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May 21, 2024

Anita Dongre gives business of fashion lessons to craftswomen of SEWA

Pratishtha Rana

For the House of Anita Dongre, luxury begins right at its establishment in Rabale in Navi Mumbai; a lush green landscape, with abundant sunlight and earthy charm. LuxeBook made a haul at Anita Dongre’s fashion headquarter to meet six women artisans from SEWA (Self Employed Women’s Association), who recently arrived here to hone their kaarigari to match the ever-growing fashion business of India. Walking the lengths inside the gate, towards the meeting room, it was evident where Anita Dongre’s label finds its calm and creative dose from, away from city’s non-stop chaos.
Anita Dongre SEWA artisans
Anita Dongre with SEWA artisans
Dongre’s label has been associated with SEWA for over three years, and now was the best time for these talented craftswomen to take a tour of the urban fashion scene to understand what sells and how big a catalyst they are in India’s fashion market. The brand provides work to more than 300 SEWA artisans, and over 1000 more women work from all over India on distinct craft forms like ari, soi and bharatkaam. On one of Anita’s visits to a village near Ahmedabad where SEWA operates, the women expressed the desire for smartphones and Dongre’s label provided them with it, efficiently overcoming the barrier of communication and staying digitally connected.
Tune back to Mumbai, Anita Dongre, the creative mind behind her eponymous brand believes that she has the ability to transform women’s lives. She explains, “Today, we are taking work back to rural India, whether it is stitching or hand embroidery. I think the business of fashion is a very powerful tool to impact women’s lives. We are a large organization and it feels wonderful to impact the people we work with. And I really think a woman just needs an opportunity to transform her life.”
Sakhi, one of the six women remarked on her experience of travelling overseas to New York for Anita Dongre’s flagship store launch. She said, “It was exciting and a very proud feeling too because I got the opportunity to represent my fellow workers from SEWA and the craft we do.”
Anita Dongre SEWA artisans
A work by SEWA artisans
As fashion continues to evolve, it becomes imperative for conscious consumers to support brands that are reeling in positive changes and influencing trends. Empowerment, Indian craft and sustainability front the ideology of Dongre’s business, and the consumers connect with this initiative very naturally. She says, “Everything depends on the consumer; the consumer has to buy and that’s how a business continues.”
Anita Dongre SEWA artisans
Anita Dongre with Sakhi, SEWA’s craftswoman
Four years ago, the fashion designer visited the village of Charoti to help the women get a source of employment, only to realize they lacked the basic skills to embroider. Anita told us, “Embroidery skills are passed on from generation to generation, All the artisans at the workshop, their grandmothers and mothers have been practising the art. Embroidery is a skill that takes years to develop.” With a goal to make 30 such villages self-sufficient in the next two years, the basic thought is to turn these women into entrepreneurs.
Anita Dongre SEWA artisans
Workers in the House of Anita Dongre, Rabale
Talking about the overall fashion scenario in India, Anita says, “Why should we look at the global scene. Why can’t we look at the Indian market? It’s huge and there’s so much opportunity here. The world is looking at the Indian market. Every global fashion designer wants to come to India, so why not look at India.”

“The world is looking at the Indian market. Every global fashion designer wants to come to India, so why not look at India” 

A booming country, India has a lot to offer in the fashion and luxury space, with its exceptional art and craft inspired by the rich heritage. For Anita, craft and luxury are synonymous and she observes, “Indian women are now finally feeling proud of what we have and what this country offers, and they are willing to support and buy and wear it.”
Anita Dongre
Aditi Rao Hyadri
Talking about Bollywood’s role in promoting sustainability and empowerment, the label feels these celebrated personalities have a far-reaching voice and wearing SEWA’s handcrafted pieces with the purpose of putting craft on the forefront will make a huge difference in the global fashion industry.  

Pratishtha Rana


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