More than 50 Bangladesh knitwear companies are now sourcing organic cotton

More than 50 Bangladesh knitwear companies are now sourcing organic cotton

Bangladesh’s major knitwear manufacturers have scaled up their consumption of organic cotton fibre, meeting increasing demand from global buyers.

“We’re getting increased orders for apparel made of organic fibre,” Mohammad Hatem, a former vice president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), told just-style.

He said this growing outsourcing service offered price-point advantages to brands. For instance, he said, a retailer can sell an organic T-shirt for US$30, which could fetch US$20 if made from standard fibres.

Industry executives speaking to just-style said more than 50 Bangladesh knitwear companies are now sourcing cotton grown without chemicals or harmful pesticides.

Bangladesh imports more than 4.5m bales of cotton each year and the Bangladesh Cotton Association says half of this is now organic.

Manufacturers making a special effort to source organic cotton include integrated knitted fabric producers Viyellatex and DBL, both based in north Dhaka.

Viyellatex chairman David Hasanat told just-style that his firm sources organic fibre mostly from India, certified by the Netherlands-based Control Union. This guarantee of organic backward linkages has helped Viyellatex snare contracts from top fashion brands, such as Calvin Klein, Boss and Tommy Hilfiger.

“We process organic yarn to reduce the negative impact on the environment and consumers,” Mohammed Abdul Jabbar, managing director of US$375m-sales DBL Group told just-style. He noted that his company can command around 5% higher rates from buyers for organic products.

“Demand is growing. Only the big buyers used to order organic, now it is becoming common,” said Ashraful Haq, a deputy manager with MS Spinning, whose company charges US$0.20 higher for organic yarn. This cost is usually borne by foreign buyers procuring from Bangladeshi mills.