No Kid's Play!

Pro­fil­ing Oil and Grease Ap­par­els Pvt. Ltd., an in­no­va­tive kids' wear brand

Apparel - - Contents December 2014 -

The kids’ mar­ket seg­ment in the In­dian ap­parel mar­ket is no child’s play! As it grows at an es­ti­mated 10 per cent rate an­nu­ally, man­u­fac­tur­ers and re­tail­ers of kids’ ap­parel have sensed its po­ten­tial and stepped into it. Fully aware of the op­por­tu­ni­ties of­fered by this seg­ment is Mumbai-based Oil and Grease Ap­par­els Pvt. Ltd. Started in 2004, the brand has seen a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in its port­fo­lio, vol­ume of pro­duc­tion and turnover in the past decade.

SENS­ING PO­TEN­TIAL

It was while work­ing as a se­nior de­signer with kids’ wear brand Gini & Jony (2002-2004), that Rat­nesh Ba­ro­nia re­alised the po­ten­tial of de­sign­ing ap­parel for chil­dren, both from the cre­ative as­pect as well as the de­mand for de­signer chil­dren’s ap­parel. A post­grad­u­ate from the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Fash­ion Tech­nol­ogy, Mumbai, Mr Ba­ro­nia had spe­cialised in Knitwear De­sign dur­ing his Masters pro­gramme and this study of­fered him a foun­da­tion for de­sign­ing for kids. Soon after the course, he joined Gini & Jony, and the two-year ex­pe­ri­ence of de­sign­ing a range of ap­parel honed his cre­ativ­ity as well as of­fered him an in­sight into the re­quire­ments of the kids’ ap­parel mar­ket seg­ment.

BRAND AWARE­NESS

Even in the early 2000s, Ba­ro­nia ob­served an in­creas­ing aware­ness of branded kids’ wear. “Un­like the ear­lier gen­er­a­tion, the present gen­er­a­tion of kids and their par­ents are aware of fash­ion and ap­parel brands. This is due to the role of the me­dia, in­crease in dis­pos­able in­come, in­crease in monthly spend­ing on qual­ity ap­parel, kids want­ing to have a say in their clothes and par­ents want­ing to pam­per them. They go in for branded ap­parel ac­cord­ing to their bud­get. All th­ese fac­tors have fu­elled the growth of the kids’ ap­parel mar­ket,” says Mr Ba­ro­nia.

START­ING A BRAND

Keen to start a company which would showcase his de­signs, Ba­ro­nia founded Oil and Grease Ap­par­els Pvt. Ltd. While go­ing through a cat­a­logue on den­ims, he came across the name of a denim treat­ment called ‘oil and grease.’

He liked the name as it had a ca­sual feel to it, just like the ap­parel he wished to de­sign. Ba­ro­nia checked to see if the name had been regis­tered, and as it had not, he regis­tered it as his brand. The next step was think­ing of a tag line. He thought of ‘Lu­bri­cat­ing Fash­ion,’ be­cause oil and grease work as lu­bri­cants and he wished to high­light his brand as the fa­cil­i­ta­tor of fash­ion. In this way,

Oil and Grease Ap­par­els Pvt. Ltd. was born and Ba­ro­nia took on the role of the Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor and De­sign Head.

STEP BY STEP

Rat­nesh Ba­ro­nia man­u­fac­tures gar­ments at an 8000 sq. ft. unit at Ansa In­dus­trial Es­tate, And­heri (East), Mumbai, and small jobs of stitch­ing and em­bel­lish­ing are car­ried out at small units in dif­fer­ent parts of the city. The brand made its launch by pro­duc­ing only bot­toms for boys from the age group of 1-16 years. Once the de­mand for the brand picked up, the dis­trib­u­tors and the re­tail net­work fell into place and the sup­pli­ers were es­tab­lished. The company grad­u­ally added to the prod­uct port­fo­lio by man­u­fac­tur­ing shirts, t-shirts, shorts, den­ims and jack­ets. There are ten sizes in shirts and twelve in bot­toms. Fab­rics are sourced from sup­pli­ers in Mumbai, over­seas as well as from mills which man­u­fac­ture cus­tomised fab­ric for them. Cot­ton is used for boys’ wear. The present pro­duc­tion is

UN­LIKE THE EAR­LIER GEN­ER­A­TION, THE PRESENT GEN­ER­A­TION OF KIDS AND THEIR PAR­ENTS ARE AWARE OF FASH­ION AND AP­PAREL BRANDS. THIS IS DUE TO THE ROLE OF THE ME­DIA, IN­CREASE IN DIS­POS­ABLE IN­COME, IN­CREASE IN MONTHLY SPEND­ING ON QUAL­ITY AP­PAREL, ETC.

15,000 gar­ments per month. The an­nual turnover is

R10 crore, and the company is grow­ing at the rate of 15 per cent per an­num.

