ECONOMYNEXT – The fashion industry in Sri Lanka has been facing a shortage of young professionals since 2019 as many aspiring people move away due to the challenges they face following the Easter Sunday attack, the pandemic and an unprecedented economic crisis, said an expert.
The industry has been improving a lucrative business globally over the past decade, but challenges have reversed the gains, the expert said.
The deluxe edition of Colombo Fashion Week, which kicked off on Thursday (17), is one such effort to showcase Sri Lanka’s talented fashion designers and the event featured segments from luxury, second-hand and bridal trousseau by 8 designers who had created their collections.
The latest edition has focused on finding resources available in Sri Lanka to create clothing by altering the narrative and manufacturing materials available in the troubled island nation.
“I think the whole cycle needs to be re-disciplined because Sri Lanka has been influenced mainly by garment manufacturing. So a lot of young kids are getting into big garment companies,” said Ajay Vir Singh, director general of Colombo Fashion Week, at EconomyNext.
“So we want to inspire young people to embrace fashion and design, of course it’s the inspiration, the program and the work to give them the right mindset.”
“After that, you have to help them to produce quality products. The next step is to sell in Sri Lanka after learning. Then you can take the next step of exporting to Sri Lanka, because when you have retail market experience and that sometimes you have to import materials, sometimes you have to review the local resources available”
Sri Lanka’s fledgling fashion design industry had reached a new level with talented young designers since the end of the war in 2009. But challenges like the Easter attack, the pandemic and the economic crisis reversed the hard work accomplished over the past 10 years. from 2009 to improve the industry, Singh said.
The economic crisis has hit imports of fashion design materials with only a few materials available in Sri Lanka like accessories and fabrics. .
Singh said nearly 50% of design materials were banned as the country’s central bank to save US dollars in the face of severe currency shortages.
Singh said Sri Lankan culture has never been a barrier to promoting fashion design as an industry.
“Culture is your strength, but people misinterpret it. This is where it goes wrong and people wrongly try not to understand what culture is, they try to protect it but don’t understand what they are
protector of”. (Colombo/November 18, 2022)