Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry


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This is a Project Report which was prepared for an Assignment at National Institute of Business Management. This includes a background study and a macro environmental Analysis of Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry.

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Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry

  1. 1. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry Macro Environment and its latest changesThis is a PESTEL Analysis on Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry and its latestMacro Environmental changes, which is done as the Group Assignment for the ‘Marketing Management’ Module.
  2. 2. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry Sri Lankan Fashion Design Fashion Design and Macro EnvironmentIndustry Macro Environment and its latest changes Fashion Design is oneFashion Design is gaining popularity as an industry in of the emerging andSri Lanka. However, still the Sri Lankan society is not rapidly developingquite aware of this industry and its actual use. industries in presentTherefore, the macro Environmental factors are not day Sri Lanka.much in favour of the development of Fashion Design. Modeling is anotherWe have tried to analyse this situation. field which is interconnected with this industry with aAssignment Details strong bond.Group Members However, sinceK.D.M. De Silva HD UGC 102017 fashion has become aM.D.H.D. Gunathilake HD UGC 102030 part of day-to-dayR.N. Karawdeniya HD UGC 102045 lives of people, thisN.R. Navaratne HD UGC 102057 industry is hugelyG.S.M. Perera HD UGC 102065 affected by certainW.P.T. Withana HD UGC 102094 Macro environmental factors. Especially, the social and culturalDegree Programme aspects of MacroBSc. In Business Management (Special) – UGC environment play a major role in decidingModule the future of fashionMarketing Management designing. This project is a PESTEL analysis to determineDate of Submission the latest significant04.11.2011 changes in such factors.
  3. 3. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry  Table of ContentsFashion Design Industry – An overview .................................................................... 3 Fashion and Fashion Design ...................................................................................... 3 History and Development .......................................................................................... 3Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry ......................................................................... 5 Contemporary Sri Lankan society and fashion .......................................................... 5 Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry and local Fashion Designers ........................... 6PESTEL Analysis ......................................................................................................... 7Fashion Design Industry and Socio-cultural Environment ..................................... 8 Effect of Socio-cultural environment on an industry ................................................. 8 Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry and Socio-cultural Factors .............................. 8 Gender, Fashion and Fashion Design Industry ...................................................... 9 The effect of age on Fashion Design Industry ..................................................... 10 Income, Occupation and Fashion Design Industry .............................................. 11 Challenge from the Ethnic and Religious views .................................................. 12 An overview on Socio-cultural impact on Fashion Design Industry ....................... 13 Recent Changes in the Socio-cultural Environment ................................................ 14 Changes in attitude ............................................................................................... 14 Fashion shows ...................................................................................................... 15 Effect of Ethical Fashion ..................................................................................... 15 Fashion Education and Society ............................................................................ 16Political and Legal Environments related to Fashion Design ................................ 17 Legal side in Fashion Design Industry..................................................................... 17 Intellectual Property Rights ................................................................................. 17 The need of a professional body .......................................................................... 18 Political side in Fashion Design Industry ................................................................ 19Natural Environment, Go-Green and Fashion Design ........................................... 20 The effect of Seasons and Climate on Fashion and Sri Lankan Fashion Designers 20 Go-Green, Eco Fashion Concept and Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry............ 21 Sri Lanka‟s place in Eco Fashion............................................................................. 22Effect of Economic Factors on Fashion Design Industry ....................................... 23 Place of Fashion Design Industry in Sri Lankan economy ...................................... 23Technological Environment and Fashion Design Industry .................................... 25 Modern Technology and its effect ........................................................................... 25 Craft Based Fashion Design Techniques ................................................................. 25Developing the Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry ............................................. 26Acknowledgements .................................................................................................... 30
  4. 4. Fashion Design Industry – An overviewFashion and Fashion DesignAccording to the Oxford English Dictionary, Fashion is “a popular or the latest styleof clothing, hair, decoration or behaviour” or “the production and marketing of newstyles of clothing and cosmetics”. As the definition clearly shows, Fashion is a part ofday-to-day lives of people all over the world from the very primitive tribes to thepeople of most developed countries. Actually, the latter can be taken as the definitionof Fashion Design. However, since the Beautycare has been developed as amainstream industry which covers the cosmetics etc., the Fashion Design Industry weconsider is the clothing and apperal design industry.Fashion Design is developing or making fashion and fashionable designs for people.Since humans need to be differentiated from each other and also to look good ingeneral, Fashion Design has become a profession and an industry with a hugepotential. This includes not just designing somekind of a suit to be worn. It should bedone with a great sense and awareness on the person who is going to wear it, theoccasion and the cultural background in which the dress is worn and so on. Anyproper Fashion Designer is well educated and aware of the way to use „Fashion‟.History and DevelopmentAlthough Fashion has been a part of human lifestyles literaryfrom the beginning of the human race, the development ofthe contemporary Fashion Design Industry has begun withinthe last two centuries. Anyhow, Charles Frederick Worth(1826–1895) who started the worlds first fashion house inParis is considered as the first ever professional FashionDesigner. Before him, it has been the practice to place orders A Design by Charlesfor the dressers which people prefer but Worth soon became Fredrick Worthso successful in his work that customers began seeking advice from him, rather than 3
