Walking through New York’s Soho is like exploring a sprawling outdoor luxury mall, with designers from every country and price point packed into the cast iron storefronts. The eccentric Italian Miu Miu faces all-American mainstay J.Crew. Zimmerman, an Australian brand known for its feminine cocktail dresses, is catty corner from James Perse’s line of luxe California T-shirts.
Turn onto Broome Street and you’ll find a new shop from a designer few New Yorkers (or Americans, for that matter) have ever heard of: Grassroot, a line of socially and environmentally conscious ready-to-wear from Indian designer Anita Dongre. Opened earlier in July, it’s the first U.S. outpost for the brand—and Dongre’s first outside of India, aside from one boutique in Mauritius. Dongre has almost 300 stores in India for her various brands (including a western-style high street brand called AND, and an eponymous line of bridal and couture dresses, which will have its own store, also in Soho, later this year).
Dongre, whose headquarters are based in Mumbai, has never advertised or marketed her products in the U.S. (Those who do recognize her name might know it from when Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton wore a one of Dongre’s custom pink and green tunic dresses while visiting a cricket pitch in Mumbai last year.)
“The collection was designed for a global citizen who believes in the luxury of time, patience and craft,” Dongre says. In an effort to keep the traditional crafts of weaving and embroidery alive, Grassroot works with artisans in villages all over India, who produce the detailed handiwork on gauzy, saffron-colored cotton tops, floaty indigo dresses with tassel-embellished straps, and sheer black blouses with subtle textural embroidery—along with vegan leather shoes and hand-painted wooden minaudieres.
The pieces are quintessentially Indian in technique, but every piece is cut in fresh, modern silhouettes. What’s even more refreshing? The price point— almost everything is under $350.
Conde Nast Traveler | July 2017