Many celeb parents today ensure that their kids look as stylish as they do. The huge online and social media following of Taimur Ali Khan’s style of the day and Aradhya Bachchan’s dresses indicate a new beginning for kids’ fashion in India.
In the past three to five years a whole new market for premium, designer kidswear has emerged in India. Online brands Greendigo and veronna and bricks-and-mortar store Born, also available online, launched a year ago, are testimonies of the burgeoning business.
Brands in focus
Founder Veronna Damani, formerly a stylist with Elle India, launched her brand veronna when she started designing for her niece Sitara while pursuing a short course in Fashion Business. Damani wanted to see her niece wear clothes that are timeless, something that lacked in the market a few years ago.
Backed with a solid research that decoded the whys and hows of this gap in the market, and appreciation from people on her designed outfits, she launched her first collection in March 2019. “The decision to take my passion for fashion to the next level with veronna has been a very informed decision,” she says.
Another brand, Born, also started last year, in January, is a sustainable, luxury baby and kid clothing brand. It playfully blends French designs and Indian fabrics, explains brand’s founder Elodie Le Derf. “I was pregnant with my first baby when I realised the dearth of organic kidswear in Mumbai. The existing ones didn’t have innovative colours, prints and styles,” says Derf. “Many of my friends, both, locals and expats, shared similar sentiments. So, the businesswoman in me found an opportunity to venture into the untapped premium kidswear market.”
Launched in 2019, Greendigo is a vibrant line of 100 per cent organic kidswear that has a range of experimental everyday essentials. Its clothes are perfect for the little ones’ hassle-free capsule wardrobe. Sisters and Co-Founders Meghna Kishore and Barkha Bhatnagar Das gave up their 35-year long corporate careers to launch Greendigo. “We wanted to change the kids’ apparel industry. The health issues associated with the use of synthetic fabrics and their environmental impact deeply concerned us,” they say.
Around five to six years ago, the Indian market for sustainable, luxury kidswear was still in a vacuum state, which, in fact, propelled many homegrown brands to tap into this emerging segment. Damani believes that the rise in disposable income and the simultaneous increase in fashion awareness and added exposure has driven the demand for stylish kidswear.
Lifestyle aspirations are changing too, pushing parents to put in extra efforts to dress up their children to the nines. Kishore and Das explain, “For young parents today, their kids are a reflection of their own personality. This coupled with their rising disposable incomes has boosted the demand for premium-quality kidswear.” They add, “As parents are making informed choices for their children, the demand for clean, organic garments is growing.”
“For young parents today, their kids are a reflection of their own personality. This coupled with their rising disposable incomes has boosted the demand for premium-quality kidswear.”
Sustainability, for the longest time, has been termed as a trend, but these homegrown labels believe otherwise; it is now a way of life. Derf says, “The harmful elements that once went into making apparel are being eliminated millennial parents don’t want to compromise with their kids’ clothing or the environment.”
The International fashion industry for kids is no stranger to Indian parents. The ever-growing travels across countries and continents have introduced parents to global trends and consumption patterns. Damani often shopped for her niece from International designer labels such as Kate Spade, Ralph Lauren and Marc Jacobs. “A majority of my clients today are exposed to the brands abroad. So, it is natural for them to demand clothing, which echoes a mix of global designs, Indian aesthetics and safe fabrics.”
“A majority of my clients today are exposed to the brands abroad. So, it is natural for them to demand clothing, which echoes a mix of global designs, Indian aesthetics and safe fabrics.”
Homegrown vs. foreign brands
One thing that India’s homegrown kidswear labels can vouch for is their one-on-one engagement with the parent customers, which rarely is the case with their foreign counterparts. The room for feedback and exchange of ideas is big here. “Several parents come to us for customised clothes. They get completely involved with the brand, right from sourcing materials to selecting the stitches and embroidery,” says Derf.
For local designer brands, it is about giving the right product than competing with global design labels. “The kids’ fashion segment is so nascent that I feel there is space for every kind of brand.”
With these designer brands that want to reach out to every buyer group, there is also a rise in the number of influencers, bloggers and celebrity mums who make their significant consumer base. Born boasts of an illustrious clientele, which includes celebrities Neha Dhupia, Lisa Rani Ray, Sameera Reddy, Kiran Rao and Amrita Arora.
Kidswear industry caters to different age groups, from new-borns to toddlers and children up to 10 to 12 years. Backed with the understanding that up to four years of age, kids outgrow their garments in a span of just three months, veronna makes adjustable clothing, which can be used for a longer period of time. Their rompers, for instance, has a soft elastic that stretches at the waist.
“My niece has always been my muse, and the brand has grown with her. Since it’s all tried and tested, I know that our experimented elements will work with other kids as well,” Damani explains.
Elodie, for her brand Born, recently designed twin mother-daughter outfit sets. She says, “It is all about offering value and excitement to the wearer.”
Greendigo is helming the organic, toxic-free movement with its kidswear line. All its garments are certified 100 per cent certified organic by Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). “Parents who suffer from eczema, allergies and skin rashes prefer Greendigo’s skin-soft and comfortable pieces.
We ensure that our designs and silhouettes are fuss-free and functional for playtime wear, and are easy to maintain,” say Kishore and Das. Even the dyes and colours used are suitable for all skin types. “Considering children’s active lifestyle, apparel and accessories for them should be focused on comfort and practicality rather than opulent designs with poor functionality.”
Walking the ramp
Two prominent opinions always surface when the topic of kids fashion weeks arises; first, does runway performances help boost confidence among kids Second, do fashion shows have an adverse impact on children? Damani likes to look at the positive side. She believes that these events encourage healthy fashion. And when collaborated with exhibitions like The Mommy Network Pop Up, which records a significant number of conscious buyers, also boost sales.
With a growth rate of CAGR of 8.1 per cent, the kidswear market in India is expected to reach the value of Rs1,45,445 crore by 2027, whereas menswear and womenswear segment is expected to grow at a relatively lesser CAGR of 7.5 per cent and 7.6 per cent respectively, as reported by Indiaretailing.com.
“Earlier, parents weren’t willing to spend on luxury wear for kids, either because there weren’t enough brands or because they didn’t think of it as an important investment.”
Moving forward, the kids’ apparel business is headed for a boom. Constant appreciation from parents, collaborations and a friendly competition among brands are initiating a new conversation around kids’ fashion. Elodie summarises, “Earlier, parents weren’t willing to spend on luxury wear for kids, either because there weren’t enough brands or because they didn’t think of it as an important investment. But the last few years have witnessed young parents reroute to the luxury kidswear segment.”