspection reports of the factories by three initiatives are posted onto the website of the Department of Inspection of Factories and Establishments (DIFE) of Bangladesh. So far more than 2500 summary reports have been uploaded on the website which is publicly available, that is unique in the world.

After the inspection, the factories are carrying out remediation work to achieve higher level of safety standards. A number of 1216 factories are advised to undertake Detailed Engineering Assessment (DEA) which is highly expensive, and the factories are doing it. Here, we have some challenges in the area of remediation financing, especially for SME factories. So we would request buyers' support on the financing issue.