The Turkish denim industry has many competitive advantages in the international market, particularly in terms of its quality, extensive product range and designs. Denim accounts for 30 per cent of Turkey's total woven fabric production, and the country has a 6.5 per cent share of the world market in jeans manufacturing. Hasan Gulveren reports.

Turkish denim manufacturers enjoy a good reputation globally. There are around five major fully integrated factories which supply denim fabric to international brands such as Wrangler, Levi's, Nautica, H&M, Zara, Benetton, Dolce & Gabbana, Guess, Calvin Klein, Gas, Miss Sixty, Energy, Lucky Brand, Diesel, Replay, G-Star, Lee, Mavi and Colin's.

Turkey currently has a 6.5 per cent share of the world market in jeans manufacturing. Denim accounts for around 30 per cent of Turkey's total woven fabric production and is increasing every year.

A global player in denim production
The volume and quality of cotton - the raw material for denim - that is grown in Turkey provides a huge advantage for the country's denim producers, and as a result the fabric industry has evolved into a world-class sector.

Turkish denim production has risen rapidly over the past few years, with many companies choosing to invest in this sector as it is always in fashion and has a high consumption rate. It is estimated that Turkey's total denim production capacity is around 275-300 million metres annually.

There are five major vertically integrated suppliers in Turkey that produce 85-90 per cent of the country's total denim production. These five companies are ISKO, Gap Guneydogu, Orta Anadolu, Bossa and Kipas.

ISKO, the largest company, produces 15 million metres monthly. Gap Guneydogu is ranked second, with a monthly production capacity of 5 million metres and investments in Turkmenistan. Orta Anadolu is in third place with production at 3.5 million metres.

Turkey's denim fabric exports
Denim fabric exports from Turkey were valued at US$98.5 million in 1998, increasing to US$177.4 million in 2003 - a hike of 80.1 per cent. In 2004, Turkey's total denim exports amounted to US$284 million - a 60.1 per cent rise over the previous year.

Among the export destinations, Italy and Poland were top, with exports worth US$31.6 million and US$10.3 million respectively in the first five months of 2005. In third place was the USA with denim fabric exports of US$9.5 million.

Total denim fabric imports into the EU are approximately 100 million metres, and more than a quarter of this comes from Turkey.

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In terms of denim jeans, total EU imports were 135 million units in 2004 - of which about 25 million units were purchased from Turkey. Turkey's share of the EU market is about 20 per cent; in the US, however, it has around 10 per cent of the market.

Geographic proximity and a close economic relationship with the countries of the EU provide Turkey with a further competitive advantage.

Turkey's denim imports
Although Turkey is a leading denim fabric exporter, it also imports huge quantities of denim fabrics, mostly from Asian countries such as Pakistan, India and Indonesia. Denim is also imported from Italy and Brazil.

In 2004, Turkey imported around US$386 million of denim fabric. In the first five months of 2005, however, imports have reached US$182 million. Pakistan accounted for 24 per cent of imports, while India had 15 per cent.

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First-half jeans exports up by 51.3 per cent
Turkey earned US$705.3 million from its denim jeans exports in the first six months of 2005 according to the latest data from the Turkish Exporters' Assembly - a 51.3 per cent increase over the same period last year.

Turkish State Minister Kursad Tuzmen says that more than 200 million people throughout the world wear Turkish jeans, and that this year's export target for the jeans manufacturing sector is US$2.8 billion.

The Minister also noted that Turkey currently has a 6.5 per cent share of the world market in the jeans manufacturing sector. The main export markets for denim jeans are Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and other European countries, as well as the US.

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The future of denim in Turkey
The future of Turkey's denim sector depends on its efforts in marketing and promotion. Production needs to be enhanced, and the country must make a stronger stand in global markets and participate in international events in order to maintain its position in the EU market. Turkey should also create products aimed at new markets in the US, Africa and Asia.

Export figures for the last six years show that not only does Turkey have the capacity, but also that that it has the capability to produce high added-value products.

However, denim imports still exceed exports. One reason for this is that contract manufacturing forms an important part of the country's production capacity (excluding products with Turkish brand names) - but the denim fabrics used here tend to be imported in order to meet the price and quality demanded by the foreign producers who subcontract to Turkish firms.

Turkish denim manufacturers are also aware of the increasing trend in international markets for healthier and more environmentally friendly products and have adapted to these developments. Many Turkish fabric manufacturers have ecological labels for their products and meet the 'Eko-Tex Standard 100' which is one of the best-known ecolabels.

Major denim producers
Isko, headquarted in Inegol, Bursa, has a monthly capacity of 15 million metres of denim and is the largest producer of denim in Turkey. A fully integrated textile company with capabilities in yarn spinning, dyeing, weaving and finishing, ISKO produces 60 per cent of Turkey's total denim production. The company specialises in 100 per cent ring-spun cotton denim and cotton stretch denim, including cotton-Lycra, cotton-nylon and cotton- polyester. 

Gap Guneydogu
Founded in 1987, Gap Guneydogu Textile has a reputation for high quality denim production and produces 3.5 million meters per year in Turkey. Together with its investments in Uzbekistan, the company's total annual production capacity is around 60 million metres. It exports 35 million metres. 

Orta Anadolu
Orta Anadolu is an integrated spinning, weaving, indigo dyeing and finishing mill. Established in Kayseri, the mill covers an area of 156.000 square metres and employs around 950 people. It is the second-largest denim manufacturer in Turkey after ISKO with an monthly production of 3.5 million square metres. The company last year earned US$104 million from denim export sales; this year, however, it is targeting US$110 million.

Bossa Denim & Sportswear Fabric Mills, located in Adana, is an integrated producer established in 1991. Bossa's total prodution in 2004 was 24. With new investments, the company aims to increase this capacity to 3 million metres a month. Bossa is an export oriented company and sells 65 per cent of its production overseas.

Kipas Group
Kipas Group, located in the city of Kahramanmaras, has been producing yarn for the denim industry for over 20 years. The company moved into denim production in January 2003 and today makes high quality denim for both domestic and overseas markets. Kipas' total production capacity is 2.1 million metre per month.

By Hasan Gulveren.