Sri Lanka’s fashion industry is facing lack of young professionals since 2019 as many aspired individuals are moving away due to challenges faced by them following the Easter Sunday attack, the pandemic, and an unprecedented economic crisis, an expert said.
The industry has been in the process to improve globally lucrative venture in the last decade, but the challenges have reversed the gains, the expert said.
Colombo Fashion Week’s Luxury Edition, which started on Thursday (17) , is one such effort to showcase Sri Lanka’s talented fashion designers and the event featured luxury, occasion, and bridal trousseau segments by 8 designers who had created their collections.
The latest edition has emphasised on looking for resources available in Sri Lanka to create garments by changing the narrative and manufacturing materials available in the crisis-hit island nation.
“I think the whole cycle needs to be re-disciplined because Sri Lanka was predominantly influenced by apparel manufacturing. So, a lot of young kids go into big apparel companies,” Ajay Vir Singh, the managing director of the Colombo Fashion Week, told EconomyNext.
“So we want to inspire youngsters to take the fashion and take design, of course, it’s the inspiration, the curriculum, and the work to give them the right mindset.”
“After that you have to help them to manufacture quality stuff that’s the next step is to retail in Sri Lanka after you learn. Then you can take the next of exporting in Sri Lanka because when you have the experience the retail market and then sometimes you need to import materials, sometimes you have to relook at local resources available”
Sri Lanka’s young fashion design industry had been coming up to a higher level with talented young designers since the end of the war in 2009. But challenges like Easter Attack, the pandemic, and the economic crisis have reversed the hard work done in the 10 years from 2009 to improve the industry, Singh said.
Economic crisis has hit the imports of fashion designing materials with only a few materials available within Sri Lanka like accessories and fabrics.
Singh said nearly 50 percent of the designing materials have been banned as the country’s central bank to save US dollars in the face of an acute foreign exchange shortage.
Singh said Sri Lankan culture has never been a barrier to promote fashion design as an industry.
“Culture is your strength, but people misinterpret it. That’s when it goes wrong and people falsely try to not understand what the culture is they try to be protective of it but not understanding what they are