Organic baby clothes are catching the fancy of new-age parents like wildfire. With the demand for organic cotton growing exponentially in many regions of the world, retailers across the globe are ensuring the availability of organic clothing, especially organic kidswear.
As more and more people are getting acquainted with organic clothing and its benefits, there is a growing acceptance for organic clothes among Indian consumers today. Hence, terms like ‘hand spun’, ‘hand woven’, ‘coloured with natural dyes’ and ‘brought to the customer directly from producers’ (without middlemen) are gaining momentum in the corridors of retailers selling organic clothing.
Let us first understand the concept of organic clothing. Basically, organic clothing refers to apparel made from organic cotton with minimum use of chemicals and fertilisers. Organic clothes not only help in keeping environmental pollution in check, they are also feather soft on the skin.
These factors make organic clothes an ideal choice for kidswear, since organic cotton baby clothes are also manufactured without the use of toxic chemicals that may harm the baby’s soft skin. Even in the manufacturing process, the clothes are not be subjected to dyes or bleaches, nor are they sprayed with formaldehyde to preserve their ‘fresh look’ before shipping.
Status of organic apparels
Organic kidswear in India is still in its nascent stage. “There is definitely an increased awareness about organic food. However, the desire to wear organic clothing is still to catch on. At the end of the day, it is the design and the quality that sells a product,” said Anurag Saboo, Director, Forty Red Bangles. Founded in 2010, the Forty Red Bangles label is a marriage of sustainability and design.
Their product line includes organic women’s clothing and accessories, handcrafted jewellery, all-natural candles, upcycled home ware, organic kidswear and handmade toys. According to Deepak Agarwal, CEO, Gron Stockhlom,“In Europe organic cotton clothes enjoy one-third of the market of kidswear, while in India the figure is still negligible.”
The European organic kidswear chain, Gron Stockholm has brands like Geggamoja, Mijn, Bamboo Baby and Gron. The popularity of organic kidswear is high not just in Europe, but also in the US, UK and Japan. In India it is gaining ground, as the country is in income affluence and is also relatively unaffected by the recession, which has hit the developed markets.
Despite its slow growth, organic kidswear is making its niche amongst young urban parents. “The new age parents want to give nothing but the best to their kids,” said Niharika Verma, Co-Founder, BonOrganik. The Bengaluru-based organic kidswear brand offers both organic and non-organic kidswear range that comprises sleep suits, baby suits, t-shirts, night suits, etc.
Its clothing range focuses on the age group between 0-2 years, while the non-organic range has all the clothing for 2-12 years old, positioning themselves as a design-led affordable brand for upper-middle class. “We are targeting young parents for organic range as they are more aware about the benefits and are more eco-conscious,” added Verma.
Sourcing raw material and manufacturing
Most of the brands focus on using certified organic cotton. However, there are only a handful of producers that go up to the level of globally certified organic cotton fabric in India. The ones that do are based out of Orissa, Tirupur and Ahmedabad.
“We do our due diligence in sourcing high-quality organic cotton for use in all our garments. It has been a challenge to find printers who also adhere to international standards in terms of GOTS certification,” Saboo expressed. He further said,“We also use herbal or lowimpact GOTS certified dyes for the printing of our designs; and wherever possible we employ eco-friendly options, such as buttons made out of coconut shells, etc.”
Vickram Kumar, MD, Nino Bambino opined, “We lay a lot of emphasis on product quality. We have a dedicated quality assurance team that ensures that manufactured products pass through all our quality tests and are perfect for the precious little ones.”
Based out of Noida, Nino Bambino was launched in 2012. The premium organic kidswear brand offers a wide range of dresses for 0-6 years old.
Targeting and educating customers
The tremendous exposure from brands and media has made organic kidswear an appreciated category. “We have an active social media presence that we use to interact with our customers on a regular basis; through our blog, we educate and update customers about our line of product, so they have an understanding of this segment,” said Saboo.
With augmented income of the parents, they do not mind paying a little extra for something that is of superior quality and can benefit their children. Due to higher input costs, organic players like BonOrganik currently work on low margins. This is to let people try the products. However, they do not cut corners on any side.
“Another indirect approach is not to compromise on design and let people get surprised by the added benefit. This really works. When organic clothes are made in faded colours and outdated styles, the customers might pick up one or two but hesitate to make it a permanent choice, which is the need for any kidswear brand,” said Verma.