  5. 5. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry telling him what they wanted. This is identified as the first instance where peoplecame across the „Fashion Design‟ concept. Ever since, France and especially Paris have been the centers of fashion in the world with many of the leading Fashion Designers and trend setting designs coming from them. The evolution of Fashion Design Industry has revolutionaised the clothing trends and also the lifestyles and national identities of people around the world. Later on, other European countries like Italy and also America adopted this new industry and entered theA Design by Stella McCartney at Paris Fashion Week (Spring mainstream Fashion Design, contributing in many ways. Collection) 2011 This has lead to the establishment of world renownedDesignerwear Brands such as Versace, Gucci and Giorgio Armani with other globaltrendsetters such as Adidas, Reebok, Esprit and Victoria’s Secret. These are currentlyleading the global market for Fashion Designs with numerous other global and localcompanies. Meanwhile, individual Fashion Designers are also coming up with variousdesigns for particular occasions and seasons as well as for the apperal industry ingeneral, making the world full of fashion. Moreover, Fashion Designers contribute toother fileds such as cinema and dancing by designing appropriate costumes. Moviestars and popular singers also get the service of private Fashion Designers as a part oftheir lifestyle.Fashion is not only limited for a particular set of people but for almost everyone and itdoesn‟t matter whether the person is male or female or young or old. In the countrieswith a developed Fashion Design industry, people look for the true meaning ofFashion, making it a tool for personality building. Since the dress is part of theappearance which has a huge influence on others‟ perceptions on one‟s character andpersonality, this should necessarily be taken as something serious. Although the term„Fashion‟ gives the idea of casual clothing, it also applies to the Formal clothing aswell. Therefore, the Fashion Designers can play a major role in shaping people‟slifestyles. 4
  6. 6. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry Sri Lankan Fashion Design IndustryContemporary Sri Lankan society and fashionConsidering the contemporary Sri Lankan society, it is evident that the influence offashion has a considerable impact on the day-to-day life of people. Being a multi-cultural society, the adoption of fashion differs from one set of people to another andit also differs based on the region. However, the awareness on fashion and the use ofit are not up to a satisfactory level in a fashion Designer‟s point of view (These arefurther discussed under the socio-cultural analysis).Sri Lankans have adopted the European and American Fashion designs to aconsiderable level. Especially in urban areas, casual clothing styles such as denimjeans are very popular and even in rural areas, dresses such as trousers, skirts etc. arewidely used. Considering the organizations, formal dress and business suits arerequired in most of them. Only the sarees are considered as a professional dress fromall the traditional Sri Lankan dresses. European and American Formal Dressing methods are adopted by Sri Lankan organizations while traditional sarees can also be seenPeople nowadays tend to wear colourful and trendy designs with a bit of „fancy‟touch. Also, an increase in fashion trends and brand loyalty can be seen in thecountry. As an example, though it‟s not directly related to clothing, there‟s a trend forthe usage of sneakers started in 2010-2011 period. Also, original and fake productswhich carry the famous brand names such as Nike, Adidas and Versace are hugelyconsumed. Meanwhile, local Fashion chains like Nolimit and Odel are alsointroducing their own brands such as NLM and Embark. These are more focused onproviding Sri Lankans with ideal clothing that suit the local conditions. Whenconsidering the Formal dresses, companies like Hameedia are offering clothing with afashion design approach. 5
  7. 7. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry and local Fashion Designers Although Sri Lankans have been exposed to Fashion for a long time even before the Open Economy was introduced, Fashion Design has not been developed as an industry when compared to other industries. In the mid 90‟s the idea of „Fashion Design‟ found its way into the Sri Lankan society in an influential way. With the beginning of the 21st Century, Fashion Design started evolving as a mainstream industry in Sri Lanka with professional Fashion Academies being started while the Apparel Industry also started functioning on its own rather than fully depending on foreign orders. Sri Lanka has not produced any world class Fashion Designers upto now. Although there are beauticiansRuchira Karunaratne, founder of Rebel and also one of the most and hair dressers who could make their way to the recognized Sri Lankan Fashion Designers international level, Fashion Designers are laggingbehind even within local dimensions. Only within the last decade, Sri Lankans havehad the opportunity of learning Fashion Design in the country. That might be the mainreason for the local Fashion Designers‟ incompetency when it comes to the globalmarket.However, it is quite evident that Sri Lankan Fashion Designers have got the talent andcreativity which is required to go a long way in the industry. One example is Ms.Ruchira Karunaratne, founder of „Rebel‟. She is a qualified Fashion Designer and alsoan entrepreneur who has been recognized as a quite successful Fashion Designer. Shestill continues her Fashion Design career with highly appreciated designs for Rebel.Moreover, recently concluded Fashion Shows in Sri Lanka and other countries sawmany Sri Lankan Fashion Designers showcasing their talents with exceptionaldesigns. Apart from that, local Fashion Designers working for companies like MASHoldings and Brandix recently came up with some remarkable designs to suit theinternational standards. With all these happening, still the Fashion Design Industry isfinding its place in Sri Lankan economy but currently, it‟s growing at an impressiverate. 6
