With the growing population and booming middle class, kids’ wear and babywear market is in a great form in India. As per data from Technopak Analysis, the Indian apparel market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9% b/w 2013 & 2023. In 2013, kid swear market was at USD 8.3 billion, which contributed 20% of India’s apparel market. This share expected to increase to 22% by 2023.
“Children Baby and Maternity Expo (CBME 2019) had several GOTS certified exhibitors. The standard includes – use of minimum 70% organic fibres; final product testing for consumer safety; quality parameters like colour fastness and shrinkage, etc. GOTS also meets legal requirements related to chemical testing of the products.”
Despite the opportunities at hand, apparel and home textiles meant for babies have their own challenges. Besides the expectations related to fashion, trends and pricing, there are much stringent legal compliance and private conformance norms for them. Some of the examples are
• Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA)
• Rapid Exchange of Information System (RAPEX)
• EN 71
CPSIA was signed law in 2008 in the United States. It specifically targets children’s products, which the act defines as any product designed or intended primarily for use by children 12 years of age or younger. The provisions include:
• Lead and lead paint: Lead content in surface coatings and paint is limited to 90 ppm.
• Phthalates: Phthalates limited at concentration level of 0.1% individually.
• Toy safety standard: All toys designed or intended primarily for children 12 years of age and younger must comply with all mandatory sections of the toy safety standard ASTM F963-11.
• Third-party testing and certification: U.S. manufacturers and importers must test and certify the consumer product to obtain Children’s Product Certificate (CPC) and General Certificate of Conformity (GCC).
RAPEX is an EU law to protect the consumers. It includes mechanical and chemical norms. It evaluates risk and risk level. For example, the presence of any drawstrings or functional cords in the head, neck or upper chest on garments intended for young children always implies a serious risk. Such product might be notified to be withdrawn from the market.
EN 71 is the European standard that specifies safety requirements for toys. Compliance with the standard is legally required for all toys sold in the European Union. Excerpts from the categories are:
• EN 71-1: Mechanical and physical properties
• EN 71-2: Flammability
• EN 71-3: Specification for migration of certain elements
EN 71-3 has been updated and the revised one will come into force on 18th November 2019. This document specifies requirements and test methods for the migration of heavy metals and toxic elements such as aluminium, antimony, arsenic, barium, boron, cadmium, Chromium (III), Chromium (VI), cobalt, copper, lead, manganese, mercury, nickel, selenium, strontium, tin, organic tin and zinc.
In India, there are norms for import of toys, but there are no specific consumer safety laws for apparel and home textiles being produced / sold for babies and kids.
Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), which is world’s leading standard for processing of organic fibres is becoming increasingly popular for domestic sales of kidswear.
GOTS Certified products have a clean footprint. All processing facilities must have functional wastewater treatment plants as well as social compliance in place. Therefore, the customer can be sure that any kind of child labour or forced labour was not used in making those products.
Consumer Survey done by Neilson in 2015 confirmed that consumers are ready to pay more for sustainable products. 69% respondents were ready to pay more for products from fresh, natural, organic ingredients while 53% respondents were willing to pay a premium for products by brands with community commitment.
Indian exporters and domestic players can capture this growing market.