No Kid's Play!
Profiling Oil and Grease Apparels Pvt. Ltd., an innovative kids' wear brand
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.
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.
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.
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”.