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Talking Point | February 2017

Wellness clothing comes of age with AONTPL

Incorporated in July 2007, Advantage Organic Naturals Technologies Private Limited (AONTPL) was incubated in the prestigious IIT Delhi Campus, and owns three patents at USA, Europe & India and one more pending in India, “Method for dyeing a textile product using neem and holy basil extract”. The company has developed first-of-its-kind green proprietary textiles processing technology to produce organic herbal garments with skin fortifying and wellness properties using modern biotechnology applications and by bio-engineering natural/organic herbal ingredients only.

Rajiv Rai Sachdev, Managing Director of the company, speaking to ITJ Senior Sub Editor Karthik Muthuveeran explains the concept behind the brand, and the importance of ethical and sustainable fashion.

What was the inspiration behind Joy of Life? With some background, give us details of the development within the company.

My father who was a leading lawyer from Delhi suffered a paralytic stroke in the 1997.

At that point of time I was based in Mumbai but due to my father’s illness I had to relocate back to Delhi and started interacting with some of the top doctors and holistic therapists of the world to find a cure for my ailing father. Somewhere in 2002, I chanced upon this concept of clothing also known as Ayurvastra, i.e., a health garment. I further improvised and developed this concept of organic herbal lifestyle hygiene and wellness clothing and shared it with those doctors and holistic therapist. They all appreciated the concept of “Joy of Life” and that very moment I decided to register this trademark and file the patents for USA, Europe, China, Japan and India in 2003.

I belonged to electronic media and owned a production house and had no knowledge of textiles dyeing and processing. In a long journey in the course of my R&D, I visited some of the renowned textile clusters like Sanganer (Rajasthan) and Maheshwar (Madhya Pradesh) and met some of the renowned natural dyers and understood the lacunae in dyeing and processing methodology. I was convinced that I have to use modern nano-biotechnological interventions to overcome these shortcomings and did some initial trials in some big textile factories and then formed a new company by the name of Advantage Organic Naturals Technologies Pvt Ltd, which was incorporated in July 2007.

We got our company incubated in IIT Delhi on March 1, 2009 after a long wait. We developed dyeing and processing of garments infused with the goodness of neem, basil, apple cider vinegar (malic acid) and healing crystals, etc. with excellent anti-microbial properties and skin fortifying properties. Hindustan Times covered us in IIT Delhi and that article created rage in Europe and USA, and the European media themselves related our garments with banishing cellulite. We filed fresh patents in May 2010 in the USA, Europe and India. We bought land in May 2010 at Sadhupul (Himachal Pradesh) for our factory under ‘single-window clearance’ scheme of the State Government. We left the incubator in IIT Delhi, on May 31, 2012.

We received our US Patent in March 2014. We got our loan sanctioned from Bank of Baroda in September 2014, and eventually commenced construction in October 2014. We suffered extensive losses due to flash floods near our site on July 17, 2015. The flash floods derailed the project activities but we didn’t lose our heart and started again with full vigour. Despite all odds as a startup company, we worked with complete passion and dedication.

What was the trigger that allowed such a huge change in garment production? What is the importance of ethical and sustainable fashion to you?

Being from a media background, I did a lot of research into the history of clothing and found that the concept of clothing was evolved to safeguard a human body from outside invaders and to protect it from harsh weather conditions. The dyeing history available since 2600 BC mentions that till the year 1856 the dyes used were natural/herbal.

There was a big question attached: Does the present day garments really protect our body? As they are dyed and processed from harsh toxic synthetic chemicals, which might be ruining our immune system through skin pores. Then I decided to make truly sustainable and ethical “Joy of Life” range of organic herbal wellness garments without using any toxic synthetic chemicals and developed this technology in collaboration with the Textile Technology Department of IIT Delhi and got my company incubated in IIT Delhi for further tests and perfection.