  8. 8. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry PESTEL AnalysisThe business environment consists of two major parts, the Micro Environment and theMacro Environment. The regular SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities,Threats) Analysis is done on both Micro and Macro Environments. Strengths andWeaknesses come under the Micro Environment where Opportunities and Threatsarise from the Macro Environmental factors. The Macro Environment is oftenanalyzed with PESTEL (Political, Economic, Socio-cultural, Technological,Environmental, Legal) Analysis, which categorizes the external factors.This is a popular and accepted method of presenting analysis reports as it can showeverything in a detailed yet clear way. The categories cover the factors as follows.The political environment of the company includes national and international politicalfactors which can affect its operations. Economic environment can be simply definedas the totality of economic factors, such as employment, income, inflation, interestrates, productivity, and wealth that influence the buying behavior of consumers andinstitutions. The socio-cultural environment of an individual, also called socialcontext, is the culture that the individual was educated and/or lives in, and the peopleand institutions with whom the person interacts. Technological environment is all theexternal factors in technology that impact business operations. Environmental Factorsor the Natural factors are the factors comes from the natural environment and thesurroundings. Legal environment represents the legal factors that affect a company oran individual.In this analysis, we have taken the Political and Legal Factors under one topic as therehave not been many significant changes in both areas. Also, the Economic andTechnological factors lack significant changes. 7
  9. 9. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry Fashion Design Industry and Socio-cultural EnvironmentEffect of Socio-cultural environment on an industrySocio- cultural environment has a great impact on each and every industry more thanother environment factors have. That‟s because the success of any industry dependson how the society welcomes the industry and to what extent it fits the culture.Although some industries are quite successful in some countries, they may fail insome other countries.On the other hand, depending on the ability and skills – especially, the Marketing andInnovatiive Skills – of people involved in a particular industry, it can even change theSocio-cultural Environment. Reason for this is simple. Any industry exists to fulfillthe needs and wants of people and people together build up the society and culture.Therefore, literally, the aim of an industry is basically to fulfill the requirements ofSocio-cultural Environment. An industry should either adapt to the society and theculture or else it should change the society and culture. In one way or another, theindustry should comply with the Socio-cultural Environment.Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry and Socio-cultural FactorsSri Lanka is a developing South Asian country with a male to female ratio of 0.97:1(estimated). Most of the people are working in government and private organizationsand the service sector is more popular in the country‟s economy. All these have agreat influence on how fashions are consumed and marketed in the country. Apartfrom that, with the open economy, high literacy rate and the rapid development in ICTin the last decade, people have been influenced by Fashion in a considerable manner.This has led to a situation in which number of clothing shops in all the parts of thecountry offering the market with numerous choices for those who seek fashionableclothing. This adoption of fashion is mainly based on few vital demographic factorssuch as gender, age, race, income and job as well as on other socio-cultural factorslike attitudes of people, Religious views, income distribution and lifestyles. 8
  10. 10. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry Gender, Fashion and Fashion Design IndustryThis is the basic factor that influences fashion in almost all the parts of the world.Sometime back, Sri Lankan males were not much interested in fashion whencompared with females. Nowadays both males and females are interested infashionable clothing and accessories and lot of choices are there in the market forthem. On the other hand, still some people – specially the older generation - think thatfashion is only for females but not for males.However, currently, on day-to-day streets of urban areas, it‟s quite evident that peopleare into fashion and it does not heavily depend on gender. One good example is theuse of pink coloured clothes. A colour which was reserved for females has nowbecome a fashionable colour worn by both males and females and it is not only incasual wear. Formal office dresses also come in lighter pink colours which areaccepted as decent and impressive in general. Denim fashions are also popular withinboth genders, especially the youth. When it comes to gender‟s influence on clothing,only the basics of clothing remains unchanged (E.g.: Blouses are made for femalesand shirts are for males) but various colours and styles are adopted by both genders.Still, the exposure of body is not much encouraged or accepted in the society and it‟sapplicable for both males and females. Although there are lot of fashion designs ofthat kind which are popular, they do not exceed a certain limit due to cultural reasons.Therefore, the Fashion Designs for Sri Lankan society can be done in many ways andfreely for both males and females. The western clothing methods give a designer lotof freedom on design and decoration of a dress and there are potential customers foralmost all the types of day-to-day clothes in Sri Lanka. Only thing is that a FashionDesigner should be aware of the potential market for a particular product. In thegender aspect, the society can be mainly divided into four parts, namely RuralFemales, Rural Males, Urban Females and Urban Males. Although the fashionapproaches of these four sectors differ according to other factors, the significantdifference is due to the geographical background.In the Fashion Design sector, a large number of females are attracted to the professionand comparatively it‟s higher than the number of males. When it comes to the qualityof designs, both males and females have performed well recently. Still, in the 9
  11. 11. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry corporate sector (E.g. companies like MAS), chief fashion designers who holdmanagerial positions are mostly males and that‟s changing rapidly with the highenrollment of female to the Fashion Academies. Therefore, Fashion and FashionDesign is becoming non-responsive to the gender segregation.The effect of age on Fashion Design IndustryWhen considering the age groups, the ageing population of the country is increasing.According to 2010 estimations, the age variation is as follows. Age Males Females Total 0-14 2757000 2674000 5431000 15-39 4325000 4369000 8694000 40-60 2266000 2352000 4618000 61+ 901000 1009000 1910000Generally, elder people are not that interested in fashion but the younger generation isvery keen to be fashionable and seek the latest fashion designs. Anyhow, the middleaged and younger aged population along with preteens and teens set up about the halfof the country‟s population. Therefore, the market for the fashion designs andfashionable clothing has a huge potential in Sri Lanka. Also, the vast majority of theseage groups are contributing to the labor force and therefore, clothing and fashion is aday-to-day need of their lives.Considering the Fashion Design industry, the younger generation is considerablyinterested in choosing Fashion Design as a profession. It‟s same with Modeling,which is bound with Fashion Design Industry. Eventhough the older people are notquite aware of the field in general and they still don‟t have a vaey pleasant idea onFashion Design Industry, there is lot of young Fashion Designers entering FashionDesign academies and also taking part in Fashion Design competitions. However, theinfluence of parents‟ attitudes towards the industry is an obstacle for many talentedyoungsters with a huge potential in Fashion Design Industry. 10
