The beginning of the export of T-shirts from Bangladesh was considered to be a landmark in the history of the garment manufacturing as it helped the country widen the product base.
Especially, a group of Narayanganj-based hosiery makers, who used to produce vests for males for the domestic markets, ventured out to explore the foreign markets in the late 1980s and it worked.
In the early days after Bangladesh made a foray into the global apparel market four and half a decades ago, the country’s apparel export was dependent on the quota system. In those days, T-shirts played a vital role as vest makers started exporting to European nations riding on the higher demand, especially among expatriate Bangladeshis.
Since soft and comfortable T-shirts made from cotton fibre were high in demand, local manufacturers began sending in bulk quantities and in multiple varieties.
Today, T-shirts are the second-highest exported item from Bangladesh.
Earnings from the T-shirt shipment were $7.15 billion in the last fiscal year, accounting for 23.11 per cent of the total garment exports of $42.61 billion, data from the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association showed.
The receipts were $7.23 billion in 2020-21 and $6.27 billion in 2019-20. European countries such as Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, France and Spain are the main export destinations for T-shirts.
During the Covid-19 pandemic when the global supply chain faced severe disruption, the T-shirt shipment offset the slowdown in overall exports as demand for knitted items rose significantly in Europe and the US since consumers were confined to their homes for the deadly virus.
Now, local entrepreneurs are investing heavily to produce sportswear and fashionable high-end T-shirts to boost exports.