Brands and retailers are responding to consumers’ heightened interest in ethical manufacturing and sustainable apparel with a variety of initiatives while new companies are emerging with these principles in mind.
Colored Organics, for example, a children’s clothing brand that manufactures and promotes organic, sweatshop-free apparel, sought to work exclusively with ethical and sustainable manufacturers right from the onset. The firm guarantees its organic, 100 percent sweatshop free products through its partnerships with Fair Trade and the Global Organic Textile Standard, a third-party organization that audits the company and its GOTS-certified factories. And it is a member of the Organic Trade Association.
Launched in 2014 with only four styles, Colored Organics quickly expanded after Target Corp. caught wind of the brand and expressed interest in selling its apparel. Soon after, Colored Organics’ requests for collection-based items quickly accelerated. Its upcoming fall collection will deliver a range of 60 styles, available up to a children’s size 12. Today, the firm has produced over 190 styles and boasts a 1,195 percent total revenue growth in the past 4 years.
“Colored Organics actually came about when my daughter was born and I wanted dress her in organic clothing, but I was unable to find any colorful styles,” founder Amanda Barthelemy told WWD. “So as a mom and a businesswoman, I saw my desire for colorful organic products as an opportunity to begin designing and manufacturing organic baby basics.
Barthelemy said Colored Organics started in her basement. “I wore all the hats,” she said. “I was managing customer service, order fulfillment [and] everyday operational tasks, along with being a full-time mom.”
After extensively researching global supply chains and ethical manufacturing facilities, Barthelemy selected India as Colored Organics’ manufacturing hub and soon after she began to cherry-pick GOTS-certified suppliers. Through annual factory audits conducted by GOTS, it is ensured that manufacturers are meeting the highest standards of ethical production; paying workers fair wages; maintaining a safe environment for employees, and confirmed that there is no child labor use in any part of the supply chain.
Colored Organics’ newest initiative, which is to donate 50 percent of profits from all its product sales to build homes for children in India, was launched with the brand’s summer collection. There are 25 million orphans in India alone, which is six times the population of Minnesota, the company said. Its goal is to build the first orphanage in early 2018.
Barthelemy, whose background is in marketing management, not fashion, said it took several years to understand the inner workings of design, manufacturing and importing, among other aspects of the industry. “[Our team likes] to create products that we would like to wear, so more mini-me designs, that maybe you would buy for yourself. The basis of our line is using sophisticated fabrics and elevated attention to detail. If you look at some of our products on our web site, you’ll see that if you open up the pocket there will be a fun, conversational print, like maybe mini sunglasses or a stripe. Maybe on the back of your hoodie or pullover, you’ll open it up and see some other fun detail.”
Barthelemy’s zeal for organic apparel also stemmed from a desire to advocate workers throughout the supply chain. “Another positive aspect about using organic material is that it protects the farmers and all of their communities from exposure to all these harmful chemicals. With every aspect of our production, we strive to protect not only our environment but people in the communities involved,” she said.
“Color can bring so much life,” Barthelemy said. “Our inspiration for 2017 was to use great textures, introduce woven fabrics and include color pop and conversational prints throughout. We want to create clothing that can be fun by including all of these interesting details that both mom and child will love.”
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