  12. 12. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry Income, Occupation and Fashion Design IndustryThe consumer behavior hugely depends on income and occupation of people and theconsumption of clothes is affected by these than many other consumer goods. Being aShopping Good under the product classification of Marketing, a dress is purchasedwith lot of planning and comparison. This planning and comparison of quality, priceetc. are directly affected by the income and occupation of the buyer. This is due to theability of purchasing and the environment in which the dress is worn.Many organizations allow females to come in casual or merely formal dresses towork. Anyhow, they are requested to maintain a suitable and a decent dress whichcomplies with the organizational culture and the values of the organization. Therefore,the Fashion Design Industry is provided with a strong potential market for femalecasual wear but there should be a consideration for the country‟s cultural issues andthe expectations of local organizations. Apart from that, the occupation resembles thesocial class and acceptance of a person and that‟s another reason for the occupation tobecome a vital factor in choosing fashion.However, the income of people is also a deciding factor when it comes to purchasingapparel. Sri Lanka is still a developing country with a per capita income of $ 2400.Most of the trendy and fashionable clothing designs are slightly higher in price whencompared with normal clothing solutions. As an example, a good normal blouse canbe bought for a price of Rs. 500.00 but a better design with a silky material wouldcost some additional Rs. 250.00. Therefore, with the income of people, diversity offashion is limited to a part of the society. This can be clearly seen by observing theday-to-day clothing of people from Colombo and suburbs. Lower middle class peopleare limited to a certain pattern of clothing while the middle and upper middle classesdiversify from that pattern upon their income and social background.Moreover, Fashion Design is now gaining popularity as a profession with a highincome. As mentioned earlier, youth is attracted to this industry and it is also anindustry with a high income. Although the income of Sri Lankan Fashion Designers isnot as high as in developed countries, the payments are considerably higher thanmany other local industries. Apart from this, Modeling is also considered as aprofession with the conventional views fading. 11
  13. 13. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry Challenge from the Ethnic and Religious viewsSri Lanka is a multi-racial and multi-cultural South Asian country. More or lessdepending on own religious and racial values, people used to have generally commonidea on the way they dress. However, the adoption of fashion differs significantlywithin different ethnic and religious groups.Because of the Sinhalese majority and Tamils who make up nearly 90% of thecountry‟s population, the saree is one of the most common and popular dressesdespite being extremely impractical for an active and busy lifestyle. Among Tamilwomen, sarees with lot of artwork and vivid colours are popular but Sinhalese womango for plain sarees and sarees without clearly visible artwork with a higher interest inlighter colours. Anyway, the contribution of Fashion Designers in saree market is verypoor when considering the consumption of sarees. Most of the good designs arecoming from India where Sri Lankans have an attitude that Indian imported sarees areof good quality and design. However, the situation changes when it comes to weddingdresses. The Buddhist-Sinhalese culture mostly uses the saree as the traditionalwedding dress and a lot of effort is put in order to make it as beautiful and pleasant aspossible. Therefore, the local Fashion Designers get the opportunity of designingwedding sarees but they still have to compete with the readymade designs which aresuitable as wedding sareers.Indian cultural dresses like shawls and Panjabi dresses are popular among Tamil andMuslim females of 15-40 age group. Most of these are decorated with vivid coloursand patterns which resemble Indian and Arabic artwork. However, the market forthese are limited because of the Sinhalese majority is more interested Westernclothing concepts. Currently, it is seen that the effect of religious and ethnicbackgrounds is losing its grip on people‟s dress. Muslim women can be seen withdenim jeans and they often consider the shawl as a fashionable piece of clothing.All these again change upon the social background. Though the Sri Lankan culturegenerally sees women with miniskirts or deep neck blouses and men with V colorshirts or cargo pants as inappropriate, it is different when it comes to social events likemusical shows or get-togethers. The upper middle class and upper class people arequite comfortable with such dresses and the others also don‟t see it as inappropriate 12
  14. 14. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry when such people wear those dresses. When going deeper into this, it is evident thatpeople from rich Catholic or Christian backgrounds are more into the western dresses.However, for men, there aren‟t many significant differences among various ethnic andreligious groups. Some Muslim men can be seen wearing their traditional Kurtha typeshirts but when it comes to the working people, they also wear Western FormalDresses. Urban Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim men are mostly into global casualclothing.An overview on Socio-cultural impact on Fashion Design IndustryIn the cultural aspect, Sri Lankans generally have a negative attitude on fashion.According to the people in Fashion Design Industry, the first impression of SriLankans towards the word „fashion‟ is mixed with nudity and exposure of the body.Although Fashion Design is basically focused on developing the most suitable fashionor the dress, considering everything such as the person and the environment, it is notwhat Sri Lankans see from the words „Fashion‟ and „Fashion Design‟. Also, there iscriticism towards those who try to think in a positive manner about fashion. This isa major issue that slows down the development of Fashion Design Industry in manyways. On one hand, it keeps people away from using fashion in day-to-day life. Onthe other hand, it keeps talented people from entering the Fashion Design field.MAS Intimates is one good example for that. MAS Intimates, Bodyline and Slimlineare well reputed undergarment manufacturing firms in the world but their market isinternational corporate customers, not the Sri Lankan retail market. Moreover, despitebeing recognized for their superiority in lingerie manufacturing and the soundfinancial background, MAS and Brandix both are not willing to make any majorinvestments in promoting lingerie in Sri Lanka. Though it is gaining popularityamong the new generation, still the market does not have a huge potential for suchsex-related apparel designs. Apart from that, most of the local Fashion Designers paya little attention to undergarments but they focus mainly on day-to-day clothing 13
