Macy’s Goes Green – Apparel May Be The Next Big Eco-Entrepreneurial Opportunity

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macys.jpgMacy’s recent turn to the green side, highlights an underserved niche in the natural products arena – clothing.

Macy’s newest campaign called “Turn Over A New Leaf,” kicking off April 20 and running through April 27, is “designed to support, educate and inspire sustainability and eco-friendly practices in everyday life,” says the retailer.

This spells opportunity for eco-entrepreneurs. While organic food and natural cleaners have gained some mainstream appeal, as awareness of the benefits of natural living grows, consumers look to use organic and green products in all aspects of their life.

So where is the biggest opportunity? I see a couple of areas in which green entrepreneurs might focus.

As the first wave of “green mommies”, the ones who bought into the idea of the natural nursery, find themselves the parents of toddlers, they’ll be looking for organic and natural clothing for their, now somewhat larger, child. While natural and organic baby clothes and accessories are if not widely available, at least somewhat easy to find, clothing for older children is not. Baby organic often turns into toddler synthetic from the shear lack of options.

The challenge of course, for eco-entrepreneurs in this category is price. While parents often shop with safety rather than price in mind for baby (especially the first), once the financial realities of parenting hit, price plays a bigger role in their shopping behavior. Besides, baby showers and doting grandparents and friends often supply the first round of goods and play a lesser role as the child ages.

Green entrepreneurs focusing on producing higher priced children’s clothing can and will be able to more easily find a market for their products, but stores like Macy’s will be actively looking for moderate priced items to offer in their stores. Manufacturers who can address that need will find opportunities abounding in the next few years.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, natural clothing for women will also be in demand. There are several opportunities here. Yoga pants and clothing styles geared to the crunchy demographic will do well. Flowing skirts and tops, ethnic clothing and casually elegant garb will be in demand. Higher prices should not be as much of an issue here right now. Consumers often will not be able to afford an entire wardrobe of organic clothing but will purchase selected pieces so separates make sense here.

Linen and cotton clothing has always been a staple of the more affluent shopper. Naturally dyed and organic products will find a larger place in their dressy wardrobes, especially in the summer months. Natural versions of classic styles should do well.

The opportunity is there for eco-entrepreneurs in fashion but, keep in mind the demographic of the natural living consumer. While the temptation may be to go high fashion and junior sizing, remember the pocketbook and body type of the typical natural living shopper!

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