FT Special

Dreams do come true: Anita Dongre’s journey to becoming a foremost Indian designer

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Having to talk about the fashion industry is incomplete without appreciating the gorgeous designs of Anita Dongre. Being one of the highest sought after Indian designers today, Anita’s designs have been worn by the most popular faces till date. Her intricate designs and beautiful fabrics are bound to make heads turn. Her journey from a traditional Sindhi family to reaching the apex of her fashion career is extremely inspiring.

Anita Dongre
Anita Dongre

Born in a Sindhi household, Anita spent a lot of her childhood summer vacations in Jaipur. She was aware how conservative the environment was for her cousins there. She saw a different part of the world when her father relocated to Mumbai and she became aware that women too can have careers. Before her, no woman in her family was an entrepreneur. She took an internship and even though it was frowned upon by her family, she never looked back. “There was total shock and I was subjected to a lot of counseling. Back then it was assumed that if a woman wanted to work it meant that her family was unable to look after her financially,” says Anita. However, her life journey was meant to oppose every norm set in her family.

She earned a degree in fashion from SNDT University, Mumbai. “Design and fashion were the only things that interested me even as a 15-year-old. Many friends whom I studied commerce with, in NM college, became chartered accountants. But I found that very boring. Only fashion excited me. So I was sure this was what I was going to do,” says Anita.

The designer began her business along with her younger sister and brother in a 300 square foot area. Even after having to constantly move from place to place and facing financial difficulties, her passion for fashion didn’t waiver. “There have been tough times and in those early years I did think of giving up a couple of times, but that was very momentary. I would wake up in the morning and say, what the hell, I will do it,” says Anita.

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Anita Dongre’s collection at ICW 2016

About 14-15 years ago I created a collection of clothes I really liked which catered to the growing population of young women who had started working and were open to experimenting with western outfits. But none of the shops I supplied to would accept it. I got so angry that I decided I will do this myself, and that’s how Anita Dongre Designs was born,” she says.

Today, she is a successful entrepreneur. Her company ‘AND’ has four labels under it- AND (western wear), Global Desi (boho prints), Interpret (everyday clothing) and Timeless (bridal wear) along with an eco fashion project- Grassroots. Her design was very recently worn by the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton in Mumbai. Dongre will soon be launching two stores in New York. In 2013, she was also ranked in Fortune India’s list of 50 Most Popular Women in Business. Fashion is her love and she is very dedicated and focussed on her business.

She does not look too deep for inspiration and often falls back in life. “You have to be passionate, driven and always remember that there is no shortcut to success. Creativity is a work in progress, so continue to enhance it and never confine it. The key is to constantly innovate and evolve with the changing times,” she exclaims. Her love for her work has always kept her grounded. “It’s a blessing to be able to dress people, give them fashion, and make women feel good about themselves.

She is the quintessence of proving that hard-work, dedication, believing in yourself, and not giving up on your dream will never let you down.