Dhaka, Jan 9 (UNB) - At the onset of this winter, Kohinoor Begum visited the New Market here to buy a jacket for her granddaughter and found it hard to find one within her budget.
“We checked the local brands first but didn’t find anything likable within our budget,” she recalls.
Kohinoor Begum ended up buying a Chinese-made jacket at Tk 1,600. “The quality of our local product is not impressive,” she notes with a hint of disappointment. “We were looking for jackets costing between Tk 1,000 and Tk 2,000, but local goods weren’t good enough.”
She went on saying, “I’m disappointed that our local markets are dominated by foreign brands.”
Higher prices and lack of diversity of locally-produced winter clothes are encouraging many Bangladeshi customers to go for Chinese and Indian goods that are relatively cheaper and come with attractive designs.
Markets popular with shoppers from middle-class income group in Dhaka’s Bangabazar, Gulistan, Motijheel, New Market and Shantinagar were seen flooded with Chinese and Indian products.
Traders say they can hardly make any profit from local products.
At Dhaka’s Polwel Super Market, a hub of imported apparel business, Chinese jackets and sweaters are sold at Tk 1,500 to Tk 5,000. “They’re affordable and have good designs,” says Md Shaheedul Hasan Shaheed, owner of Golden Gallery.
Khadija Rahman, the chief designer of Aarong’s Taaga Man, says their target group is the middle class.
“Our T-shirts cost Tk 500-Tk 3,000 and jackets Tk 2,000-Tk 4,000. Production quantity is one of the reasons why our prices are higher. Another reason is that we try to produce better quality products than China and India,” she says.
Outmaneuvered by the Chinese, many local producers have started targeting the low- and lower-middle income customers.
Swapan Mia, proprietor of Fashion Way and AI Fashion House Limited, says they manufacture jackets and sweaters costing between Tk 300 to Tk 900 for the local market.
“It’s because we cannot compete with Chinese and Indian technologies,” he says.
Many local sellers are going with the tide. “We’re selling only foreign winter clothes,” says Mohammad Sirajul Islam, owner of Friendship Fashion at Bangabazar.
He says the use of modern machinery by Chinese factories ensures better finishing compared to Bangladeshi goods.
But, Sirajul says, local brands can still make a turnaround. “They’ve to come up with new items and designs or they risk losing more market shares,” he warns.