She’s one of fashion’s most prolific designers and, chances are, if you’re a fashion conscious woman in Mumbai, you own an item from at least one of her five clothing brands. With the launch of her massive five-in-one store on Linking Road, Anita Dongre has created a clothing kingdom of sorts.
“The idea of bringing together all my brands, AND, Anita Dongre Timeless, Inter-pret, Global Desi and Grassroots, under one roof came from my clients. So many of them pick up clothes from one of my stores and then travel to another to find something to match it with. They kept telling me to combine everything,” says Dongre.
One of the first Indian designers to understand the concept of high-street fashion, where trendy clothing can be bought at affordable prices, Dongre admits it’s this philosophy that has helped her corner the market so successfully. “When I created AND 10 years ago, most people had to travel abroad to shop. I saw the power of high-street fashion and decided to bring it to India. Designer fashion used to be snobbish and unaffordable. I want a woman to be able to walk into a store once a month and pick up something cutting-edge for Rs 1,500,” she says.
While Dongre hasn’t attached her name to the world of movies, she credits her celebrity clientele with helping her visibility. “Mallika Sherawat is one of my clients and she’s not afraid to try something bold. And why not, she has the body for it.”
Dongre also mentions that Juhi Chawla, another loyalist, walked into her store recently because she needed an outfit for a last-minute plan, and walked out with a completely new wardrobe. The most recent visit was supposedly paid by Kajol who set the cash counters ringing in the new store.
As far as her inspiration goes, Dongre credits an unusual source. “I was born and brought up in Bandra, and it’s one place where you can walk down the street and see the young creating fashion trends. Somewhere, I may have imbibed that.”
According to Dongre, fashion weeks are helping take fashion to the streets. “Once the fashion shows go online, we get flooded by orders from all over the country and abroad.”
She thinks Bollywood today must be credited with raising the country’s fashion awareness: “Even in weddings, people want to wear gowns, which is copied from what they see stars wearing on the red carpet. That trend emerged out of Mumbai.”
According to Dongre, another trend of Mumbai origin is the slogans and religious imagery on t-shirts: “From Colaba to Linking Road, those came from Mumbai.”