Indian Terrain gets the Seal of Sustainability

Vinay Kamath | Updated on October 29, 2020

The Fairtrade stamp on its clothing range will appeal to consumers who shop their values

Apparel brand Indian Terrain has launched a line of T-shirts, eight each in men’s and boy’s wear, which will carry the Fairtrade stamp, a first for a high-street clothes retailer. Fairtrade is a seal of sustainability in the end-to-end production process of a product, ranging from agri goods to crafts. As the London-headquartered organisation explains on its website, “It is all about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world.”

To get this seal, companies are required to pay sustainable prices (which must never fall lower than the market price). Fairtrade believes this addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which tends to discriminate against the poorest, weakest producers.

For a burgeoning group of consumers who now shop their values, the seal is an easy way to identify a brand’s production practices. In the T-shirts launched by Indian Terrain, its provenance is known from the cotton fields in Surendar Nagar in Gujarat to the mills that spin the yarn, to the fabric-maker as well, according to its Managing Director, Charath Narasimhan. “The first step in the journey is we know that the fabric we receive is based on cotton from farmers who follow organic practices,” he says.

By March next, Indian Terrain expects to launch a range of shirts with the Fairtrade stamp, says Joint MD, Vidyuth Rajagopal. The products stamped such will be at a 10 per cent premium to other products, a small price to pay to follow sustainable practices, he says. In two to three years’ time, the brand expects at least 50 per cent of apparel in its stores to come from sustainable sources.

“The products we put out will speak the language of sustainability,” he says, adding that there’s a discerning consumer out there who will seek such products.

Earlier this year, a textile factory from Gujarat, PureCotz, received the Fairtrade textile standard certification. There is a growing movement in the garment sector to switch to fair textiles.

All down the supply chain

Abhishek Jani, Executive Director, Fairtrade India, says Indian Terrain is the first high street brand in India to get the Fairtrade Label for a collection that can already be found in its flagship stores in Chennai, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad. “The Indian Terrain leadership has committed to make 50 per cent of their collection from sustainable sources by 2022. We are already working towards a larger collection of its portfolio being sourced from Fairtrade-certified supply chains but that is only a part of the whole picture. This shows that the company is serious about mainstreaming sustainable fashion.”

Asked how Fairtrade monitors the sustainability process that a brand needs to follow to continue with the Fairtrade label, Jani says for the Fairtrade commitment made by the brand, they would need to source the products (which carry the Fairtrade Label) from a full-certified Fairtrade supply-chain. “This supply chain would be audited annually as per the Fairtrade standards by Flo-Cert — the global certifier for the Fairtrade International Network. Additionally, all businesses and organisations in the supply chain (from farmer organisations to the brand) also need to regularly report their purchases and sales on our technology platforms through which we can track that the sourcing and sales are happening,” explains Jani. Clearly, sustainability is becoming serious business.

Moving online

The past several months, ever since the pandemic set in, Indian Terrain has seen its online sales zooming as a percentage of sales – from 8-10 per cent of sales in the past 3-4 months, it expects online to contribute 20 per cent of sales by the end of the FY. Its web site for online sales was launched only on July 1.

Indian Terrain, says Joint MD Rajagopal, expects to build a robust direct to consumer (D2C) business through its web site and spread of stores. Earlier, the biggest driver was the sales through large department stores and chains or what it calls the wholesale trade.

Narasimhan points out that the Tier 2 towns are the ones that have come roaring back – from a contribution of 40 per cent Indian Terrain sales pre-pandemic, he expects it will now be at 60 per cent. Over the past few months, 20 new stores by franchisees have opened, all in smaller towns such as Namakkal, Kancheepuram, Siwan in Bihar, Angool in Orissa and so on.

“We expect another 20 more will open by the end of the current FY,” he says. As of now, the brand has 200 exclusive stores around the country and sells from over a 1,000 other counters.

Published on October 29, 2020

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