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Designer tags on kiddie clothes

23-December-2005
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Designer tags on kiddie clothes

Designer Savio Jon becomes the first Indian designer to spot the demand for kidswear in India

Four giggly little girls in floaty summer dresses and pleated denim skirts with matching tops led the posse of female models down the ramp at the opening of Amara, a brand-new designer fashion store in Mumbai.

Along with their precocious antics, their clothes designed by Goa-based fashion designer Savio Jon got attention too. With that fashion show, Jon became the first Indian designer to officially launch a line of designer childrens’ clothing.

“I have always stitched clothes for my nieces and nephews and had been toying with the idea of starting my own kids line,” says Jon. His 20-piece “capsule” collection of kiddie wear was a hit with little models who fought over what to wear.

“I am tired of seeing pretentious-looking, pouffy, synthetic clothing options for kids; what happened to good old cotton and simplicity?” he questions. He may be talking simplicity, but at Rs 1,600 for an appliqued jacket, how accessible is his label?

“Costing”, says Jon, “is the biggest put-off for designers wanting to experiment with this line.” Although fabric consumption is much less, workmanship costs of apparel for adults and kids are almost the same. Jon is confident that if a demand emerges, he will build an entire infrastructure specifically geared to the segment. “Ultimately”, he says, “volumes will determine my costing.”

Jon’s timing though, couldn’t be better; the children’s apparel segment is reportedly on a 20 per cent year-on-year growth and local brands are busy tapping the kidswear market. The Rs 100 crore company Gini and Jony Apparel will announce its IPO by the end of the current fiscal year to raise Rs 75 crore for funding its manufacturing and retail expansion plans.

“We plan to increase the number of our exclusive brand outlets from the existing 19 to 47 by the end of 2006. We’re looking at a turnover of Rs 500 crore within the next five years”, says Jewellyn Alvares, senior manager (advertising & brand imaging), Gini and Jony Apparel.

Similarly, Ruff Kids expects revenues worth Rs 90 crore in this fiscal year and will expand from three exclusive stores to 20 by 2006.

Last month, Tommy Hilfiger became the first Western designer brand to test its street cred with Indian kids, launching Tommy Kids across six stores.

According to a spokesperson for Arvind Murjani Brands, the Tommy Hilfiger licensee in India, “It was introduced to meet the demand for kidswear from our customers.”

Non-traditional apparel manufacturers like Disney and toy manufacturers Mattel are gung-ho about the apparel market. Last month, Disney launched a range of apparel and fashion accessories to be manufactured and marketed by Indus Clothing Ltd that will launch 20 Disney stores in 2006-07 in India. Mattel is also hoping its Barbie apparel will be a significant revenue driver for the brand.

Nine-year-old Nihika twirls the ends of her skirt and says, “I would love to wear Savio’s clothes”. It is evident she, like other children today, understands the perceived power of a designer dress. The dress is more than what her mother would like to pay, but perhaps, if she wants it badly enough...

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