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A fabric does not only beautify its bearer, it also expresses the identity of a person. A fabric can be as simple as a plain sheet of threads, and as ornamental as a precious jewel. The Muslin- is not just any other fabric. It is the glory of the east, pride of the people. For almost half a millennia, Muslin has been the fruit of an ancient prized technique mastered by the expert craftsmen of the subcontinent. Clandestine in the past, the Muslin came from the handlooms of the skilled makers of Bengal, as well as other regions of the Indian subcontinent. Considered as the royal fabric, Muslin adorned the elegance of the British elites even further. It was them, who transported this aura to the entire world; making Muslin, perhaps the most craved fabric of all time.
AN OVERVIEW OF THE MUSLIN INDUSTRY OF BANGLADESH A Muslin Saree can be folded to fit inside a matchbox- the folklore from our childhood illustrates best: the premium quality of this age old fabric, the super fine knitting. The pioneer of tension threading technology, Muslin fabric consistently delivers a super fine threaded cloth; with next to transparent finish and with almost zero mass. Because muslin is made from loosely woven cotton thread, air can flow through it easily, which makes it an ideal background for shooting in dry, arid areas. Originally, muslin was used to create clothing and bandages, and later used in the theater as a versatile background. Textiles from Bengal have traditionally been ranked among the best in the world. They form a major part of the continent’s exports and have been the livelihood of certain communities for generations. Traces of Muslin go back in history as far as the Mughal era, later on passed on through the foreign regimes. But it was during the British rule, when the art of Muslin was exposed to the whole world. With flourishing trade and transfer of technical knowledge, Muslin became a global phenomenon, at the cost of its origin perishing. Bengal lost its edge, or so to say, its core competence.
Over the years, Muslin was produced by the Great Britain, a few Middle Eastern producers, and most recently, China. Over the last decade, China has almost single handedly taken over the control of the worldwide production of Muslin. Today, China holds almost half the market share of the Muslin market. Being a country of many competences, China has a number of competitive advantages in terms of the raw material: Cotton, manpower and the use of cost effective technologies. If intent is such to enter the market, China will be the main and almost the entire competition in terms of producing high quality Muslin fabric ranges. “Legend has it that the finest of muslin woven in Bangladesh is so soft and fine that an entire garment can pass through a signet ring! The fabric had such a high standing internationally even hundreds of years ago that it was believed to be used as shrouds for Egyptian Mummies. Apparently the best time to spin the yarn was in the early hours of the day or late afternoon, when the humidity and temperatures were just right. Most of the spinners were young nimble fingered girls with excellent vision, between the age of eighteen and thirty. These skilled artisans came from certain families around Dhaka and had spun the yarn for generations”- summarized in short, the historical background of Muslin in Bangladesh. It is one of the oldest industries of our country, and as history suggest, it is the industry with the most expertise, whatever may be its kind.
GAINING COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE THROUGH MUSLIN Along with the historic label, comes the technical advantage possible to acquire being a Bangladeshi producer of Muslin: Firstly, the abundance of cost effective labor. With the rise of our Textile and RMG industry, it will be simple enough to gather up a skilled workforce, capable of using modern technology and human expertise, delivering a fabric of delight: Muslin. Secondly, Bangladesh produces the best quality of cotton, the prime component of materializing the fabric. So, the main raw material of our production will be collected locally, without the major issue of importing from abroad, and most likely from our competitors. The right initiative to develop proper thread production facility will make it
not only a competence of our industry, but also a global competence, a promising sector on its own: our future plan of expansion. Lastly, our focus will not just be to use cheap machineries and equipments, but to integrate to the fullest: the combination of man and machine. The use of automated threading and knitting machineries brought from European manufacturers, along with our elite team of local textile engineers and technical experts operating at the heart of its operation: our hope is the ultimate fusion of human intelligence and mechanized precision, the key to produce the best Muslin in the world. Muslin: the plain-woven cotton fabric is made in various weights. The better qualities of muslin are fine and smooth in texture and are woven from evenly spun warps and wefts, or fillings. They are given a soft finish, bleached or piece-dyed, and are sometimes patterned in the loom or printed. The coarser varieties are often of irregular yarns and textures, bleached, unbleached, or piece-dyed and are generally finished by the application of sizing. Grades of muslin are known by such names as book, mull, swiss, and sheeting.
MUSLIN PRODUCTS The product category of our choice is therefore naturally the historic Bengali Muslin, the best quality Indian Muslin found across the world. Among the various kinds, our product range will feature: Muslin Sheeting: Muslin sheeting is a smoother, wider material that may be used to make bedsheets, comforters, or simple curtains. Muslin sheeting can also be used in upholstery to back other materials and provide a firm support. This wider fabric tends to be more expensive than narrower basic muslin because it is more difficult to weave. Sheeting commonly comes in widths of 72 inches, 96 inches and 108 inches. Basic Muslin: The most common muslin available in modern times is a basic white or natural cotton fabric, often sold along with quilting supplies. This type of muslin is used in linings, to make practice versions of garments, and to provide stiffness in between lighter weight fabrics. It
is generally inexpensive and fairly even--though cheaper muslin is sometimes finished with sizing to make it seem smoother. Success in the global Muslin market will depend upon factors such the future prospect of Bangladesh in the textile industry. The self sufficient local industry is already hugely benefitted by the flourishing RMG industry and participation in multiple free trade agreements and zero barrier trade policies worldwide. Advantages in terms of production as mentioned before are also a competitive advantage over neighboring competitors as India, Pakistan and Vietnam, as well as the European competition. As for China, consistent delivery of superior quality of finished product will ultimately shift the dominance over to our side, returning what is rightfully ours, allowing us to restore our lost glory: the Muslin of Bangladesh.
CONCLUSION In conclusion, we see nothing but bright future in reviving the Muslin of our country. There is no doubt and no obstacle to take Bangladesh once again in the Muslin market as a potential market leader. With abundance of resources and skilled workforce, a cost efficient production of Muslin is most likely to return huge benefits in terms of earning foreign remittance by exporting Muslin fabrics to the world: a product of expensive and vast global demand.
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