NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Whole Foods Market will soon give its die-hard shoppers of organic and gluten-free foods the chance to dress the part -- think T-shirts made of soy and pants tailored from hemp.
Marci Zaroff, founder and CEO of Boca Raton, Fl.-based "Under the Canopy," an online retailer of organic fiber fashion, told CNN/Money that her company's products will start selling at Whole Foods (Research)' new megastore slated to open in February in Austin.
The collection will feature apparel for women, men, babies as well as home bedding products. After the initial regional rollout, Zaroff hopes to expand into Whole Foods stores nationwide.
According to Zaroff, all of the items are made from natural fibers such as cotton, hemp, linen, wool and even a few innovative fabrics such as bamboo and soy. "Soy is a fabric of the future. It actually has a very silky feel," said Zaroff.
"The important thing for consumers to know is that none of the fibers used in our products is sprayed with harmful pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers," she added.
Ronnie Cummins, national director of the consumer advocate group Organic Consumers Association (OCA), said Whole Foods' foray into natural clothing could help propel the organic concept into mainstream America.
"Organic clothing today is a very small niche," said Cummins. "The exposure that a big chain like Whole Foods brings will certainly help."
In fiscal 2003, Whole Foods took in total sales of $3.1 billion. The company operates 163 stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
|"Under the Canopy" organic clothing and footwear includes apparel (such as the green halter dress) made entirely from soy.
Zaroff said she's interested in expanding her products to major spa chains nationwide. Major deals could also be in the works with some of the nation's biggest department store chains such as Macy's, Bloomingdales and upscale retailer Nordstrom.
But will consumers overlook steep pricing? For instance, the suggested retail price for an organic cotton T-shirt is about $28.
"We think our products are competitively priced with the conventional products out there based on factors like uniqueness, quality, style and design," Zaroff said.
Whole Foods spokeswoman Ashley Hawkins declined to offer details about the deal with "Under the Canopy" but said that the new clothing concept could possibly be expanded to a few other stores.