Global fashion experts and designers advised local apparel entrepreneurs to divert their commodity into fashion by using the latest technology at the first ever Bangladesh Fashionology Summit, held at International Convention City Bashundhara in the capital Dhaka on February 12.
They also said this is high time for Bangladesh to be innovative with adoption of latest technology as the global apparel industry is moving foward with fashionable products.
Bangladesh Apparel Exchange (BAE), an initiative to promote the country’s readymade garment (RMG) sector, organized the summit to discuss bridging the gap between the present and the future of the textile and fashion industry in Bangladesh through technology, innovation and knowledge.
David Birnbaum, transfer pricing expert and strategic advisor to the World Bank, suggested local garment makers take effective measures to ensure the quality of products, not only quantity, to remain competitive in the new dimension of future fashion technology. “The man-machine ratio is higher in Bangladesh than any other competitor countries and it should be reduced by adopting technology,” he explained.
He also said profit margin of Bangladesh is decreasing gradually because it is not delivering customers’ needs. “A factory is not a closed box. It works because it satisfies the needs of consumers.”
“We all agree that new technology will bring great change to the global garment industry and the supplying factories will have to embrace the new technology for survivable,” Birnbaum added.
“Bangladesh apparel and textile industry will have to adopt the latest technology to keep up with future fashion technology,” Eva Van Der Brugge, innovation manager of Fashion for Good, said while explaining the future trend of the country’s RMG sector.
Muchaneta Kapfunde, founder and editor-in-chief of the Fashnerd, estimated that the global market size of smart textiles would be US$130 billion by 2025 as these textiles are able to do many things that traditional fabrics cannot such as interacting with one’s surroundings and reacting to changes one’s environment. “The smart fabrics space was opening up a massive creative space for fashion designers and it would offer enhancement of human capabilities,” the editor explained.
Other speakers also talked about the use of artificial intelligence and automation in the supply chain, data management and analysis, virtual reality apps for customers and computer software for designers, and many more amazing innovations.
A total of 16 global experts on fashion and technology from 11 countries including the USA, the Netherlands, France, the UK, Japan, Canada, Sweden and India took part in different discussions and panels, which were split into four distinct sessions: Factory of the Future; Eco and Sustainable Innovation; On Demand Manufacturing and Mass Customization; and Smart Wearables (Fusion of Fashion and Tech) at the day-long summit.
Local entrepreneurs as well as the experts also come up with the suggestion of introducing new technology to enter into tech-driven manufacturing. If local entrepreneurs do not get ready now to cope up with the changes happening in the global apparel industry, Bangladesh may lose the race in fashion, they noted.
Mostafiz Uddin, founder and CEO of the BAE, said the BAE tried to bring under one roof the most inspiring and innovative thought leaders as well as exhibitors from different parts of the world to initiate the much-needed conversations about technology, digitization, and innovation in the apparel and fashion industry. “Our vision is to inform the Bangladeshi apparel manufacturers about the latest technology and to encourage transformation in the apparel and clothing sector. This will help us enter a new era of tech-driven manufacturing, ultimately taking the country to value added products and enhance competitiveness” said Mostafiz who is also the managing director of Denim Expert Limited, a Bangladesh-Netherlands joint venture industry operating at Karnaphuli Export Processing Zone in the country’s port city, Chittagong.
He also said: “We want to set up a platform for discovery, networking and inspiration focused on bridging the gap between the present and the future of the textile and fashion industry in Bangladesh with latest technology, innovation and knowledge.”
Regarding automation, the BAE CEO said the conventional belief that automation requires standardization and thus limits variety has been the primary reason for the slow uptake of automation in the fashion and apparel production in the past.
Mohiuddin Rubel, managing director of the BAE said: "The very objective of the BAE is to promote the apparel industry of Bangladesh. As the automation and innovation are the next major areas where the industry need to focus on the Bangladesh Fashionology Summit has been organized to inspire in the industry."
About 450 decision-making professionals from the key industry stakeholders like manufacturers, buyers, trade bodies and development partners participated in the summit. Organizers, visitors and guests expressed their satisfactions with the event, saying that it will help create an opportunity and space for buyers, producers, innovators, and othes to come together and exchange their experience and ideas.
In addition, designers from the Netherlands, Spain, the US, France, the UK and India showcased their latest digital tech collections at the fashion tech runway show. Smart wearables, 3D printed, LED embedded glow show collections were some of the futuristic creations also displayed.