Shopping for toddlers is, more often than not, a frustrating exercise that is disguised as fun. Only when I had my child did I become aware of how difficult it is to buy clothing for tiny people. The number of retailers who sell cute but good quality clothes for children is embarrassingly low. And if you have a boy, rest assured that every time you take him to the playground, there will be a minimum of three other boys wearing the same T-shirt as him. Additionally, children outgrow their clothing at a lightning pace, making shopping for them not only exhausting, but expensive. Thankfully, things are changing. Today, there are a number of homegrown brands — most of them started by similarly frustrated mothers — that are changing the narrative when it comes to children’s clothing.
We scoured scores of them and highlight seven. These brands apply contemporary, fun and clever design sensibilities on locally-sourced fabrics to make kids’ clothing last longer and allow multiple styling options. It is clothing that will make grandma proud.
“Nothing beats natural fibres when it comes to comfort,” says founder Sirisha Gadepalli. “We only use 100% cotton, many being traditional fabrics like handwoven ikats and indigo block prints. Our buttons are also wooden, coconut shell or shell.” Sustainability is at the core of Neemboo’s manufacturing process, and they are focussed on minimal waste generation. “We are constantly finding ways to upcycle fabric scrap into accessories like hair clips and covers for sunglasses,” says Gadepalli, who recently launched simple shirts for boys. She is also working on a festive edit which will be made only from cotton. “The market is flooded with synthetics and sequins, but we strongly feel that pure, simple beauty needs none of that.” From ₹699 onwards. Details: neemboo.in
If you are looking for “100% soft, luxury cotton” that has “experiential and educational” elements, head here. One of their night suits, for example, has a dinosaur print with meanings of their names, to encourage conversations between parents and children. Founder and CEO, Diksha Kaur, says, “Each collection and print has its own DNA and provides a special experience to bring a sense of wonder and delight to both parents and children.” Their clothes are delivered in boxes, and bags can be coloured in, providing children with “a mixed media learning experience”. Sustainability is also a founding value, where the packaging is either recycled or can be upcycled. From ₹2,800 onwards. Details: oriorikids.com WhatsApp: 8800967264
When Sanjana James had a baby boy, she was shocked at the (lack of) clothing options. “Many mothers would often comment that they wanted a girl because it is more fun to dress them up,” she says. A graduate of NIFT, James had dabbled in experimental menswear during her studies, which led her to launch MiniMen. One of the biggest challenges she encounters with her line of boys clothing is having to break stereotypes on what is “appropriate” for them. So apart from the usual race car and anchor motifs, you will find tropical fruits and bird prints on the shirts. For the upcoming festive season, silk waistcoats are paired with ikat shirts and matching bow ties. They also make dapper “birthday sets” of silk shirts with coordinating waistcoats and bowties; twinning sets for the whole family; and a selection of fun, pint-sized suspenders. From ₹650 onwards. Details: minimen.in
Indie Project Store
Joining the list of mothers who started their own line of clothing is Shilpi Sharma. She was unable to find cotton outfits that were locally made or used traditional fabrics. The brands that did, she says, “catered to international clients or were too pricey”. Sharma’s brand creates clothing using Indian fabrics like dabu, ikat, ajrakh, kalamkari and handloom cotton. Their USP is the contemporary twists they add to conventional fabrics: like jumpsuits in ikat and wrap dresses in Mangalgiri cotton. “Our design approach is minimalist and gender-neutral,” says Sharma, adding that regular clients “keep our clothes for younger siblings, regardless of gender”. This contributes to the brand’s sustainable values. From ₹449 onwards. Details: indieprojectstore.com
Former stylist and writer at Elle India , Verona Damani, began by designing clothes for her baby niece. Seeing the immense potential of the kidswear market, she enrolled herself in a Fashion Business course at Instituto Marangoni in Mumbai, then started the eponymous baby and kidswear brand. There is a “distinct European influence”: think white dresses, ruffled jumpsuits and tops with tiny florals. “We cater to an age group that outgrow their clothes in the blink of an eye,” says Damani. She is mindful of these needs at the design stage, including details like adjustable straps and waistlines. “Anything that can give them more wear and value for the money spent,” she says. From ₹1,090 onwards. Details: veronna.in
Love The World Today
Sisters Dipna Darnayani and Dipti Ahuja created their brand after learning about the appalling effects of fast fashion on the planet. “We work with organic cottons or handwoven textiles made by weavers across the country,” says Ahuja, adding, “Our dyes are low impact on the environment. We work with ethical practices and ensure all those involved in creating an LTWT garment are paid and treated well.” They have won the Best Environmentally Conscious Brand from Kidsstoppress, an Indian parenting portal, three times in a row. Their latest collection, The Earth Laughs in Flowers , is a line of festive outfits in red, coral, purple and mustard shades of Maheshwari silk-cotton, handwoven in Madhya Pradesh. It even includes matching saris for the mums. From ₹910 onwards. Details: lovetheworldtoday.in; available at Le Mill (Mumbai), Sacha’s Shop (Goa), Angadi Heritage (Bengaluru), Peekaboo Patterns (Chennai)
When Navdeep Kaur, founder of Aagghhoo, had her first born, she could not find clothing that was designed around a newborn’s ergonomic and emotive needs. Her brand name was inspired by the gurgling sounds that babies make, and features a variety of clothing and accessories crafted specifically for newborns. Parents can buy gender-neutral jhablas, rompers, pants, wraps and a range of accessories like mustard pillows, booties, blankets, hats and napkins in natural, soft, dye-free, chemical-free and sustainably sourced cottons and wools. “We believe that there exists a group of conscious, free-thinking parents who want to bring their babies into a world with a tolerant, sustainable value system,” says Kaur. From ₹499 onwards. Details: aagghhoo.com