2019 will herald the start of the next phase of the fashion development journey in Sri Lanka. Fashion design which is an industry that constantly evolves year on year, has experienced steady development in the last 15 years.
In the last two years, the global fashion industry has undergone significant changes. These changes have impacted the supply chain, the retail consumption, the seasons of showcase, the showcase at fashion week, the digital space and fashion as a creative industry. Fashion Week in 2019 will expand its scope as it looks to the future with expansion that will include the changes that the global fashion industry is going through.
Ajai Vir Singh created, founded and steadily developed the Colombo Fashion Week for the last 15 years starting with the first one in 2003. Over the years this platform created the eco-system for fashion design. He now looks to the next 15 years with precision and expansion in mind: “2019 will be a landmark year with plans to expand the scope of opportunities for the fashion design industry through a multi-pronged platform. It will include the key pillars that will form the basis of development. There will be new focus on designer development, education impact, retail formats, inclusion of new crafts and tourism products.”
Structure for fresh and high potential fashion talent
This structure will make the platform relevant as it will mentor emerging designers and create opportunities for established designers, from emerging designer point of view. There will be more designer mentoring platforms and exposure through fashion councils. The key universities and fashion schools have been engaged in this program, which also includes exchange programs with other institutions. The key idea being, designers need to stay tuned in and be relevant after their education which makes them ready for the market place experience. There will be four designer development formats for that. Emerging designers are the supply chain from any fashion industry. Over the years this program has constantly fed Sri Lankan fashion design industry with important designers. The program now evolves to make a new format of development and presentation. They are mentored groomed and after showcase retail. Mostly all of them are retail ready and are in stores. Some key designers who are now household names were high potential talent that was shown at emerging designer shows. There are reciprocal openings for high potential designers to show at other platforms.
The first Fashion Week format was created in 2003, as a format that suits Sri Lankan market and was built from there carefully understanding the challenges of a growing fashion market. Over the years the fashion week came out with a lot of firsts in the region and they are still being followed. In the vision for the next phase of development one of the key factors will be new retail formats with relevant buyers.
Strengthening the Sri Lankan design identity
A special emphasis is laid on this after years of fine-tuning and refining. In the last two years, more than a few designers have shown great progress and through their sensibility there is an emergence of a Sri Lankan design identity. This will be further strengthened by defining it through interactive design sessions.
‘See now buy now’ concept made relevant from Sri Lankan perspective
The fashion supply chains and the journey of the fashion collections from presentation to retail are being refined around the world. This concept will be also made relevant in Sri Lanka for established Sri Lankan designers. There are special collaborations with important local fashion retail stores to strengthen the relationship with designers and the fashion consumers, through a series of interesting events.
Direct tie-up with four international fashion weeks
There is a direct tie-up with four fashion weeks. The established designers get to participate at one of the four fashion weeks, which will increase their exposure and open market opportunities. This is a fresh initiative to expand further.
Sri Lankan and international designers
There will be a mix of 30 Sri Lankan designers, who will represent the various aspect of fashion design in Sri Lanka. It will be a mix of established and fresh high potential designers. This will be complemented by important international designers, who will bring international media value.
There are five important buyers who will be attending. There will be special presentations on between designers and the buyers. This will expand the scope beyond just Colombo. There will be two new formats introduced. This format will increase the exposure for designers to have their collections retail ready. The fashion retail has undergone a significant change with consumers consuming fashion in a very different manner, which shows higher discernment.
Fashion as a tourism product
Fashion plays a very important role in attracting tourists who engage with the creative stream of any city and country. Fashion plays an important role of creating city and society based influence for the visitors. There will be a new focus on showcasing Colombo and Sri Lanka in a new light. There are interesting venues in the city that will be highlighted.
Fashion in the digital space
As digital space becomes more influential in the fashion design industry interesting new platform to enhance media reach has been conceptualised using international digital media celebrities, who are household names in the world of fashion. There is an interesting platform that will be leveraged to showcase the fashion design industry of Sri Lanka on this space opening doors for retail and fashion design.
Creative stream as a singular exposure
Over the years, films, art, music, cuisines and parties have played an important role in showcasing the co-existence of all the streams in the city. There is a new online and offline platform developed to engage and showcase Colombo as a vibrant city seeped in creative industries. This interaction between creative streams opens new avenues of interaction between designers and related creative industries.
Sri Lanka as a sustainable destination
A lot of work has gone in showcasing Sri Lanka as a fashion destination which is sensitive towards environment and societal impacts. There are expert discussions and workshops included which will enlighten and show new ways of creating ‘Good’ fashion. This is connected to two international bodies, who will work with the platform and guide designers.
“The next phase will also focus on creating a distinctive Sri Lankan fashion story, this has come after deeper understanding of the challenges Sri Lankan designers fashion on ground,” says Ajai Vir Singh, Founder of Colombo Fashion Week, The Responsible Fashion Movement and Swim Week Colombo.
The quality of collections which is the main focus, will be showcased in a format which will have a new in its outlook of display and presentation. The vision of the fashion in this new phase will be to take Sri Lankan fashion to newer heights and link with a strong destination marketing. The multipronged platform will be showcased in March 2019.