Designer Anita Dongre says the world of fashion is not all about trends, but more about making a difference with a growing interest in Indian handloom, traditional weaves and eco-friendly textiles.
"There has been a significant growth in the 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," Dongre told IANS in an email interview.
"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," she added.
The celebrated designer, who is also a successful entrepreneur courtesy her brand -- House of Anita Dongre -- points out that fashion schools are also doing fantastic work in sensitising 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. The journey to Grassroot (her craft-based sustainable brand) started after a conversation with the women of Self Employed Women's Association (Sewa).
"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," added the designer, who works closely with artisans in villages.
How does she think the fashion industry is changing with a sense of being environmentally conscious?
"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."
She has never used leather or fur in any of her collections despite catering to the luxury market.
"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."
Dongre founded AND Designs India Limited in 1995, and rebranded it House of Anita Dongre (HOAD) in 2015.
She has stitched together three brands under her label with distinct identities. There is AND with its contemporary Western-wear for women line; Global Desi which boasts of boho-chic ensembles; and then there is the Anita Dongre label which shines with special curated looks in bridal, couture, pret and menswear.
She is a regular at fashion weeks and wedding exhibitions like the Vogue Wedding Show, which concluded here earlier this month.
Talking about the trend of organic fashion, she said: "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."
Dongre concluded: "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."
- Sugandha Rawal for Ians (Sugandha Rawal can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)