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Anita Dongre On Sustainability And The Rise Of Eco-Friendly Fashion

"Sustainability is about paying attention to the little details", says the designer

Anita Dongre at her Lakme Fashion Week show in January 2018 with Shahid Kapoor and wife, Mira Rajput

Trends may be synonymous with style and even influence your purchase decisions to an extent, but fashion isn't restricted to it anymore. The fashion sphere is growing rapidly and there's a growing interest in Indian handloom, traditional weaves and eco-friendly textiles. Renowned Indian fashion designer Anita Dongre delves more on this in an email interview with IANS.

Says Dongre, "There has been a significant growth in interest in handloom, eco-friendly textiles and traditional weaves in recent years. Today, fashion is no longer limited to just trends and innovative designs. It is also a means to encourage conversations on sustainable choices." She goes on to add, "The active involvement and thoughtful initiatives of the government have accelerated the spread of this awareness. A lot of mainstream designers are creating conscious fashion using Indian textiles and crafts."

On how these changes are slowly yet steadily coming about, Dongre points out that fashion schools are also doing fantastic work in sensitizing the design community to several relevant issues. "I'm grateful to see that people are now using their wallets to demand change and support indigenous textiles," she says.

In fact, it was after a conversation with the women of Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA) that her sustainable brand, Grassroot took shape. Dongre, who works closely with artisans in the villages, says, "it was important to me to help find a way to give these strong, talented women a way to economic independence accessible to them in their village. That is how my journey in sustainable fashion recognisably began."

Does Anita Dongre believe that the fashion industry is becoming more environmentally conscious? Here's what she has to say - "There is a lot more to sustainability than what meets the eye. It's a broad term that boils down to making conscious choices both as a customer and as a designer/retailer/manufacturer. I've always made these choices - we work out of ergonomic headquarters in Navi Mumbai. In terms of our creations, every part of the collection is made by hand by skilled artisans, significantly reducing carbon footprint; we even reuse water."

Despite catering to the luxury fashion market, she has never used leather or fur in any of her collections. "It is completely against my beliefs as a vegetarian, it is cruel and unsustainable. My design team has strict guidelines to follow on fabric waste; I do all my sketches digitally, there is absolutely no reason to cut down trees for this. Sustainability is about paying attention to the little details," says Anita.

On the topic of organic fashion, Anita says - "Eco-apparel and organic textiles are a rapidly-growing market, which is creating opportunities for companies, employees and the environment as opposed to fast fashion that offers customers more and more clothes so that they are able to keep up with ever-evolving trends. Sustainability encourages people to buy less so that they discard less." She concludes, "The progress has been slow; more people are making these conscious choices and I have no doubt that this ''movement'' will be the new normal in the times to come."

Anita Dongre founded AND Designs India Limited in 1995, when Indian fashion was at a nascent stage. In 2015, it was rebranded to House of Anita Dongre (HOAD). Under her label, Anita has three distinct fashion brands. There's AND with western women's clothing. The second is Global Desi, with its signature bohemian-chic touch. Finally, there is Anita Dongre label with bridal, couture, pret and menswear.

Not only is Dongre is a fashion week regular, she is a favourite of numerous Bollywood celebrities from Anushka Sharma to Sonakshi Sinha. In 2016, Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton famously wore Anita Dongre's designs, a printed tunic, as her choice of clothing for her trip to Mumbai.

With Inputs From IANS

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(Also Read: These Celebs Are Making Us Fall In Love With Anita Dongre's Summer Line)