Anita Dongre’s unique selling proposition is not only her exquisite designs but also her practicality. She was a pioneer in adding pockets to lehengas.
With her designer clothes being worn regularly by Bollywood A-listers, Anita Dongre is one of the most successful fashion designers in India. Her business centers around artisans and their crafts, which started with only two sewing machines. Today, the 59-year-old Mumbai woman employs over 2,500 people and has hundreds of stores in India and abroad.
Anita Dongre’s unique selling proposition lies not only in her exquisite designs but also in the practicality she offers. She was a trailblazer in adding pockets to lehengas and strives to offer outfits catering to a wide range of affordability levels. Her clothing has been worn by people from India and abroad, including numerous celebrities. Today, she is one of the biggest brands in the Indian fashion industry.
Having launched her flagship store in Delhi in 2016, Anita Dongre expanded her retail presence by launching a mega store in Mumbai in February, offering clothes and accessories designed from her house of fashion.
After 18 months of grueling work, the Mumbai store with its heritage architecture was finally unveiled. Anita Dongre aimed to give people a taste of Rajasthan palace and make them forget they were in Mumbai, as she shared in an interview with Mint in February.
Coming from a middle-class family, she was born in Mumbai and was one of six children. As was customary in those days, she learned embroidery.
However, that early experience with designing served as a catalyst for her to launch herself into the art and business of fashion.
Back in 1982, when she expressed her intention to start a fashion business while still studying fashion design, her family was not pleased. Nevertheless, she persevered. The ultimate validation came in 1984 when her very first clothes exhibition sold out entirely. She became the first woman in her family to achieve financial independence.
AND Designs India Limited, her company, was established in 1995 with a workshop located in Dharavi. Due to their resounding success, they opened another store in just four years.
In 2007, she launched Global Desi, offering products starting at Rs 1000. Later in 2013, she also introduced a jewelry brand, Pinkcity.
Anita Dongre continued to expand her business with her 2018 store launch in New York and her latest addition, her own line of vegan accessories – both of which were great business moves.
Apart from external funding, her company also received investments from the Future Group, which acquired a 22.9% stake in her company before exiting in 2013. Additionally, a US-based company purchased 23% of the shares for 23%.
For Anita Dongre, work is like a religion, and she strives to come to work every day. In 2015, she ventured into philanthropy by setting up the Anita Dongre Foundation, which established a tailoring unit in a Maharashtra village to help women achieve financial independence.
Her company’s revenue surpassed Rs 1,000 crore last year, and she has consistently generated revenue exceeding Rs 500 crore for several years. As reported in the newspaper, in 2019 her revenue was Rs 789 crore.