If you could look closely at the sportswear worn by top racers at the world's popular motorcycle race Isle of Man Tourist Trophy or even those worn by racers at Ireland's largest outdoor sporting event, the North West 200, you'd be surprised to find a red and green Made in Bangladesh tag.
The same tag can be seen in the Dakar Rally and other similar events. For these popular motorcycle racing events, many of the safety suits worn by the racers are made in Bangladesh.
Two factories are responsible for bringing the Bangladesh name to the global stage – Kadena Sportswear Limited in Cumilla Export Processing Zone (EPZ) and the Finix Sportswear Limited in Chattogram EPZ. Both are led by a Chinese national, who leveraged his understanding of the market demands early on.
The two factories have been producing gears for famous brands such as Harley-Davidson, Alpinestars and Revit.
Kadena's journey started in the 1990s when Ma Zhuang, a Chinese citizen, began setting up factories in China and Vietnam. In 2010, he set up a factory in Bangladesh's Cumilla to take advantage of the cheap and efficient labour, and the favourable environment for garment industries.
In August of the same year, he set up a sportswear factory and began exporting from a building he rented from the Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority (Bepza) on a small scale with an investment of $1 million.
Ma began with 50 workers on just two production lines of the building, exporting 10,000 pieces and earning $3 million. After that, there was no looking back.
Ma Zhuang kept increasing his range of production, alongside export earnings.
According to the company, the export revenue in 2012 was $10 million, rising to $19 million in 2014. Since then, export income has increased each year, reaching $30 million in 2016, $50 million in 2018 and $110 million in 2021.
The company is now targeting earnings of $180-190 million in 2022.
Although 100% of the production is done in Bangladesh, Kadena has marketing and business development offices in China.
At present, Kadena owns 10 plots and rents seven others from Bepza in Cumilla EPZ, having 10,000 workers in 110 production lines.
In March of this year, it inaugurated a new factory, Finix Sportswear Limited, in the Chattogram EPZ with an investment of $6 million. It has around 2,000 workers in the 27-line factory.
The company has a total annual production capacity of 6 million pieces of garments. The USA, Europe and Asia are the main markets of the company.
A total 65% of the company's total production is motorcycle safety suits, while the remaining 35% is outerwear. These include rainwear, skiwear for hills and mountains, swimming wear, down-padding jackets and sports gloves.
In addition, heating jackets and thermal products for colder countries are also made. The temperature inside these jackets is controlled through automated remotes.
Famous European brands Oakley, Amer Sport and Montbell are also catered to, with the made in Bangladesh brand being marketed worldwide.
Company's Senior Director Muhammad Abdul Mazed told The Business Standard, "The world's number one brand companies are our customers. Our products have a two-year warranty. We are the only manufacturers of these types of products in Bangladesh. Since the establishment of the factory in 2010, the focus has been on expanding the range of the company," he said.
He added that with time production capacity has increased and while production cost is high at the time, they are focusing on their marketing.
"While the production of motorcycle wear is high in our factory, the production of outerwear is slightly less. When orders for motorcycle wear slow down, outerwear production is ramped up," he said.