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Mumbai allows for fashion and freedom to coexist, says Anita Dongre

mid-day 36th anniversary specialBack in the 1990s 'fashion design' wasn't considered a serious profession. Today, there is a pool of opportunities for all those who are starting out.

Anita Dongre

The business of fashion is dynamic, with new trends and styles cropping up every few weeks, such that you need to be a step ahead in the game. We live in the age of 'fast fashion'. What worked for me, was my vision to have a ready-to-wear label, back in 1999, when most other designers were concentrating on bridal wear.

Models

For years, Bollywood has moulded fashion in Mumbai. Today, we can say that we have moved from Bollywood dictating styles to professionalism of fashion. Bloggers and stylists have stepped in to influence people; grooming has taken centre stage for men and women. However, the downside is that people today are losing their identity in the race to look fashionable, and are getting lost in sameness. It is vital to gauge that comfort comes first, to understand what suits you instead of following fads blindly, to fit in. The best part about Mumbai is that fashion and freedom can coexist.

Design

The industry has evolved spectacularly. Today, there is far greater awareness and access than ever before. Thanks to the onslaught of e-commerce, there is a huge platform for aspiring fashion, which also allows independent designers-entrepreneurs and boutiques to be online with zero infrastructure. While the debate continues whether Mumbai or Delhi is 'the' fashion capital, Mumbai definitely is 'a' fashion capital while Delhi enjoys the advantage of real estate.

As a country, we have a wealth of textiles and a glorious craft heritage. Hence, I believe that it is imperative for designers to revive the Indian crafts, to travel to these rich-heritage cities and be in touch with the people. The biggest challenge as a designer and entrepreneur is to build a great team to support oneself so one can focus on the creative aspect.

Mumbai already enjoys being the fashion capital of India. I don't think we need to stake claim to revolutionising fashion and lifestyle.

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