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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Building a better future: Into the world of sustainable kidswear

From using organic cotton to working with NGOs that strictly follow fair wage practice, check out how kidswear brands are making a place in the world of sustainability

Written by Shambhavi Dutta | New Delhi |
January 20, 2021 5:30:44 pm
Keeping it affordable yet accessible -- these brands are creating ripples in the world of sustainability. (Photo: Greendigo, MuuYee/ Instagram, designed by Gargi Singh)

The pandemic ignited many conversations, one being about the urgent need to lead a sustainable life by making environment-friendly choices, taking note of our consumption, and adopting lifestyle/fashion practices that can help make a larger difference. While there are many ways to begin with, cutting down excess — from daily habits and wardrobes — can be the first step.

But this change is not only for adults. Children’s wardrobes too, many a time, are full of clothes that have been lying unused and are made of materials that may not be biodegradable.

Enter sustainable fashion brands, which not only help reduce carbon footprint but are also skin-friendly. To understand more, indianexpress.com reached out to a few sustainable kidswear brands to decode their practices, understand their bid to contribute to a sustainable future and why the lockdown was a turning point for them. 

Getting noticed

Lockdown, coupled with social media, helped create awareness about mindfulness made people aware of such homegrown sustainable brands. (Photo: Greendigo)

Tired of relying on their friends and family to get clothes from abroad for their children, Meghna Kishore and Barkha Bhatnagar Das decided to launch their own label Greendigo, an online organic clothing brand for kids, in 2019. The brand, which uses materials like organic cotton, makes kidswear for babies (0-2 years) and kids up to 12 years. It recorded increased sales during the pandemic. “Our sales doubled, which was also due to the fact that we launched organic cotton face masks,” Kishore told indianexpress.com.

Shweta Pai, the founder of MuuYee, a Bengaluru-based unisex homegrown online label that makes toys and clothes for kids, echoes a similar sentiment and shares that her brand, too, witnessed a surge in sales during the pandemic. “Kidswear is easily available in malls, but with everyone being confined to homes, people turned to e-commerce, and brands like ours that only have an internet presence, started getting discovered and liked. Moreover, the pandemic nudged consumers to worry more about future generations. We recorded an increase of 40 per cent which is proof of the growing impact and interest of the larger audience,” she said. 

Pai, Kishore, and Ramona Saboo of Forty Red Bangles, an Australian online sustainable clothing brand that opened its first store in Jaipur during the pandemic, agree that the lockdown, coupled with social media, helped create awareness about mindfulness and introduced people to homegrown brands. 

Sustainable production process

The brands use natural dyes and the leftover dyes are used to water the plants. (Photo: MuuYee)

But going sustainable is no mean feat. One of the biggest challenges in making this lifestyle choice accessible is keeping the price affordable. And that’s what these mom-entrepreneurs ensure — everything is available under Rs 3,000. 

Greendigo, which is Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified, makes sure their entire production circle is eco-friendly, right from the time they acquire raw materials until it is processed. “Children are one of the largest consumers of apparel because they outgrow them quickly. Not only that, they are usually susceptible to toxic chemicals and synthetic clothing. This is why paying close attention to the fabrics used and the production process is of utmost importance to us,” Kishore said.  

But, it is not just the environment, the brand owners are doing their bit in helping society. “We produce clothes with the help of a supply chain which offers fair wages to its factory workers. We employ underprivileged women so that not only do we support local artisans, but also eliminate gender inequality,” Kishore added, mentioning they partake in organic farming which has lower emissions of greenhouse gases, thus, combating climate change.

MuuYee uses leftover and tattered cloth pieces as little patches on their creations. (Photo: MuuYee)

Each garment they sell comes with a certificate “that can be searched on the GOTS website to understand the impact the supply chain has. Thus, when a consumer buys a product they know its effect on the environment, including the carbon emissions occurring as a result of buying the product.”

Every outfit bought from Greendigo shows the calculated carbon footprint and what will be done to offset the same. (Photo: screengrab/ Greendigo website)

On the other hand, MuuYee aims to bring tradition along with sustainability into force. “Our entire collection is handwoven and braided; this allows us to employ artisans and reintroduce dying crafts in our clothing,” said Pai. A slow brand, MuuYee wants to get away from the consumerist nature of society, which is why, they say that they “have only come out with four collections,” since its inception in 2017. 

When it comes to production, their clothes use natural dyes, while the stitching is done locally in collaboration with various clusters and NGOs. They produce in small batches, ensuring there is no waste. “The water collected while dyeing is later used to water the plants, and leftover tattered pieces are hand-stitched as little cloth patches on the clothes. This has become our patent along with the practice of converting wet waste into manure, ” shared Pai.

Forty Red Bangles, which has been in the market for a decade, focuses on traditional design, and work in terms of a circular design concept. “This means everything from the outer packaging to the clothes are recycled or recyclable. Working with fabrics such as organic cotton and khaki, we create functional pieces that can be paired with everything. This is because a well-designed cloth can inspire you to wear it over and again,” said Saboo.

How to continue to remain sustainable?

Not only are the brands environmentally sustainable but also meet social requirements. (Photo: MuuYee)

As brands take it as their responsibility to produce slowly while making sure no harm is caused to the environment, it is also the responsibility of the consumers to consume mindfully and buy only what is needed,” Pai said.

Agreeing, Kishore added that both brands and consumers need to regulate how they manage waste. “Fresh fabric and samples which are left unused are donated to the slums or NGOs rather than dumping it in the landfill. Consumers should buy with the intention of longevity because every action has a reaction.”

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