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NorthMist: India’s first 100% Organic Cotton Menswear Startup

Giving back to the society is a very common statement you hear when you ask an Entrepreneur- why do you want to start a company. With the same vision in mind, two young entrepreneurs Mr. Ajit Mazumdar (29) and Smrity Gupta (26) started a 100% Organic Cotton Clothing Menswear startup NorthMist.

NorthMist currently manufactures Round Neck T-shirt, Polo T-shirt, and full-sleeve T-shirts and sell them online via their own website NorthMist, Amazon, Flipkart, Rooted Objects, The BetterIndia shop. In the coming years, they are planning to manufacture other clothes like Denim, Joggers, Shirts, Pants etc.

What problem does NorthMist solve?

Fashion is the second largest polluting industry in the world. The current clothing industry is made up of artificial pigments and cotton made using pesticides and fertilizers which is harmful to our body and it also leads to hazardous environmental issues.
The existing fashion market doesn’t offer many varieties of sustainable clothing and the available options are very costly.
The conventional methods take 2,700 Litres Of Water To Make One T-Shirt.

Source: YourStory Media

How it works?

Taking the green route, NorthMist has tied up with a manufacturing unit in Tirupur, which sources organic and pesticide-free cotton from Gujarat and Maharashtra.

We trace the cotton from seed to skin. Every lot of cotton comes with a transaction certificate, ensuring it is grown fairly, with a minimal carbon footprint – without the use of toxic pesticides, fertilizers, and GMOs,” says Mazumdar.

After the cotton is spun into thread, they are dyed using natural coloring substances.

We do not use harmful substances like Azo in our products,” he adds

After a shirt is stitched, it is sent to the warehouse in Bengaluru. The brand has also replaced shiny plastic buttons with wooden ones that are sourced from Ahmadabad.

NorthMist was launched in July 2018 and till now they have sold 2000+ Clothes Across India. It has also received bulk orders from startups such as Observe.ai, which raised Series-A funds in August from Nexus Venture Partners, and YFret, a content merchandising platform.
“We have partnered with FedEx, Delhivery for shipment of our merchandise – said Mazumdar

Source: Yourstory Media

Funding

They started the venture with Rs. 5 Lakhs of their own money as Seed Fund. Recently they raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Prashant Kumar Jaiswal. Lucknow-based Prashant Kumar Jaiswal is a real estate investor and he owns a lingerie manufacturing unit in Delhi and wooden spoon facility in Lucknow itself.
The company is looking to raise Rs 2 crore to add new categories such as shirts and denim to its product line.

NorthMist Founders

Smrity Gupta,

she is a graduate from the National Institute of Fashion Technology, takes care of branding and design. She has also worked with and has had stints at major brands such as Arvind Lifestyle Brands Ltd and Shahi Export Pvt. Ltd.

Ajit Mazumdar

Before starting Northmist, Mazumdar worked with Bengaluru-based , an AI-powered visual marketing platform for e-commerce and retail brands, as the head of business development. AI is artificial intelligence. Mazumdar, who post-graduated in engineering from Veer Surendra Sai University of Technology, Odisha, has also worked at Infosys.

Northmist said that the Indian fashion apparel market for 2017-18 was pegged at $55 million. The menswear segment accounted for 41% of the market.
The size of the T-shirt market in India is estimated to be at Rs 5,400 crore and 83% of it is dominated by the men’s segment, according to the latest report from retail consulting firm Technopak.
Demand for branded shirts is on the rise for men as more males join the workforce.

Norms for dressing at the workplace changed over the review period and more allowance for casual dressing at the office largely influenced the consumption of casual shirts,” said a recent report by market research firm Euromonitor International.
Last year, Louis Philippe, Peter England, Van Heusen and Allen Solly from Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail led men’s apparel in 2017, the report said. Online retailers such as Amazon, Myntra, Flipkart and Jabong are also making a mark as customers order apparel online.
International brands such as H&M and Zara have added to the competition in the men’s apparel business in the country.

Product Price

A NorthMist t-shirt is priced in the range of Rs 799 and Rs 1,199, and its average cart size is Rs 1,000 with a 15 percent repeat rate.
NorthMist has organized pop-ups at WeWork co-working place in Bengaluru and Mumbai, Co-Works Bengaluru and Innov8. The company is also looking to close partnerships with co-working spaces. It is also tying up with cafeterias in Bengaluru to sell its products offline.
The brand is now working to solve problems such as antibacterial, wrinkle-free, and sweat-proof clothing, without using any harmful chemicals, and also design clothes for women and children. The company is further looking into sustainable fabrics like recycled fiber, Alpaca wool, and Tencel to further solve the existing problems of the society.

