As Myanmar seeks to bolster its position in the apparel business, the country’s large labor force and trade relationships have been attracting investment from international fashion firms.
One of the companies making moves in Myanmar is South Korean clothing manufacturer Hansae. The company is growing its production capabilities in Myanmar with its second facility in the nation that will serve clients including fast-fashion giants Zara, H&M and Primark.
Hansae’s robust list of clients is expected to continue to grow, thanks to a strategic partnership with Spanish-based program design and development company Stronger Together, which will help it gain new customers and develop its existing business.
Hansae’s investment in Myanmar is strategic, given its European clientele. Myanmar is an appealing sourcing location for companies in the European Union, as it benefits from duty-free, quota-free trade access on all categories aside from arms and ammunition. As of 2017, 72 percent of exports from Myanmar to Europe were garments.
Along with attractive trade relationships, Myanmar boasts competitive wages and an experienced workforce. A significant portion of the nation’s almost 54 million residents are also working age.
Myanmar has been investing in its apparel manufacturing, which currently accounts for about 10 percent of its total exports. The Myanmar Garment Entrepreneurs Association says the nation is on track to reach its 10-year goal of growing apparel exports to $10 billion by 2024.
For its second Myanmar plant in Yangon, Hansae tapped New York-based architect Steven Holl, whose other projects have included the mixed-use Hudson Yards development in New York, the Shenzhen Art Museum and Library, and the Linked Hybrid complex in Beijing.
“Steven Holl has designed great buildings around the world, and we are honored that he took on this project,” said Hermann Chiu, managing vice president for strategic sales at Hansae. “This will be his first project with a manufacturer and in Myanmar. In the design of the office space and manufacturing facility, he will incorporate the use of eco-friendly materials, comfort for the people, modern architecture and more.”
On Dec. 11, Hansae broke ground on its facility, which will employ 6,000 workers among three factories. In comparison, Hansae’s existing plant in Yangon has 750 workers. Across all three factories in the new facility, there will be 180 sewing lines with 16 sewing workers per line.
Phase one, which consists of one factory, is slated to be completed this July. Meanwhile, the rest of the project, including the other factories and main office, is expected to be constructed by June 2021. Hansae will then continue setting up the factories until 2024.
At its opening, the facility will produce knit items, with plans to expand into wovens. Seeking to streamline the production process, the plant will use the Hansae Advanced Manufacturing System (HAMS), which digitizes production management from planning to quality assurance. For instance, virtual product modeling simplifies the design process, while machines are maintained using Internet of Things technologies. Other processes such as cutting will also be automated to further the smart operation approach.
Along with efficiency, another emphasis of the new facility design is eco-friendliness.
“Sustainability is important to Hansae and our global customers,” Chiu said. “We are taking the same approach in our manufacturing facilities, raw material choice and more.”
Click to learn more about Hansae.