  15. 15. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry solutions. Considering the fact that the lingerie is considered to be a masterpiece ofFashion Design, the cultural issues are quite damaging in this case.In Sri Lanka, the attitudes of the older generation are quite influential on youth and itmostly comes from parents. This has reduced the popularity of certain fashionconcepts – especially the dresses which uncover the body „too much‟ – among youth.This is a threat and a limiting factor for the contemporary Fashion Designers incoming up with suitable designs for the Sri Lankan market.Recent Changes in the Socio-cultural EnvironmentChanges in attitudeThe above mentioned attitude towards fashion with the idea of nudity and sex can stillbe seen within the older generation of Sri Lanka. This attitude of parents and otherelders has led to many unnecessary worries and it causes the younger generation toavoid certain fashion concepts and also it keeps youngsters from entering the fashionDesign industry. However, over the last few years, these have become generalizedand people are starting to look at Fashion and Fashion Design Industry with a moreopen mid.The conventional attitude of fashion being something that is reserved for women isalso fading in the Sri Lankan society. Not only colourful clothes but also fancyaccessories are worn by men with hair styles have also found their place among SriLankan males. Best example is the above stated Pink colour. On the other hand,exports from countries like Thailand which are highly exposed to the internationalmarkets are quite popular in Sri Lankan apparel market. Because of this, the globaltrends became very popular in the country. One such fashion is casual shirts withprinted wordings and graphics. Lot of people has moved from plain shirts to thesefancy shirt designs. Same with denim jeans. Nowadays, lot of Sri Lankans wearstylish denims with patterns etc. instead of plain denims. 14
  16. 16. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry Fashion showsFashion shows have become a social event by now. Few years ago, it was generallyconsidered as inappropriate for the country‟s culture but not anymore. Even higher education institutes organize Fashion shows in order to attain various objectives. These objectives cover a wide range from fund raising to public awareness and mere entertainment. As an example, Sri Lanka national cricket team took part in a charity fashion show called Light of change in 2010 which drew Sri Lankan cricketers at Light of Change lot of attention and money. This was organized byMAS Holdings to assist rural youth through a sound corporate education. SILK ANDSPICE Charity fashion show in London and Colombo is also focused on raisingfunds for Educate A Child Trust.Meanwhile, many organizations use fashion shows as an entertainment function aswell as a promotional tool. It can be seen that certain product launches and openingceremonies are followed by fashion shows, though the product or the place has nodirect connection to fashion.Effect of Ethical FashionIn the Fashion Design Industry, the global trend towards ethical fashion has been veryinfluential over the last few years. This is more or less a Micro Environmental changebut the reasons behind this change are mostly Socio-cultural factors. ‘Garmentswithout Guilt - The Ethos of the Sri Lankan Apparel Industry’, epitomizes the synergybetween ethical brands and apparel made in Sri Lanka. The code of ethical fashion inSri Lanka has been thoroughly practiced by almost all the apparel manufacturers andespecially by the companies like MAS and Brandix. Moreover, Sri Lankalaunched the South East Asia‟s first Ethical Fashion week with the launch of HSBCColombo Fashion Week for the seventh consecutive year in February 2011. Apartfrom that, The Ethical Fashion Symposium is organized by Sri Lanka Design Festival,Sri Lanka‟s premier Fashion Design event. Meanwhile, the reputed Fashion ChainOdel launched their brand Embark as a fundraiser for kennel welfare programme. 15
  17. 17. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry Fashion Education and SocietyOver a decade ago, the Fashion Designers of Sri Lanka mostly came from rich, upperclass families and they were drawn to the industry mainly because of their likenessand passion towards Fashion Design. However, nowadays, middle class and uppermiddle class people are also seeking their paths in fashion Design Industry as it hasbecome a profession with a lot of potential for creative minds. The education industryhas also taken necessary measures to fulfill their needs by starting few fashionacademies and starting various Fashion Design courses. From basic sewing courses toFashion Design Degrees, these are followed by hundreds of youth.University of Moratuwa offers two degrees of this sector. One of them is the FashionDesign and Textile Development degree from the Faculty of Engineering and theother one is the Design (Architecture) degree from the Faculty of Architecture. Thelatter is a degree with 6 specialization fields with Fashion Design being one of them.Apart from that, the Academy of Design and LIFT Academy are leading the SriLanka‟s private fashion education field. All these provide their students withprofessional knowledge as well as fashion shows and experience to mould them tosuit the international standards. 16
  18. 18. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry Political and Legal Environments related to Fashion DesignLegal side in Fashion Design IndustryFashion is a general term for a currently popular style or practice, especially inclothing, foot wear, or accessories. Fashion references to anything that is the currenttrend in look and dress up of a person. The more technical term costume, has becomeso linked in the public eye with the term fashion that the more general term"costume" has in popular use mostly been relegated to special senses like fancy dressor masquerade wear, while the term "fashion" means clothing generally, and the studyof it. This is useful when setting up and understanding the legal and political termsand practices used in Fashion Design field. As any other industry, Fashion Designalso has certain legal concerns.Intellectual Property RightsTo take inspiration from others designs contributes to the fashion industrys ability toestablish clothing trends. For the past few years WGSN (Fashion Forecaster) hasbeen a dominant source of fashion news and forecasts in steering fashion brandsworldwide to be inspired by one another. Enticing consumers to buy clothing byestablishing new trends is, some have argued, a key component of the industryssuccess. Intellectual property rules that interfere with the process of trend-makingwould be counter-productive on this view. In contrast, it is often argued that theblatant theft of new ideas, unique designs, and design details by larger companies iswhat often contributes to the failure of many smaller or independent designcompanies. Moreover, the intellectual property rights ensure a satisfactory income andjob security for Fashion Designers.However, not only Fashion Designers but all the design artists in Sri Lanka barelyhave this legal protection. Within the fashion industry, intellectual property is notenforced as it is within the film industry or the music industry and the protectionwhich they get from the legal measures and political policies are literally zero. Untilnow, Sri Lanka could not come up with a suitable law to protect Fashion Designersspecifically. Considering the fact that this is an emerging industry with a considerable 17