All about organic cotton (Source)

Organic cotton is cotton that is produced, and certified, according to organic agricultural standards. Of most importance is the fact that organic practices prohibit the use of ‘agrichemicals’ (artificial pesticides and fertilizers) along with genetically modified (GM) seed. Instead, organic cotton is grown as part of a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems, and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and locally adapted inputs in place of chemical inputs which can have an adverse effect on the farmer and the environment. Organic cotton production combines tradition, innovation, and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved.

  1. Is organic cotton better for me?
    There is no evidence of a health benefit in wearing/using textiles made with organic cotton. However, there are significant differences between organic and conventional cotton when it comes to how the cotton is grown (without toxic or persistent chemicals) – which impacts our land, water and the farmers who grow the cotton.
  2. How do I know if its organic?
    Brands and retailers marketing products as organic should be willing and able to provide proof of any product claims. Standards, verified by an independent third-party, are often the best way to provide that proof. There are a number of standards to support a number of claims. The Organic Content Standard (OCS) can be used to support organic content claims, and the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the most widely used standard to support comprehensive organic product claims from farm to finished garment.
  3. How does organic cotton help to save the environment?
    Organic cotton is grown in a way that uses methods and materials that are environment-friendly. A big effort in the organic movement is to use growing systems that replenish and maintain soil fertility and build biologically diverse agriculture. Organic cotton uses far less water too. The main benefit of organic cotton is that the crops aren’t treated with pesticides, insecticides, and Genetically Modified Organisms. Organic cotton helps in the preservation of the environment.
  4. How much of the world’s cotton is organic cotton?
    Based on data from the 2015/16 growing season, a total of 107,980 mt of organic cotton fiber was produced by 18 countries. This is compared to 21 million mt of “conventional” cotton – meaning that, at present, approximately 0.51% of global cotton production is organic.
  5. Are there other types of sustainable cotton besides organic?
    There are a number of other cotton sustainability initiatives, each with a slightly different approach, geography and focus area. For example, Fairtrade prioritizes trade, organizational structures, and community development; Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) focuses on livelihood improvement in Africa; and the Better Cotton Initiative aims to make the mainstream better. A more detailed description of some of the other cotton sustainability initiatives can be found in the Textile Exchange’s annual Organic Cotton Market Report.
  6. How sustainable is organic cotton?
    Cotton is relatively drought tolerant however it still requires a lot of water. Furthermore, cotton is highly vulnerable to pest attack in certain geographies and climates. In conventional systems, it is therefore treated with large quantities of chemical pesticides and irrigation water. A Life Cycle Assessment showed that by producing cotton organically, negative impacts on the environment are drastically reduced.
  7. How does organic cotton farming differ from conventional cotton?
    In conventional cotton production, synthetic inputs (such as pesticides and fertilizers) are used to maximize yields and to manage pests, weeds, and disease. These inputs are prohibited in organic production and, instead, farmers use a variety of natural techniques. These most commonly include, but are by no means limited to; crop rotation, intercropping, minimum tillage, animal and green manures, composting, and biodynamic herbal or mineral powders.
  8. Where is organic cotton grown?
    Figures for 2014/15 reveal that over 92.16% of global organic cotton production stems from just five countries. India is by far the largest producer, accounting for 66.90% of global production. China is the second largest global producer, accounting for 11.69% of production, followed by Turkey at 6.49%, Kyrgyzstan at 4.93% and the USA at 2.16%.
  9. What is the current trend in organic cotton market?
    After seeing a 10 percent rise in production of organic cotton in 2013/14, 2014/15 saw a slight downturn of 3.8 percent. However, the production looks set to increase again in 2017/18 when a number of in-conversion programs in India reach certification. Demand for organic cotton is without doubt growing and more and more brands have made commitments to use 100 percent organic cotton. This growth in demand will create opportunities to improve organic cotton supply chains and incentivize farmers to increase production.
  10. Is organic cotton better for your skin?
    Yes, organic cotton is definitely better than conventional cotton. Chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers are being used very intensively during the cotton grow cycle, and some residue always stays in the fabric fibers which is not the case with organic cotton. So, yes, the products made from organic cotton are better for human skin.
  11. What are the organic cotton standards?
    Independent inspection and certification legitimately back up organic claims. All farms and factories that undergo inspection and certification are independently checked against strict criteria meaning that shoppers can rest assured that products carrying the GOTS and/or Soil Association logos really are organic.
  12. Why does organic cotton cost more?
    It’s not that organic cotton “costs more” it’s that conventional cotton “costs too little” because it does not cover all its true costs. Health and environmental costs are often externalized meaning neither the consumer nor the retailer ‘pays’ for them, the farmer and the environment does. When a fair price is paid, it makes a huge difference to producers and only a small difference to the consumer.

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