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Organic cotton menswear firm Northmist raises angel funding
Northmist co-founders Smrity Gupta and Arijit Mazumdar

Northmist Pvt. Ltd, an online organic cotton menswear company, has raised an undisclosed amount from an angel investor, a top executive told VCCircle.

Lucknow-based Prashant Jaiswal has invested in Northmist, said Arijit Mazumdar, founder and chief executive of the company. This is the first online investment of Jaiswal, who owns a lingerie manufacturing unit in Delhi and a wooden spoon facility in Lucknow. He invests in real estate and has backed three startups in the retail space.

Northmist, which was launched in July by Mazumdar and Smrity Gupta, is currently making and selling men's polo and round neck T-shirts through its website. The company is involved in the entire process, from sourcing organic cotton seeds to ensuring they are grown in good conditions to packaging the finished product in recyclable paper. It also does not use colouring substances in its products.

The company is looking to raise Rs 2 crore to add new categories such as shirts and denims to its product line, said Mazumdar.

The firm claims that each of its eco-friendly T-shirts saves 1,750 glasses of drinking water, 165 grammes of pesticides, 60 watts of power for an hour and an average of one kilometre car drive.

Mazumdar said the company has sold over 400 T-shirts so far. 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.

The company also plans to work on other sustainable materials like bamboo fabric, hemp, recycled fabric and recycled plastic, said co-founder Gupta.  

Before starting Northmist, Mazumdar worked with Bengaluru-based Artifacia, 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.

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

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.

Deals in the broader space

A number of companies in the broader fashion brand have raised funding in the past few months.

In August, Ahmedabad-based Nimana Fashions Pvt. Ltd, which runs online womenswear brand Enakshi, raised Rs 80 lakh (about $114,000) seed funds from two undisclosed Gujarat-based investors.

In June, womenswear e-tailer eShakti raised Rs 75 crore ($10.1 million) in fresh funding from private equity firm Paragon Partners.

In March, online fashion marketplace Fynd closed its Series C round of funding led by tech giant Google.

TCNS Clothing Co. Ltd, which owns the W brand of womenswear, had listed itself on stock markets in July, which saw its US-based private equity investor TA Associates make a partial exit.

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