  19. 19. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry growth and lot of interest among people, it is crucial that the government should takenecessary measures to protect Fashion Designers and their intellectual property rights.Many Fashion Designers do not get proper payments for their designs and also thisissues has caused a number of talented people to become part time Fashion Designerswho works upon contracts. This is obviously a discouraging factor for any designartist.The need of a professional bodyProfessional Bodies is a globally accepted and used concept for the betterment ofindustries. These are either government or mostly independent associations consist ofprofessionals in a particular field. This is widely used in Sri Lanka as well. One goodexample is the Institute of Engineers Sri Lanka (IESL) which represents thechartered Engineers of the country. They have the authority to give the acceptance asa Chartered Engineer and at the same time,they represent Engineers in legal or any otherissue. These professional bodies often set thestandards for the related field and they alsoprovide certain facilities to uplift the living andworking conditions of the field‟s professionals.The Techno Exhibition organized by the IESLis one example fo this. It encourages people to Robogames at Techno 2011 Exhibition saw many Engineering Undergraduatescome up with innovative ideas while providing showcasing their talentsa platform for the country‟s engineering field exhibits. After all, when all get togetherin a form of a legal body, they can be quite influential in fighting for their rights.However, the Sri Lankan Fashion Designers and all the other design artists except forArchitects lack a legal body to represent them. Although Fashion Design has beentaught for a period of almost a decade, still neither the government nor the FashionDesigners have taken any initiatives to set up a professional body. This is also vital inmaintaining sound inter-personal relationships within the professionals. Currently,most of the Sri Lankan Fashion Designers are left alone form the rest. Mostimportantly, the lack of a legal representation has weakened them in gaining their 18
  20. 20. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry rights such as the Intellectual Property Rights. On the other hand, many Sri LankanFashion Designers does not have the financial background to represent importantglobal events like the Paris Fashion Week. Usually, other Professional Bodies assisttheir professionals in gaining access to the globe. Apart from these, there isn‟t anofficial benchmark Fashion Show which is organized by Fashion Designers. All theFashion Shows and competitions are organized by educational institutes or otherinstitutes.Political side in Fashion Design IndustryEver since the Fashion Design Industry was introduced to Sri Lanka, there has notbeen any significant contribution form the political environment. It is notable that thecountry‟s political policies are not at all focused on Fashion Design Industry.Considering the fact that the country‟s income hugely depends on Apparel Industry, itis sad to see that politicians are not interested in developing the Fashion DesignIndustry. The reason behind might be the lesser influential power of FashionDesigners and other Design Artists on people when compared with singers and actorsetc.. Therefore, benefit oriented Sri Lankan politicians have nothing much to gain byhelping Fashion Designers.Since a change in law is usually initiated by the government, depending on itspolitical policies, the legal protection for Fashion Designers is still far away. On theother hand, even the opposition parties are not interested in uplifting the FashionDesign Industry. Political policies on nature and environment should also empowerand encourage Eco Fashion concepts. Recently, Sri Lankan Fashion DesignerVidhura Ralapanawe was shortlisted with four other foreigners to be selected for thefamous Honda Dream Factory but the government could not be seen taking anynotable effort in order to assist him. It is evident that a prope political propaganda isessential from all the parties to develop the Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industrywithout which the final result is a slowdown in Fashion Design Industry‟sdevelopment. 19
  21. 21. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry Natural Environment, Go-Green and Fashion DesignThe effect of Seasons and Climate on Fashion and Sri Lankan Fashion DesignersIn European and American markets which usually set the benchmarks, fashionchanges with the seasons. When designing a dress, a Fashion Designer has to thinkabout so many things from the material to the matching colors and that hugely dependon environmental changes. Therefore, apparel manufacturers and Fashion Designershave to focus on weather and the seasons. Especially, the Summer fashions andWinter Fashions are notable in changing the dressing patterns and styles of people. Winter Fashion Designs (three photos in the left) and Summer Fashion Designs (three photos in the right) are totally different and should be created considering lot of factorsBut Sri Lankan fashion designers do not have to focus much on the seasonal changeswhen designing for the local market. This is because Sri Lankans do not choosefashions according to seasons like winter, summer, etc. and the only significantseasonal change here are the rainy seasons. However, this has not created a change inattire and dressing patterns of people as in countries with notable seasonal climatechanges.They lack the awareness and knowledge to target on seasonal climate changes whichcreates a huge market once in few months. Another concern is that a Designer from acountry like Sri Lanka should either has the influencial power and financialbackground or else a superb talent and awareness to come up with a noteworthydesign for these seasonal changes. Therefore, this has become a barrier when localFashion Designers are entering the global market. 20
