“You have to Dream before your dreams can come true.” – A.P.J Abdul Kalam
As kids, we have a hundred dreams or you may say desires! A dream to become a model, a pilot, a doctor, a musician or say, a Fashion Designer. But it is truly said, that before we realize our hobbies/ interests, it is our elders who see our abilities and predict our future. This is exactly the story of India’s most renowned Fashion Designer and entrepreneur, Anita Dongre.
Brought up in a culturally and traditionally rich family which loved its roots, Anita Dongre grew up in a closely knitted family. Every summer, she along with her extended family would visit her grandparents’ home in Jaipur where she would spend hours wandering through the old architectural builds from the 16th century, the small sidewalks where local artisans would sell their colorful artworks. She would return every summer, year after year to Jaipur, designing lac bangles, dupattas and shoes with the help of the local artisans. And before she realized her designing abilities, it was these artisans who knew she would become a successful designer. But can you really achieve success without struggles? No!
Women entrepreneurs continue to face challenges even today, as they did earlier. Coming from a conservative family, where women were considered just as homemakers, and had never thought of pursuing professional careers outside home, Anita was determined to become a fashion designer. She started a small workshop in her bedroom balcony along with her sister and designed clothes for her friends and local boutiques. Seeing her unrelenting passion, her father who initially didn’t support her, finally gave in and helped her start a small factory of her own. It was her love for designing and her sheer determination that made her achieve her dreams and success. But more than her awards and recognition, Anita Dongre cherishes small memories that will forever hold a special place in her heart. One such moment was when she watched her artisans close the show at the Lakme Fashion Week for her brand – Grassroot. Seeing her artisans stand on the ramp, was truly rewarding and a moment of pride she never experienced before.
Anita Dongre’s Trademark Designs and Fashion Plagiarism
The Indian Fashion Industry is evolving each day, with Indian designs getting popular all across the world. Coping up with trends, every designer should have their own design aesthetic that makes them stand out. You need a fresh mind to focus on your work and make your designs stand out from the others. And to focus on her work with a fresh attitude, Anita starts her day with a long refreshing walk. She loves being in the midst of nature, and is grateful that she gets to work from a design space that is a complete dream. Her workspace is eco-friendly and green which is nestled against green hills with a picturesque view. She also enjoys listening to music and absolutely cherishes her play time with her dogs that she has adopted at work.
But to make your designs known, you need a trademark pattern that gives recognition to your designs. Mrs Dongre says, “I love all things Indian, and being inspired by Rajasthan, my collection sees the use of lots of Indian weaves and techniques—with gotapatti being our signature element. My dream has always been to enable access to the modern Indian woman with a touch of tradition.” And with the help of e-commerce websites, designers can reach across the globe to international audiences. This is one of the main reasons why designers try to innovate new patterns and designs without losing the traditional touch in their work. But, if internet and e-commerce acts as a boon for designers, it also leads to fashion plagiarism which is difficult to fight. It hurts to see small fashion houses churn multiple copies of garments that have otherwise taken several months to design and produce. Only a proper system can curb such plagiarism.
Anita Dongre on Women Empowerment
Women today, don’t need to be empowered! They have the power in them to run a house, a city and a country. All they need is to just believe in themselves! For Anita Dongre, a very important part of empowering women is economic empowerment. The minute a woman is economically empowered, she is independent and that’s a complete game changer. Anita has around 3000 people on her payroll and then indirectly employs around 15,000. A large part of her work force comprises women and they have about 60 per cent women at the back end alone. That is also exactly what ‘Grassroot’ is all about; She sees the sense of pride women get when they start making money; they don’t need to give justifications to their husband when they are buying something. They have tasted freedom, and it’s so important for a woman to have money that’s her own. It’s a total game changer in the society.
The SS’18 Collection – Songs of Summer
Talking about her recent couture’s and collections, Mrs Dongre states, “My SS’18 collection, ‘Songs of Summer’ is a celebration of a wedding ideally set in a forest or a beautiful garden blooming with summer flowers. Our motifs are floral and botanical with birds (we love). Summer is the time to wear easy breezy silhouettes; nothing that should bog you down even if you are the bride or attending a friend’s wedding. In this collection you can find wrap tops, sheer skirts, loose palazzo pants, draped saris in cool fabrics like modal, light weight handwoven silks and cottons in Benares with customized flower motifs. You will also find light hand embroidery in beautiful pastels.”
Today, fashion is an outlet to express confidence and individuality. It is no more about pleasing others. Giving fashion tips to the young hearts today, Anita Dongre has just one belief, “Being comfortable and feeling good in one’s own skin”. It speaks volumes about your individual personal sense of style. Fashion has been redefined with a wave of positive change from the quintessential to more versatile and personality driven styles.
All fashion tips aside, Anita Dongre urges women to wear what they feel most confident in. It is this confidence that will help today’s women break all societal shackles and fly across all imaginary boundaries.
Happy Women’s Day – Celebrate Your Existence, Because YOU are Worth it.