Indian fashion designer Anita Dongre dreams of creating an environmentally sustainable company - GulfToday

Indian fashion designer Anita Dongre dreams of creating an environmentally sustainable company


Bridal dresses and accessories of fashion designer Anita Dongre are displayed at her store in Mumbai.

A feminist powerhouse in a male-dominated industry, Indian fashion designer Anita Dongre is all this and more.


Dongre caters to some really powerful women all around the world.


Her clothes have been worn by Hillary Clinton, Kate Middleton, Ivanka Trump, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Beyonce.


Fashion designer Anita Dongre (L) interacts with a worker at her factory on the outskirts of Mumbai.


Besides producing five clothing lines, hand-crafted fine jewelry and accessories, her foundation provides training and jobs to more than 250 rural women, with plans to cover 30 villages by 2025.


 But her true ambition is to create an environmentally sustainable company, she says.


Turning a company with an annual turnover of $105 million into a carbon-neutral enterprise is a daunting proposition, but Dongre has never been one to shy away from challenges.


Anita Dongre has stores in India and New York, multiple clothing brands and a global celebrity following.


Greenwashing risks


Feminist values have been at the heart of her brand: her clothing has always been size-inclusive, going up to an XXL.


Even when she ventured into bridal wear, her advertising campaigns challenged traditional norms and featured women sporting tattoos, enjoying their wine, and paying for their weddings.


"It is very important for me to show a woman who is not coy or veiled -- someone bold and sassy. I was that girl. I drove a jeep. I proposed to my husband," she says.



A man works on an embroidery at the factory of fashion designer Anita Dongre.


She will need to rely on that goodwill to convince customers to shop in a wholly different way than they are used to: prioritising sustainability and slow fashion over instant gratification.


On the one hand, Dongre's task has never been easier -- when she spoke about environmentally-friendly design more than a decade ago, few paid attention. Today, she says drolly, "I am glad it's finally fashionable to be green".


On the other hand, greenwashing remains a huge risk, she explains.



Do more and more


She is the only Indian designer to join the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), a global alliance of retailers, brands, suppliers, campaigners and labour groups that provides members with the tools to measure the environmental impact of their activities.




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The SAC is a non-binding organisation, meaning members are largely responsible for their own efforts towards sustainability and transparency.


For her part, Dongre says she feels a drive "to do more and more" on the environmental front.


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