  22. 22. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry Go-Green, Eco Fashion Concept and Sri Lankan Fashion Design IndustryThe term Ethical Fashion represents an approach to the design, sourcing andmanufacture of clothing which maximizes benefits to people and communities whileminimizing impact on the environment. Under this comes the Eco Fashion which is abroader term used for all clothing, fabrics and accessories that have beenmanufactured in an environmentally conscious way. This is part of the Go-GreenconceptOrganic and recycled clothing as well as garments made using a wide range of ecofabrics now available in the global market, though it is not yet popular in Sri Lanka.All these come under the Eco Fashion concept. Technological developments in thetextile sector have caused the environmentally friendly textiles to become a viablealternative to conventional fabrics.However, Sri Lankan Fashion Designers have not been asked to follow these SriLankan market has some brands like Brandix and MAS that practice Eco Fashionconcept but the Sri Lankan market is not yet ready to accept these as essentials. Also,the rules and regulations are not officially set to harness these practices. Even theFashion Design Academies are not focused on teaching and promoting these practiceswhen compared with developed countries.However, the overall green and eco fashion approach of Sri Lankan Fashion DesignIndustry is in a satisfactory level despite the lack or support from the public and thegovernment. This is mainly due to the developed countries with which Sri LankanApparel manufacturers deal with. Since these foreign clients expect their suppliers tofollow the internationally accepted standards, Sri Lankan Apparel Industry have takennecessary measures to meet those standards. Fashion Design, which is a part of it isfollowing these measures. 21
  23. 23. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry Sri Lanka’s place in Eco Fashion Though the Sri Lankan market is not interested in Eco friendly products and production methods, the Sri Lankan Apparel and Fashion Design Industries have placed themselves in a fairly high position among the other countries. As mentioned earlier, this is led by few leading Apparel Manufacturers such as MAS Holdings, Brandix and Hidramani Group. Following them, the whole Apparel Manufacturing Industry is moving along a greener path Vidhura Ralapanawe, the while the Fashion Designers contribute in a similar designer of worlds first Carbon Neutral Bra manner. In 2009 and 2010 respectively, Brandix GreenApparel Factory in Seeduwa and MAS Thurulie Factory in Seeduwa were awardedthe Platinum rating by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design(LEED).Taking this another giant step forward, Manager ofSustainability and Communications at MAS Intimates,Vidhura Ralapanawe from the above mentioned MASThurulie Factory has led the local team that designed andproduced the Autograph Leaves Collection Multiway Brawhich is considered as the world‟s first Carbon Neutral Bra.This is made for the prominent Mark & Spenser Company anda true Fashion Designer‟s approach is behind the production. Worlds first Carbon Neutral bra, made byFrom the design to the material and production methods, MAS Intimates for Mark & Spensereverything has been planned and done precisely to keep theCarbon Neutral State.n This has allowed him to contest for a place at the HondaDream Factory as a ‘Cultural Engineer’, a global project to gather people withnoteworthy contributions towards sustainable development.The only concern is the lack of designing opportunities available for Sri Lankanfashion Designers. This is due to the nature of Sri Lankan Apparel Industry which ismostly focused on manufacturing rather than production with designing. 22
  24. 24. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry Effect of Economic Factors on Fashion Design IndustryPlace of Fashion Design Industry in Sri Lankan economyAbout 10 years ago Fashion Designing was not a recognized career as few peoplewere engaged in it. But nowadays fashion design has become very popular amongyounger generation as a profession. In competitive world fashion designers havegained a great social status. Similarly, in Si Lanka also the Fashion Design Industry isgaining a status as a respected and special profession with a lot of potential. However,it is still a part of other mainstream industries such as Apparel Industry and BridalDressing etc.Since the direct contribution form the Fashion Design Industry to the country‟seconomy is not significant as other mainstream industries and there is a handfulengaged in Fashion Design, the effect of Economic factors on Fashion Design is alsonot high. There are few main jobs available in Fashion Design as follows but only fewof these can be found in Sri Lanka.Fashion designer They create new styles for clothing by sketching original designs and responsible for selecting fabrics, trimmings, current update on the latest fabrics and fitting the finished clothing to its proper size. The designer usually starts the designing work only after market research.Fashion coordinator A fashion coordinator‟s work includes checking fabric for correct shade, quality and design, sorting daily problems, giving advice on latest fashion trends, meeting with buyers and taking right decisions regarding fabric design, color. Fashion Coordinator may be supposed to travel to get an idea of the fashion trends.Illustrator Draws free hand sketches as per designers ideas and at times interacts with customers about new collection.Fashion consultant Fashion consultant has to be aware of the latest trends in the fashion industry. They offer suggestions on how to further develop a product. 23
  25. 25. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry Cutting Assistant Cutting Assistant cut and modifies samples as per specifications of the designer.Fashion Stylist Fashion Stylist area involves coordinating the dress, accessory, make-up, and hairstyle as per the theme of a show or an event.Costume Designer Costume Designers usually work for movies and dancing crews etc. in order to provide the crew with appropriate and scientifically designed costumes.In Sri Lankan Economy, mainly Fashion Designers can be found. Even though it isthe practice of foreign firms to employ qualified people with knowledge in FashionDesign for other jobs too, here the situation is different due to the cost factor.Consultation is mostly done by a manager and cutting assistants are mostly theexperienced workers those who do not possess a wide awareness on FashionDesigning.However, they are not getting extremely high incomes as the foreign FashionDesigners. One major reason for this is that the local Fashion Designers are notmarketing themselves and opportunities for them to market themselves and theirdesigns are rare in Sri Lankan Economy. In the economic stream, the vast majority ofqualified fashion Designers either choose another profession while doing FashionDesign as a part time job or go abroad seeking better jobs in Europe etc.. The rest joinsome other industries like wedding planning or bridal dressing while a few get theopportunity to join local Apparel Manufacturing companies. Only a handful likeearlier mentioned Ruchira Karunaratne establishe themselves as Fashion Designers.On the other hand, costume designers also have a little part to do when it comes to thefilm industry or dancing troops. Popular dancing academies like Channa-Upulie arenot always seeking the assistance of Fashion Designers. Considering the Channa-Upulie Academy, the chief fashion Designer of their dancing crew is the founder andfamous dancer Channa Wijewardena himself. With the low budgets allowed by theeconomy of the country and commercial value which has become the major concern,film industry also does not seek professional help in costume designing. This has ledto many mismatches in movie scenes and also in tele-dramas but only a mega scaleproduction like Aba sees a professional Fashion Designer as the costume designer. 24
