The highlight from a business sense was the one to one discussions that were staged at the Sri Lanka Designer Festival 2010 between Small and Medium apparel companies/apparel brands and prospective retailer globally.
The global retailers included top names such as Asos, Ted Baker, Frugi, Warehouse, Playhouse, Topshop, and Whistles.
Whilst the Sri Lankan export companies/brand label owners who took part were Buddhi batiks, Ventura Star, Vogue Tex, Orit, BAM, Hirdaramanis, Brandix (Conexao brand), Times, Jinadasa, Saemaul, Penguin, Union Apparels, Rakshaa, Marlo, Sanchia and Kalaro to name a few. They were keen to find links to global markets which gave a new twist to the Sri Lanka Design Festival perceived to be more of a creative than a fashion show.
The Founder Core Team member Rohantha Athukorala said the Sri Lanka Designer Festival was an idea conceptualised by the creative guru Linda Speldewinde around three years back and has been supported ably by a team of professionals for it to be a high share of voice event today. The 2010 edition was unique given that it linked to the Sri Lankan economy by linking products from rural Sri Lanka with artisans, SME apparel exporters and global retailers that gave the business dimension to the event said the corporate personality Athukorala.
Sustainable Sourcing Strategists for the company EIGHT Claire Hamer (left), Sri Lanka Design Festival Chairperson Linda Speldewinde, Ministry of Trade and Commerce adviser Himali Jinadasa and Founder Core Team member Rohantha Athukorala at the meeting
The credibility earned over time has attracted key Government agencies that promote exports to partner the event including key private sector organisations like MAS, Brandix and Dialog together with SriLankan Airlines that gives an indication of the linkages to the Sri Lankan business sector and economy at large said Speldewinde.
Apart from the one to one business meetings between Small and medium scale apparel companies and key retailers for business building a landmark decision was made to launch a Sri Lanka Peace Collection that can bring in Rs.1 billion in export value to Sri Lanka. This will be the CSR project of the Sri Lanka Design Festival commented Athukorala
The Peace collection will be the brand that will connect rural Sri Lanka produce with the International markets said Athukorala. Some of the merchandise from the apparel collections that was showcased at the fashion shows of SLDF 2010 will be picked to come under the Peace Collection targeting the major U.S. chains like Macy's and top retailers in UK with donor funding like UNIDO for supply chain development.
Macy's CEO Terry Lungren who already carries the Rwanda Peace Collection in the Macy's New York store had already committed to Athukorala at the WWD CEO summit this year that Macy's can open the door for Sri Lanka's Peace Collection brand provided that there is a continuous supply and sustainable business practice which happens to be the theme that SLDF has been driving on over the last three years.
The Peace Collection has the potential of becoming a key livelihood opportunity for villages that can bring in a net Rs.1 billion to the people who have been resettled in the North of Sri Lanka. The overall branding and promotional strategy has been finalised now, and all that is required is the product range said Athukorala the founder core committee member of Sri Lanka Design Festival.