Business Times

Sri Lanka Design Festival ends on successful note

The Sri Lanka Design Festival (SLDF) 2011 organised by the Academy of Design (AOD), Sri Lanka’s leading design campus, ended on a successful note this week at the Mount Lavinia Hotel. A prestigious group of industrialists, government representatives and leading businessmen were key partners of this annual event, the organisers said in a statement.

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During the early days of the event, a press conference was held where Mike Tadaro, MD of AAPN Network and Kurt Cavano of TradeCard Inc expressed confidence in accomplishing SLDF’s agenda such as establishing Sri Lanka as an apparel visionary.

Mr Cavano, ranked among the top 50 businessmen in the world, said “We saw something in Sri Lanka we didn’t see elsewhere: a strong work ethic, a good educated workforce and a great set of powerhouses in the apparel industry for us to work with.” Saying Sri Lanka is well poised to become a fashion hub in the region, he noted that from a global perspective there is a lot to be proud of. “In a global perspective you have it all going.”

Leaders in tourism and apparel industries such as Rumy Jauffer – General Manager of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, SriLankan Airlines CEO Kapila Chandrasena and Coats PLC Managing director Giles Watkins also spoke at the event and expressed their support for the festival's significant apparel, craft revival, artisans’ livelihood restoration and craft-design merger agendas. Coats’ MD Giles Watkins said that his organization’s collaboration with the festival reaches many levels from supporting the apparel industry to local crafts:

The press conference Pix by Amila Prabodha

“Firstly this provides an opportunity to support Sri Lanka overall in its apparel sustainable platform in differentiating the industry as a whole; particularly in the face of cost escalation challenges,” adding, “We all know that escalating costs and actually producing garments that are cheap is a challenge and the best way to address that is an industry as a whole. Secondly the company looks at the CSR activities and finally it is the business and commercial aspect that attracted the Company.

The South Asian Apparel Leaders Forum is a platform for heads of companies in the entire supply chain of apparel to come together to discuss varied issues pertaining to the industry.”

Nikhil Hirdaramani, Director of Hirdaramani Group representing local apparel manufacturers at the conference, noted; “The current global situation is very challenging at the moment, but Sri Lanka always aims to be one step ahead in terms of trying to be different, and SLDF is an ideal platform to display what Sri Lanka can do”. He stated that the design talent in the country has increased phenomenally in the recent years. “There is nothing stopping to commercialise it to the rest of the world.”

The festival not only promoted the country’s apparel industry, but also had a strong focus on crafts, fashion, design and photography, encompassing all creative arts. The festival founder, Linda Speldewinde highlighted the past successes of the 2009 and 2010 editions of SLDF and added that the 2011 edition was taking place in a changed national context, which makes it more crucial and essential; “This is the first festival organised in a changed context in the country where the North and East has opened up and needs to be engaged in the rest of the country’s agenda”.

The island-wide craft revival and livelihood restoration projects by Academy of Design are to be a special focus at the festival. SLDF was conceptualized and organized by AOD – The Academy of Design. It was endorsed by its key stakeholders, Ministry of Economic Development, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau – Endorsement Partner and Sri Lanka Apparel.

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