In Europe, more than 30 per cent of baby clothing today is organic cotton. The interesting fact is that while most of it is grown in India and exported, India’s own organic market is at a nascent stage.
The concept of organic clothing in India gained popularity only recently, with the launch of designer Anita Dongre’s label, Grassroot, in 2007. Since then, the demand for organic wear for kids has been gaining traction not only among the consumers but among various players as well. Where on one side the concept is gaining popularity in most of the fashion forward cities like Ahmedabad, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Pune, many players still believe that mass awareness for organic clothing is still missing in India. A popular notion also suggests that it is just a flush fad limited only to the upper crust of the society. “People are still happy with our products as we maintain very high quality which does not leave room for organic products. We are not yet receiving queries for organic products,” says CEO, N H Garments, Manoj Wadhwani.
Processed from organic cotton grown without chemical pesticides or fertilisers, every step in the production must meet the prescribed guidelines — right from the soil where it is grown to the processing facilities in which it is created. Thus, organic clothing is softer and far skin-friendly than conventional cotton clothing. The West understands this concept but most Indians are not aware of the benefits and positioning of organic cotton baby clothing. Organic cotton apparel also reduces the risk of respiratory problems and smells pleasant. As a whole, organic wear has a plethora of environmental, economic, social and ecological advantages the benefits of which extends till the farmers.
Popularly known as riches’ rag, organic clothing comes with a premium price
tag, which experts consider as the major drawback. For example, an organic cotton frock for girls is normally priced around Rs 800, a tag that will easily fetch you a satin laced silhouette for adults in India. Naturally, a lot of people cannot afford it. As a result,
many established re-sellers and retail department stores do not wish to carry it and emphasize on a unique selling proposition (USP). Another business challenge is lack of effective distribution and sales network across the potential market of the country, making its availability very scarce. Most importantly the low awareness regarding the concept of organic clothing is the main factor that poses as a resistance to the growth of this market.
Although the growth of organic wear has been slow in India, it is slowly gaining exposure and popularity. Players like myGREENkart.com, awerganic, Urrvi, Koonik and many more believe that the trend is catching up like wild fire as consumers are demanding more sustainable, eco-friendly, anti-odor and anti-fungal clothing. Not only up market entities like Armani Junior, Pinco Pallino, Fendi Kids, Miss Blumarine, Baby Dior, Burberry and Zara are venturing into this category. Even Indian fashion designers seem to be eyeing the premium organic kids clothing space of late. Some have even begun retailing their organic fashion wear for kids through stores such as Kidology in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Mumbai.
Also leading the market are giants Nino Bambino and Gron Stockholm, with the latter housing a string of brands like Geggamoja from Stockholm, Mijn from Netherlands, Bamboo Baby from United Kingdom and Jumina Of Norway.
“Even if you wear organic socks for a week, it will not stink and have harmful effect on skin,” says Prashant Verma, an organic wear consumer. New wave customers like these are also not only encouraging existing brands to enter into the category but also are facilitating in the inception of exclusive organic fashion brands like Bhu:sattva, Moral Fibre, Fusion Clothing, etc., in India.
“There might be many players now but we are the pioneers in the country to introduce Silver Knight technology in kids garment. People who use it and understand it know how safe it is for kids. And we believe that demand is going to rise,” says Director, Stitch Fab India Pvt Ltd, Varun More.
Despite being a niche market, at just 1 percent of the total apparel industry, the market for organic clothing is growing in India and the segment is set to get a leg up in times to come.