Children are one of the largest consumers of apparel. And also the most vulnerable customer segment with regard to the adverse effects of synthetic clothing and toxic chemicals. Children’s skin being about 30% thinner than adults, is more absorbent of substances present in their clothes.
Not surprisingly, with increasing exposure to pollutants and toxins in most clothes available today, there is a significant rise in the number of children prone to allergies, skin rashes and respiratory disorders.
Moreover, synthetic garments take a long time to decompose, creating long-term pollution which in turn impacts the future generations who will inherit this planet in the days to come. To make a significant environmental impact, it is not just the occasional partywear which needs to be sustainable, it is daily casualwear worn in larger numbers which must be responsibly produced.
In this scenario, two women-owned companies in India are taking baby steps to grow this nascent segment of Organic clothing for our future generations.
Barkha Das and Meghna Kishore started Greendigo with the vision of making ‘organic’ the new normal in baby clothes. Says Meghna, “In India, availability of good quality, organic cotton clothing for children is low. The handful of brands who offer certified organic cotton clothing for kids often charge a huge premium, which has resulted in the perception of organic clothing being very niche and for the elite only. We endeavoured to change this perception because in reality, organic cotton clothing can be very affordable and accessible to the masses.”
The journey was not without its challenges especially in setting up a reliable supply chain. Barkha explains, “Manufacturers often do not entertain start-ups since they fail to meet the MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity). Also, given that organic clothing for kids is still a relatively nascent category in India, there are only a handful of manufacturers whose supply chain is end-to-end compliant with the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).”
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Besides, the duo also sadly learnt that the majority of ‘organic’ brands are misleading consumers by indulging in greenwashing, thereby paying lip service to their standards on product quality and sustainability. They worked hard to create awareness that Greendigo is different from the rest. Devoid of artificial fertilisers, synthetic pesticides and toxic colours, Greendigo’s garments are soft, pure, comfortable and gentle on delicate skin of children while being environment-friendly.
Meghna points out that the certification from GOTS comes attached with every garment. From farms to factories, and from fabrics to dyes and colours - Greendigo’s entire supply chain is 100% GOTS certified. The GOTS standard affirms the organic status of raw materials and also guarantees that the manufacturing processes are environmentally responsible.
Additionally, all Greendigo garments come in reusable and recyclable packaging as the brand has eliminated use of plastic from all its packaging.
Organic clothing is often perceived to be dull, boring and high-maintenance thereby being unsuitable for children to wear daily. Greendigo endeavours to debunk this myth by offering good looking, vibrant, long-lasting garments for children aged 0 – 12 years. The garments are designed keeping in mind the comfort of children and the convenience of parents. Considering the active lifestyle of children, the garments are machine washable, hardwearing and practical.
Greendigo’s clothes are capsule wardrobe friendly and include everyday essentials such as onesies, tshirts, bottoms, dresses etc. which make mix and match a whole lot of fun. The brand also has clever designs such as babygrow onesies that feature additional fabric or extra buttons with the objective of offering more wear for growing babies while their reversible clothing styles offer the delight of two garments rolled into one. Barkha adds, “Then there is our Swaddle Bag which solves the problem of babies kicking off their blanket in sleep. Babies can now be securely zipped into the swaddle bag and sleep soundly through the night.”
Greendigo currently retails through its direct-to-consumer ecommerce channel and ships worldwide. In the coming months, the brand plans to venture into private labelling and white labelling for bulk buyers.
Almitra Tattva Babywearing
Almitra Tattva Babywearing Art studio is literally, Anamika Sengupta’s baby. It is also the first Indian company to introduce woven baby wraps that allow you to embrace your infants while you carry them around, snuggly wrapped in the most organic and safe fabrics. The best brands rise out of need and empathy and so was Almitra Tattva.
“It’s just not about hands free, but feeling empowered,” says Anamika, Founder, Almitra Tattva. Although Babywearing is a traditional concept in India, it is almost forgotten now, especially in the metros. Anamika’s husband Biplab Dutta took a step to become the first male babywearing certified consultant of India, inspired by childhood memories of his grandmother always wearing him.
Anamika reminisces, “It all started when our son Neo was born and I had to import a baby wrap to wear him from the US. Knowing that Babywearing has a deep rooted culture in India, it was surprising to see we don't make Babywearing wraps and this really inspired me to connect with artisans and make baby wraps with ASTM standards for global acceptance.”
Five years ago, Almitra Tattva was launched as a Facebook page, and is now a well-known international brand with more than 10 Facebook support groups across India and Europe, in local languages. Globally it sells in 54 countries now.
The key differentiators of the company, which makes Almitra stand apart from all other brands, are the traditional Indian designs, fair trade policies and support to local artisans in keeping their hand-work alive.
Another unique feature about the wraps is the sturdy, breathable, and comfortable nature of the fabric that sits comfortably on shoulders, in contrast to the regular thin wraps, which dig into the shoulders of the wearers. With a community building approach, the brand has appointed mom representatives across the globe, who believes in mutual growth and love. The baby carriers are safety tested, ergonomic, use organic fabrics and baby safe dyes. The product line includes Wraps, Ring Slings, Meh Dais and Soft Structured Carriers.
Speaking about the sourcing of the local materials and working with local weaver communities, Anamika shares, “The aim of Almitra Tattva is to provide Indian designs a global platform. All Almitra designs are indigenous and inspired from our soil. our artisans mostly belong to the Northern and North Eastern states of India.”