AN EYE ON DE­SIGN

Oil and Grease Ap­par­els are de­signed on the lines of Euro­pean styles. The brand has an in-house de­sign stu­dio. Ba­ro­nia guides the de­sign­ers and they keep in touch with in­ter­na­tional trends as well as visit gar­ment fairs in Turkey and China which helps them to keep them in touch with de­vel­op­ments in dif­fer­ent parts of the world. “Th­ese trends only serve as sources of in­for­ma­tion and in­spi­ra­tion as In­dian cli­matic con­di­tions be­ing dif­fer­ent, cot­ton is largely used for our gar­ments. Fur­ther, In­di­ans pre­fer brighter colours rather than pas­tel shades as are pre­dom­i­nant in Europe.” Mr Ba­ro­nia stresses that de­sign is the base of kids’ ap­parel, go­ing on to add that there can be no kids’ wear with­out a proper de­sign sense. Once a de­sign is fi­nalised, a sam­ple is made and it is shown to re­tail­ers. Based on the feed­back, the de­sign may un­dergo a change and the gar­ment is then pro­duced and launched. “De­sign­ing gar­ments for chil­dren is chal­leng­ing and sat­is­fy­ing. One has to blend the cre­ative with the com­mer­cial. The two main fac­tors of kids’ wear de­sign are com­fort and qual­ity and then the fash­ion el­e­ment lifts the de­sign. Good cuts and good fab­rics make for men’s wear and women’s wear; how­ever, kids’ wear ab­so­lutely re­quires good cuts, good fab­rics as well as good de­signs. One can­not get away by sim­ply stitch­ing gar­ments for kids with­out a good de­sign. De­sign­ers of kids’ ap­parel have to un­der­stand the psy­chol­ogy of chil­dren apart from be­ing aware of the craft of mak­ing gar­ments, mar­ket trends and mar­ket re­quire­ments. They need to have good taste. Fur­ther, skilled tai­lors are re­quired for stitch­ing kids’ ap­parel, and stitch­ing small sizes is dif­fi­cult. Kids love den­ims and we are masters in den­ims.” The gar­ments bear em­bel­lish­ments and ac­ces­sories, for ex­am­ple, the boys’ wear den­ims have chains, buck­les, and girls’ wear has lace and em­broi­dery. Be­cause chil­dren grow fast, the ap­parel is de­signed to al­low for an in­crease in height and built, the bot­toms hav­ing elas­tic waists as well as a mar­gin of two inches on the length.

A PAN IN­DIA PRES­ENCE

Oil and Grease has 14 dis­trib­u­tors and ap­parel is avail­able at 450 MBOs across the coun­try. The brand is avail­able on on­line por­tals, namely, Snapdeal, flip­kart, Homestop18 and G3­fash­ions. Keep­ing the qual­ity of fab­rics, ac­ces­sories and em­bel­lish­ments in mind on the one hand, and the fact that kids out­grow clothes very fast on the other, the price range has been kept rea­son­able;

R600 on­wards for t-shirts, shirts and shorts, R800 on­wards for denim bot­toms and R1000 on­wards for jack­ets.

Fu­ture Plans

Oil and Grease in­tro­duces new de­signs monthly and presents two main col­lec­tions ev­ery year, sum­mer and win­ter. New de­signs in­cor­po­rate new colours, prints and em­bel­lish­ments as well as new fab­rics. Re­cent de­signs showcase jog den­ims, knit­ted

DE­SIGN­ING GAR­MENTS FOR KIDS IS CHAL­LENG­ING AND SAT­IS­FY­ING. ONE HAS TO BLEND THE CRE­ATIVE WITH THE COM­MER­CIAL.

den­ims and ly­cra t-shirts that are com­fort­able to wear and do not re­quire iron­ing. The brand is also aim­ing to in­crease pro­duc­tion to 20,000 pieces per month. Oil and Grease is set to launch a col­lec­tion for girls from the age group of 1 to 16 years in sum­mer 2015, the de­signs are ready and or­ders are com­ing in. The girls’ wear prod­uct range in­cludes bot­toms, t-shirts, tops, skirts, pedal push­ers and shorts. Mr Ba­ro­nia says de­sign­ing for girls is an en­tirely dif­fer­ent world as there are a lot of gar­ments to be de­signed like tu­nics, tops, bot­toms, jeans, palaz­zos, shorts, car­gos. Fur­ther­more, there are lots of styles within each gar­ment type, for ex­am­ple, type of necks, sleeves, col­lars, em­bel­lish­ments. A play of dif­fer­ent fab­rics for ap­parel, like cot­ton-polyester and ly­cra blends and a choice of em­bel­lish­ment op­tions from em­broi­dery to lace, in­clud­ing lace on den­ims, in­creases the va­ri­ety in girls’ wear de­signs

Sus­tain­ing the Brand

As there is im­mense op­por­tu­nity in the kids’ ap­parel seg­ment, it has seen the pres­ence of many play­ers. Thus, there are a range of gar­ments; branded and un­branded, lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional, across dif­fer­ent price points. “There is a lot of com­pe­ti­tion in the kids’ ap­parel mar­ket. There are many small play­ers as well, as it is not dif­fi­cult to en­ter the mar­ket. One can start a business with a R40- 50 lakh cap­i­tal. How­ever, while it is a good op­por­tu­nity, it is also a chal­lenge to sus­tain the business. At Oil and Grease, we have a deep un­der­stand­ing of what kids want, how they think, and what the re­quire­ments of kids ap­parel are. At the end of the day, we are driven by pas­sion and this shows in our fin­ished gar­ments and in the suc­cess of our brand”.

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