Time for functional fabrics

Country’s garment industry is turning to manufacture functional fabrics, specially made with unique knitwear stuff, as global buyers are keen to source the items from Bangladesh bypassing competitors China, Turkey and India.
This potentially thriving business raises hopes of diversifying the export basket.
Sector leaders, however, stressed the need for grabbing the global functional fabric market for export diversification and unique features of the products which they think help Bangladesh achieve $50 billion export earnings by 2021.
Available information shows functional fabrics are special garment items made with cotton and specialised yarn. Sportswear, for instance, are functional fabrics which need special care and attention during manufacturing.
Functional fabrics include sportswear, ski dress, undergarment, swimming costume which has sweat absorbing and anti-fungal characteristics, said Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
It has huge value addition and is also costlier, said Azim, adding that such costliness help Bangladesh expand the export earning volume.
Functional fabrics also offer substantial amount of profit margin to the makers comparing to that of cotton fabrics.
Sources said some world-class sportswear retailers—Nike, Puma, Adidas and the like—are showing interest to place work order for sportswear to Bangladeshi garment makers.
China, one of the largest functional fabric makers, has been shifting its economy to hi-tech industry. So, it is a big chance for Bangladeshi manufacturers to grab the global sportswear market, said Abdus Salam Murshedy, president of Bangladesh Exporters Association.
Sources said the sportswear being made with special fabrics have the capability to absorb sweat of the players. Such self-functioning characteristics have made the garment item unique with the name of functional fabrics and caught the attention of both retailers and consumers.
It was learnt that many garment factories here like Grameen Knitwear Ltd, Landmark Group and Micro Fiber Group are making functional fabrics.
Grameen Knitwear is the proud manufacturer of the sportswear of England cricket team and also supplied sportswear of Bangladesh team in 2010 which were made with functional fabrics.
The world’s fashion trend has been shifting, people once preferred to wear cotton fabric while many now prefer functional fabrics, said Murshedy, adding that local RMG makers should grab a large slice of the world market.
Sources said the global market was once dominated by China, India and Turkey. Bangladesh is now trying to enter the market. Vietnam is also paying its effort to put its position above in manufacturing functional fabrics.
“Functional fabrics means active fabrics, meaning the fabrics itself will work,” said Md Hatem, former vice-president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
It needs more investment and special know-how as the weaving pattern of the item is not like the cotton fabric, he added.