The organic T-shirts market in India is a growing segment with new players entering the segment. With parents being more sensitive to kids health and safety, GOTS certified kids’ T-shirts are more in demand. “As per a survey done by GPNI few years back, 21 per cent Indian consumers were aware about terms like organic, recycled, etc. And a section of consumers even said they were willing to pay more for organic textiles,” says Sumit Gupta, Deputy Director Standards Development & Quality Assurance, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).
Gupta feels, the response of retail market is encouraging. Brands still have to invest in design, quality and trends but organic is an added advantage as it reduces the environment footprint of the product. It is important to understand that GOTS label includes environment and social compliance, besides using minimum 70 per cent organic fibres. Therefore, the customer can be sure that the products are safe for skin, while workers have received fair remuneration and safe working conditions.
Organic vs normal cotton
Gupta explains, “Organic cotton farming is cleaner than conventional cotton farming. There is no use of pesticides and synthetic fertilisers. This saves farmers’ families from carcinogenic pesticides. Moreover, farmers can save the seeds from the harvest. So, unlike GM seeds, they don’t have to buy them every season. Moreover, GOTS takes care of hazardous chemicals in dyes/ chemicals as well processed textiles. Therefore, the products are safe for skin. The wastewater is treated before being discharged. Social issues like child labour, bonded labour, gender discrimination etc, are taken care of.” In fact, India happens to be the largest exporter of organic textiles. India is also the country with highest number of GOTS certified facilities.
GOTS accepts organic fibres are certified to organic production (farming) standards like NPOP in India. This includes natural fibres like cotton, silk, wool, linen and so on. “All kinds of new fibre/fabric like aloe vera, lotus, banana, milk, etc are claiming to be organic these days. One has to be careful with organic claims of these fibres/fabrics and must ask for valid ‘Transaction Certificates’,” he cautions.
India’s growing expanse of organic cotton
Gupta points out, effective storytelling by brands and retailers is important to send across the right message. “In India, lack of information about certifications and eco-labels for organic is an issue. Therefore, there are several self-claims in organic and sustainability areas. With increase in disposable income of middle class and growing awareness about sustainability, one is positive about organic textiles market in India.”
As far as promising categories are concerned, “Organic has huge scope in T-shirts, babywear and kids wear segments which are the promising right now. Buying GOTS certified organic means the product has a clean footprint for both environment and social domains. This means higher consumer satisfaction. While the product is safe for the consumer, it also comes from a cleaner process chain.”