Innovate to revitalise Bangladesh’s silk industry

Publish: 9:17 PM, December 4, 2021 | Update: 9:17:PM, December 4, 2021

Dr P R Datta
In my most recent piece, “Revitalize the Bangladesh Silk Industry,” which was published on the 14th of November 2021 in Bangladesh today, I stated that the silk industry in Bangladesh is in a difficult position due to an extremely competitive global market. Despite a long history of silk manufacturing and export, Bangladesh is not a household name in the industry anymore. However, while there are challenges, there are also opportunities. Industry must understand the challenges and respond appropriately with innovative approaches. Understanding the current challenges, I have stated that it is time for industry to take appropriate measures to revitalise the sector, which has the potential to become one of the most vibrant export sectors, contributing significantly to the national economy. In my previous article, I focused on some of the most important issues those need to be addressed adequately for the sustainability and growth of the sector, such as health and safety concerns, staff training and employee care, innovation and technology adoption, transportation, Dhaka airport outlets, and some other important areas. This article is a follow-up to the previous one. This piece is the focus of some of the additional areas.

Traditional and contemporary designs: In the design process, there is always the risk that a corporation may adhere to what it knows. Modern production is design-driven by its very nature. Any collection should have both breadth and depth, as well as traditional and contemporary elements. Unfortunately, some in the silk industry have failed to recognise the importance of good design and, as a result, have failed to build great design teams. Traditional designs can be given a new spin by borrowing inspiration from historical artefacts, the scenery, and mythology. A corporation can help to build a uniqueness that reinforces brand identification by anchoring parts of its products in regional designs, art, and symbols. Looking outward and being aware of what is going on in the global market is critical. Portfolios necessitate fresh items that cater to shifting tastes and seasons. A corporation can ensure that its items are trendy and desired by enlisting the best of local and international expertise. Monuments, museum objects, and festivals are all sources of inspiration that should be used on a regular basis. Great designs entice buyers and help to boost the product’s profile. There is a much better possibility of obtaining essential media coverage in the fashion press and improving sales if you create a design cycle. His and Hers collections, as well as those adapted to the needs and desires of sophisticated foreign customers and clients, have become the norm.

Colour palettes for domestic and international markets: National characteristics appear in a variety of ways. The link between colour and colour combinations is an important aspect of any civilization. At their risk, designers and manufacturers ignore such colour choices. Pastel colours are preferred by some civilizations, while bold brilliant colours are preferred by others; subdued tones are preferred by some countries, while hot colours are preferred by others. Seasonal demands and fashion whims are added to these differences. It is especially crucial for individuals working with fabrics to be aware of these elements and be able to alter design and production to fit seasonal trends and demand. It’s worth mentioning that the British and Danes favour comparable colour combinations, whilst the Germans and Italians choose rather distinct ones. Climate, temperament, history, religious festivals, and custom are all factors to consider. By ensuring that the design team is aware of colour sensitivity and upcoming trends, the company will be able to anticipate customer needs. When putting together displays in the main showroom and creating catalogues and advertising materials for clients, it’s important to keep this in mind.

Green silk: The term “green silk” is new to the sericulture world. This is where manufacturing begins with the assumption that the environment is at the centre of everything. Sericulture, as a traditional industry, is more than capable of absorbing environmental credentials. From the disproportionate usage of urea-formaldehyde to the leeching of heavy metals and numerous other carcinogens into the water table, an eco-audit will quickly discover parts of the firm that are proving hazardous to the environment. Rajshahi’s silk manufacturers should avoid any criticism and boost the chance of international investment by striving for the greatest environmental standards. Companies that adhere to the highest ethical standards have a much higher chance of breaking into worldwide markets. Some people are achieving this by switching to organic silk production. Natural fibre silk mixes, such as cotton, linen, and even abaca (Musa textilis), are a viable option. Other manufacturers are attempting to comply with eco-marks in order to increase the value of their products. One solution available to the sector is geothermal energy, as is a greater use of natural herbicides. From a marketing standpoint, taking such a stance will get you a lot of brownie points. Some businesses are even considering finding environmental twins to assist them benefit from the best practises of others. Such actions could lead to Fair Trade certification, which would open up a new market.

Sericulture in Bangladesh is now significantly reliant on chemical imports for inputs and waste management. Not only are such imports expensive, but they also mean that jobs are created outside of the country. Imports can be hampered by seasonal delays and bad weather, and they are also costly in terms of carbon emissions. Concerns have been made about a variety of substances, ranging from arylamines to phenolic compounds. Some of these could be phased out in favour of more eco-friendly alternatives. When it comes to trash storage and disposal, more thought and planning are required. To assist cut costs, recycling should be infused into every element of the manufacturing process, and trash disposal should be given significantly more priority. Every employee is a component of such a strategy, and as such, they must be taught about their importance to the company’s long-term success. To generate a composite product, silk waste can be blended with polypropylene fibres. With international legislation on manufacturing and waste disposal tightening, the sector would benefit from a shift in attitude to guarantee that it follows both the letter and the spirit of the law.

Packaging-Attention to detail is king in marketing. Many silk manufacturers are thought to offer high-quality products that are let down by their packaging. A number of factors must be considered, including the usage of bar codes, colour, copywriting, storage convenience, and biodegradability. A product’s packaging says a lot about the firm that makes it. To give packaging a feeling of uniqueness, eco-friendly local materials and labour should be used. The packaging must fulfil a number of requirements: Physical security, barrier protection, information transfer, marketing, security, and convenience are all things that need to be considered. As environmental concerns become more widely known, the waste hierarchy of reduce, reuse, and recycle must be included as part of the design process. In respect to national and international standards, product identification, and electronic data transfer, symbols and labelling are also significant.

Corporate branding is more than just a name and a logo; it is an art form. Any product’s success depends on its branding strategy. Ongoing planning is required for brand name, identity, and management. Proper precautions in regard to proprietary rights should also be considered. Patenting ensures a level of protection on a national and worldwide level. A product’s brand image and experience can make or break it. What three terms come to mind when people think about your company? While businesses must build their own brand identities, there is significant potential for a collective brand that will help Bangladesh’s sericulture industry obtain more prominence. This may be employed by any company and would aid in the creation of a brand identity with genuine international appeal. Coordinated web presence: By working together, you can ensure that search engines recognise your interest in a specific product and its creators. It is possible to strengthen the sense of identification for the numerous silk producers by having a central web presence. This does not imply that individual enterprises should lose their identities; rather, it ensures that there is a stronger feeling of the Rajshahi silk brand as a whole. Such a website has the potential to become a one-stop shop for anyone looking for silk from Bangladesh, serving as the industry’s shop window. It’s also a good idea to provide links to all of the individual companies’ websites, as well as their contact information. To keep a website active, it must be updated on a regular basis. A dual language site (English and Bangla) is required, but it would be worthwhile to include several other languages, such as French, Italian, and Spanish, to give it more impact over time.

The writer is Educator, author, and researcher, Executive Chair, Centre for Business & Economic Research, UK