As much as we need to brand our strides in safety and sustainability, we also need to brand our rich culture and history of creativity to the world. Herein lies the importance of using Bangla in our ‘Made in Bangladesh’ tags.
This month of February saw a great stride being made in Bangladesh’s apparel industry. Under their brand ‘Square Source’, the Bangladeshi garments manufacturer Wisdom Attires exported T-shirts to Malaysia with the tag ‘Made in Bangladesh’ in both English and Bangla language.
Bangla is not just a language for us, it’s a matter of pride and prejudice. Seventy years ago, we sacrificed our lives for the right to have Bangla as the state language. When the students brought out the fateful procession to realise this demand on 21st February 1952, the marauding Pakistani police opened fire and killed them.
This unique sacrifice for the mother tongue was later recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and in 1999 they declared the 21st of February as International Mother Language Day. Undoubtedly, the use of Bangla in tags will create awareness about our language and the language movement.
In fact, the use of Bangla has been encouraged by Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) since its present president and board took charge of the trade body in March 2021. Since then, BGMEA has been using ‘বাংলাদেশে তৈরি’ in almost all its communication materials where ‘Made in Bangladesh’ is used. Moreover, in the logo of ‘Made in Bangladesh Week’ – the largest event BGMEA organised ever in November last year – ‘বাংলাদেশে তৈরি’ was engraved in big fonts.
However, the pertinent question is whether this use of Bangla has any significance for business. Of course, yes.
In one of my recent conversations with the high-ups of some luxury brands, I learnt that they do production in Italy because of their historical reputation and rich culture. While Bangladesh’s reputation as a sourcing destination was tarnished by the Rana Plaza tragedy, the country has made significant improvements in safety and sustainability in the last decade. Still, it will take time to heal the damage the incident has caused to our reputation. But it is our rich culture and connection to apparel that we must advertise.
Our history of producing premium apparel dates back to the 17th century when muslin was imported to Europe from India. We had been famous in the world as producers of the muslin saree. Muslin was not only a premium apparel product at that time; the saree is still highly regarded as a masterpiece of fashion design and creativity today.
Any traveller visiting Bangladesh will find our arts and artistry scattered across the country. All our architectural heritage sites are highly decorated with art – be it a mosque or tomb or a zamindar house. For example, the Nakshi kantha we make is loved by Westerners and Asians alike. I have many foreign friends who always request the Nakshi kantha as a souvenir.
So, as much as we need to brand our strides in safety and sustainability, we also need to brand our rich culture and history of creativity to the world. Here lies the importance of using Bangla in our ‘Made in Bangladesh’ tags. It will invoke curiosity to learn more about our country and culture among consumers.
Wisdom attires started the journey by using Bangla in their tags that will be sold in the foreign land. But we hope to gradually ensure it in all our tags.
Abdullah Hil Rakib is the Managing Director of Team Group and he is also a Director of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).