Why Every Girl Should Know About Anita Dongre

Jenn Greenleaf

Anita Dongre made her earliest design vision an international sensation. Following her 1984 graduation from SNDT College with a degree in fashion design, Dongre knew creating a house devoted to fashion influenced by her youth was something she wanted to do.

Looking at Anita's backstory, you'll learn she's from Jaipur and found her way to Mumbai. Her career began in her bedroom with two sewing machines. Before long, she was in America with four labels to her name, two stores, and dressing the likes of Kate Middleton and Beyoncé. The House of Anita Dongre, initially called AND Designs India Ltd., launched in 1995. She epitomizes starting with a dream and turning it into real-world achievements. In 2017, she received the "Designer of the Year" award from Vogue India.

You'll find her designs under four labels: AND, Global Desi, Grassroot, and Pinkcity. AND is a western-wear brand available in 125 outlets, while Global Desi is boho chic and may be found in 138 outlets. Grassroot is Anita's youngest line, focusing on sustainable luxury, with four outlets. You'll find handcrafted gold jadau jewelry as well as menswear under the Pinkcity brand in 12 standalone outlets. There are also flagship stores in New York's Soho and Quatre Bornes, Mauritius.

In addition to building her fashion empire, Anita Dongre is well known in philanthropic circles for spearheading the fight for equal treatment and pay for the village women in India who stitch fashion clothing. About 100 miles from Mumbai, you'll find the village of Charoti, which Dongre adopted. There, she supports and trains village women on "basic stitching, ironing, and pattern cutting to create outfits and accessories, empowering them to earn a livelihood for themselves."

Dongre pulls her inspiration from Indian culture, craftsmanship, and heritage. She loves working with eco-friendly textiles, Indian handloom fabric, and textile weaves. "Everything I create has to be very feminine, comfortable, and classic. So for me, the whole concept that a strong woman should wear masculine clothes is wrong. Women are women. They should dress like women. We are not here to compete with men. Our strength is inside us," Anita told The Economic Times.

Designing her clothing is all about who's wearing the brand, and not vice versa. Her designs aren't boisterous—they're subtle. It’s her goal to marry her two passions together in her designs: sustainability and reviving Indian textile handicraft. This is evident in some of her most recent bridal collections, like “Summer Reverie."

In 2018, Dongre took her passion for sustainability further by becoming a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, a global alliance for the apparel, footwear, and textile industries promoting sustainable processes for production. Her "green efforts" didn't begin there, though. In 2015, her company headquarters relocated to Rabale, in the planned city of Navi Mumbai, on land had she purchased six years earlier. Her entire green and sustainable lifestyle shift has therefore been a process, taking place over the past decade and continuing into the future.