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CHITTAGONG – The second edition of the Bangladesh Fashionology Summit suggested Bangladesh can be at the forefront of innovation which is sweeping through the ready-made garment industry. The show provided a unique platform for thinkers, innovators, experts, and educators to share innovative ideas on this edition’s main theme, ‘Digitalisation – the Next Destination’. The aim was to inform delegates how digitalisation fits in the world of the fashion industry.

“The industry is changing at an unprecedented rate,” said Mostafiz Uddin, founder of Bangladesh Fashionology Summit. “Bangladesh, the world’s second largest exporter of apparel, risks losing ground if it is not at the forefront of that change.

“The Fashionology Summit was about showing stakeholders in Bangladesh what is possible. The focus for the RMG sector in Bangladesh for the past 30 years has been about growth and volume. Moving forwards, we need a shift the emphasis towards added value products. Potentially, this could mean improved margins for manufacturers as well as leading to more high quality jobs in the industry.”

What will happen to Bangladesh’s 3.5 million ready-made garment industry workers with automation and digitisation was one of the key questions raised at the summit.

“We talk about Artificial Intelligence, but we don’t yet know about what will happen to our 3.5 million workers after we get automation,” said Dr Rubana Huq, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president. “Our workers are not going to become overnight coders – they will have to be reskilled,” Dr Rubana told the 400 delegates at the packed event. “There has to be a vision – can we set a national vision together?”

Dr Rubana also said Bangladesh also needed to “graduate beyond basics” into more added value products to remain relevant in a world where people can, “were a jacket that will check their temperature or take their heartbeat.”

She added that Bangladesh has, “risen from the ashes like a Pheonix,” since Rana Plaza and that it was now the safest and most sustainable garment manufacturing hub in the world.

Mr Tipu Munshi, Honourable Minister at Bangladesh’s Ministry of Commerce was also among the speakers. He suggested that rising wages and costs in Bangladesh have only served to emphasise the need to focus on added value products. “Technology, digitisation and innovation are the three words that can take us to the next level in the production of added value apparel,” he told delegates.

“In the 21st century, we need to transform our competitiveness on the basis of higher productivity. Digitisation and the Internet of Things is also an area where our industry is behind and needs to catch up.”

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