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Mother Earth cashes on rise in organic fashion awareness
Aug '12
“Ethics can only be an add-on; it cannot be the unique selling proposition (USP). The USP has to be exactly what it says it is, the intrinsic perceived value of the product has to appear more than competitors, which is our strategy to increase awareness”, says a top official of an Indian ethical fashion retail chain.

Consumer awareness and demand for organic fashion or ethical apparels seems to be slowly but surely picking up in India. Mother Earth – an ethical clothing, accessories, linens and home textiles retail chain group hopes to reach Rs one billion in turnover soon. Another brand Fabindia has reached revenues of Rs five billion and is considered one of the most profitable retailers in India.

Aspiring to hike its revenues five-fold, Mother Earth has ambitious plans to take its store count from just 8 outlets currently to around 100 outlets in the next few years. Mother Earth will also be made available in multi-brand and large format stores (LFS) like Shoppers Stop and Lifestyle.

While on one hand, L. Capital the private equity arm of the worlds largest luxury goods group – LVMH has picked up a 8 percent stake in Fabindia, Kishore Biyani also called the ‘Badshah of Indian retail’ led - Futures Ventures has picked a majority stake in Mother Earth. This is a pointer to the exciting growth phase, ethical fashion is witnessing in India.

Other Indian apparel brands which have moved in to the eco-friendly clothing space are Shoppers Stop, ColorPlus, Anita Dongre, I Wear Me, Do U Speak Green and No Nasties. Global garment brands like M&S, Duke, Nike & Van Heusen too have introduced their green range in India, but most of these companies have not used this as a differentiator.

Ethical fashion while along with preventing damage to the environment, also helps generate additional incomes for the marginalized sections of society like, cotton farmers, handloom workers and handicraft artisans. Mother Earth reaches out to over 20,000 women and is also working on a project to build economies of scale with around 15,000 crochet artisans.

“We work with fabric and handloom producers and the conversion is done with Self Help Group (SHG) enterprises that we incubate.  Our efforts create a model of ethical buying as our producers are not just paid well, along with their social benefits being taken care of, but in addition they are being structured into larger institutions enabling equity and long term profit sharing, says Neelam Chibber – MD and co-founder of Mother Earth. 

Seth Petchers, CEO of ‘Shop For Change - Fair Trade’, a not-for-profit body that certify products on ethical standards adds, “When companies sign on to work with Shop for Change they give poor farmers opportunities to sell through their farmer organizations in a way that, it guarantee higher incomes and a range of other benefits like training to reduce production costs and increase productivity. 

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