The deteriorating climatic conditions worldwide due to global warming effect and wet textiles dyeing and processing being amongst the top industrial polluters as per the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). We need to focus our energies to find ways to produce our clothing more ethically and sustainably to save our environment and health.

The focus on waste and recycling has been in the consciousness of the consumer for a while now but why haven’t any major developments happened in this aspect?

Yes, as a consumer we are aware and conscious but as the stakeholders we lack that determination may be due to global competition and price sensitivity, moreover there is not much of collaborative initiative taken by our Government.

Describe your design philosophy – how do you balance quality and affordability?

We have never compromised on quality since our philosophy is that we are not selling only a conventional garment but a hygiene and wellness product and it has to be real value for money. We have done enough R&D to be completely indigenous. Even the machinery has been designed accordingly and moreover we produce our herbal ingredients in-house to save costs.

Can you provide details of your manufacturing process? What are the various technologies utilised?

We have our own indigenously designed herbal extraction plant and garments dyeing and processing unit. It is internationally patented (USA, Europe & India) green bio-processing technology wherein we use modern nano-biotechnological interventions at different stages Amazon targets big share of US apparel market of production.

The factory has dedicated ETP & STP of its own. Please give more details on this.

Despite being a Green and Low Carbon Footprint Technology, we have a dedicated ETP and STP as per the norms of Central Pollution Control Board of Government of India. Our effluents are only a mixture of water and herbs like neem, basil, turmeric, pomegranate skin, apple cider vinegar, etc. We use the treated water for our own plantation as it acts like nutrition for plantation purpose. And all the leftover solid waste of herbs is converted into biomass which again acts like good fertilizers.

Giving details of raw materials, tell us how they meet international standards.

Most of our raw materials are renewable and plant based, we have followed proper certification process as per the international standards and practices. We are confident that it should earn carbon credits also. We are already in the process of getting GOTS (Global Organic Textiles Standards) and Oeko-Tex certification.

What is your marketing strategy in domestic market and also in export market?

We firmly believe there is a definite need and surge for this kind of products both in domestic as well as international markets. The awareness for anything natural/organic/herbal/hygiene/wellness is on the all time rise and there is a visible surging demand for these kind of products due to global warming effects as the weather conditions are deteriorating worldwide which we will use to our advantage.

We will try to reach our customers through online and conventional distribution network. We are also open for white labeling/OEM business model and are also willing to license our technology/products to likeminded players on geographical basis.

The company has first-of-its-kind organic herbal lifestyle wellness garments manufacturing unit in Himachal Pradesh. Please give us more details on this. Are there any plans for expansion?

Yeah, this truly is state of the art and first of its kind organic herbal lifestyle wellness garments manufacturing unit in very green and serene environment in Himachal Pradesh also known as Dev Bhoomi. We have very ambitious plans for organic cultivation of the our raw materials in the virgin hills which are unused for any kind of agricultural activity and moreover many of the raw materials we use are either forest waste or food industry waste which is available in abundance here.

Hygiene and wellness (products) is a buzzword in the current scenario and especially in our case wherein without eating anything orally or using any kind of ointments, just by wearing the garments which anyway one has to wear, seems to have a very bright future.

Our technology and product innovation skills are ideally suited for women sanitary pads and tampons; diapers for adults and kids; burn and wound healing bandages; uniforms for harsh climatic conditions, etc. We have a very ambitious plans to have an integrated textile mill wherein we could manufacture all these products and we will have a top A-List celebrity brand ambassador on board, to promote our products extensively. And to achieve both these goals, we have started looking for good investors and venture capital companies.

Does the Government support organic farming and elaborate the organic farming adopted by your company.

We have not started any organic cultivation as yet but yes the State Government of Himachal Pradesh has always supported us in establishing our manufacturing facility.

How and what direction does sustainable fashion move in the future?

There is a conscious effort and trend towards more sustainable fashion globally as we don’t have any options left, else we will ourselves ruin our Mother Earth and we human beings for that matter.

For further information: www.advantagenature.com

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