In a positive development for foreign currency earnings, the country successfully garnered $447.43 million through the export of headgear products, including hats and caps, during the last fiscal year, This marks a significant increase of 22.71 percent from the FY 2021-2022, highlighting Bangladesh’s emergence as a key player in the global headgear market.
According to data from the Export Promotion Bureau, the manufacturing of headwear items, such as headbands, hats, beanies, and caps, commenced almost two decades ago in Bangladesh, focusing entirely on exports. Over the years, the export of these products has experienced remarkable growth, with shipments rising from a mere $55 million in 2013-14 to nearly $450 million in the fiscal year 2022-23.
Nazmus Shakib, a former senior official of a cap manufacturing company, expressed astonishment at the significant advancements made in Bangladesh’s headgear export industry. The country’s dedication to this sector has paid off, resulting in impressive export figures.
The Export Processing Zones Authority (Bepza) reported that five headgear-making factories are operating in EPZs. These factories, including Actor Sporting Ltd and Dhakarea Ltd in Dhaka EPZ, as well as Young An Hat (BD) Ltd, Young An International (BD) Ltd, and Wink Company Ltd in Chittagong EPZ, play a pivotal role in the country’s headgear export.
Shafiul Azam, the general manager of Actor Sporting, noted that most headgear manufacturers in Bangladesh are concentrated in the export processing zones. These manufacturers primarily come from Hong Kong and South Korea. The demand for headgear items is seasonal, with orders typically placed towards the end of summer in Western economies to target sales during the winter season.
Bangladesh heavily relies on apparel items for approximately 85 percent of its export earnings, with leather and jute also contributing significantly. However, the recent success of headgear exports has demonstrated its potential as a valuable addition to the country’s export portfolio.
Notably, in FY23, less than 10 items were responsible for earning over $400 million, as per EPB data. Among these items, headgear products were a key player, with major shipments heading to the United States and Europe, the two largest markets for Bangladesh.
The industry’s ability to produce world-class headgear products at competitive prices is attributed to the availability of cheap labor and a skilled workforce. Investors from various countries, including China (Hong Kong) and South Korea, have recognized this potential and are actively engaged in producing headgear items in the EPZs.
The Bepza has placed significant emphasis on product diversification, with 70 percent of active industries in the EPZs now producing diversified products beyond the traditional ready-made garments.
Despite the headgear segment being part of the broader readymade apparel sector, local garment manufacturers in Bangladesh have not fully tapped into this niche. Consequently, foreign investors have seized the opportunity and are reaping the benefits. This has led to the employment of thousands of people, providing indirect economic advantages to the country.
Research firm Future Market Insights predicts significant growth in the global headwear market, with an annual growth rate of 6.6 percent projected from 2023 to 2033. The market is expected to reach $28.24 billion in 2023 and is predicted to grow to $53.51 billion by 2033. This growth is attributed to the rising trend of headwear as a style statement among the millennial and Gen Z demographics, with prominent brands launching headbands in modern patterns to cater to consumer preferences.