  26. 26. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry Technological Environment and Fashion Design IndustrySri Lanka has not reached a high place in technological development. Anyhow, theApparel Industry and therefore the fashion Design Industry too have reached asatisfactory level. This is mainly due to the developed countries which act as clientsfor Sri Lankan apparel products.Modern Technology and its effectAs any other design field, Fashion Design has also reached a state where it uses thelatest technology when it comes to drawing and designing. With Computer AidedDrawing (CAD) to the internationally recognized Rotring and Staedtler drawingequipment, Sri Lanka has got almost everything for a fashion Designer to use. Alsothe research and product development sectors have been developed to meet the highinternational standards. A good example is the previously mentioned Green Bradesigned by MAS Intimates. This was done with a lot of background studies andlatest technology to determine the carbon footprint of the product. Related to these,the whole Apparel industry is focusing on sustainability and green concepts, forcingFashion Designers to focus more and more on Eco fashion.Craft Based Fashion Design TechniquesWith these Eco Fashion concepts gaining popularity, there‟s a trend to promote localarts. Because of all these and the increasing demand for uniqueness and hand craftedquality, Craft based fashion has reached the lime light within the past few years.Under this, the traditional design and production techniques such as Handloomweaving, Batik, Beeralu lace and Hand knitting have made a strong comeback to theapparel market. Simultaneously, Fashion Designers have been influenced by these intheir casualwear designs. As a result, the essence of Batiks and lace patterns can beseen in modern casualwear. However, apart from these, ther has not been anysignificant development in the related Technological Environment in Sri LankanFashion Design Industry. 25
  27. 27. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry Developing the Sri Lankan Fashion Design IndustryThere are number of measures that can be taken in order to develop the Sri LankanFashion Design Industry. Since the industry is still in its developing era, these arevital and also should be taken as soon as possible. Following are some suggestionswhich can be used to uplift the standards of the industry. Enforcing legal protection for fashion DesignsConsidering the developed countries, there are laws to protect almost everything andit is applicable to the Fashion Design Industry as well. Design Piracy Prohibition Actwhich is an Act to amend title 17 to the United States Code, to extend protection tofashion design and for other purposes and Stop Counterfeiting in ManufacturedGoods Act which amends the United States federal criminal code to revise provisionsprohibiting the trafficking in counterfeit can be taken as two good examples ofprotecting the design rights of Fashion Designers.However, currently the Sri Lankan intellectual property rights field is functioningvery weakly and immediate actions should be taken by the government to ensure thelegal protection for intellectual property, including Fashion and Clothing Designs. Setting up a Professional Body to represent Fashion DesignersAs mentioned earlier, a Professional Body is a vital factor in developing andsafeguarding an industry. Anyhow, Sri Lankan Fashion Designers are yet to beformed as an accepted legal entity. Over the last decade, at least 1000 FashionDesigners have been produced by Sri Lanka but they still lack a Professional Bodyand pre-set standards that match the country.Therefore, either the government or an accepted institute like University of Moratuwaor Academy of Design should take the initiative to form a legal association torepresent either Fashion Designers or Design Artists in a whole. 26
  28. 28. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry  Promoting Fashion Design through career guidance programmes in schoolsNowadays it has become a common practice to have career guidance programmes forschool children and school leavers. These can be used to draw the attention ofyoungsters and also to raise the awareness among adults on Fashion Design Industry.This can also be used to identify the young talent and creativity which can be furtherdeveloped. It is important as still Sri Lanka teenagers do not have the willingness tobecome a Fashion Designer when compared with the willingness to enter othercommon and socially accepted professions like Doctors, Engineers and Managers.With this, it is possible to get more people seeking entrance to the Fashion DesignField, thus enhancing the standards through competition while forcing the society andother related industries to give the acceptance to Fashion Design as a mainstreamindustry. Giving a proper Marketing and Management knowledge for Fashion DesignersManagement skills and qualifications are becoming essential to survive in the fastmoving modern business world. It is similar with the Fashion Design Industry,causing the Fashion Designers with the management skills to have a competitive edgeover the others. Marketing skills and knowledge is even more important, especiallyfor those who wish to build up a “name” and a sound income through Fashion Design.However, the Sri Lankan Fashion Designers lack both management and marketingskills, thus resulting in inability to market or rather brand themselves in the market.Even the Design (Architecture) Degree in University of Moratuwa, which is the onlygovernment degree that offers the specialization in Fashion Design and the oldestdegree of its kind doesn‟t focus much on Marketing or Management Skills. Marketingis taught only as a subject module before starting the specialization. Other institutesare not much different in this case. Therefore, it is useful to teach Fashion Designundergraduates Marketing with a good practice and awareness on how to applymarketing and Branding skills to the present day Fashion Design Industry. 27
  29. 29. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry  Educating Fashion Designers on Seasonal Changes and potential foreign marketsUnderstanding and knowing the foreign markets and their trends is vital in winningthe international market. However, Sri Lankans face a difficulty in understandingSeasonal changes in Fashion because Sri Lankans are not used to those. Therefore, aproper study should be done on foreign seasonal clothing styles in order to make localdesigners aware of it. This can be easily done through the degrees etc. by assigningthem with tasks to study those. Developing other related fieldsSri Lankan movie and teledrama awarding ceremonies and other felicitationceremonies should focus more on acknowledging Fashion and Costume designs.Currently, it is not done in a satisfactory way. If there‟s an award dedicated forcostume designing, producers will definitely be encouraged to spend some extraamount of money in order to win another award which ultimately uplifts the movie‟sreputation. Promoting Fashion Designs through social and international eventsEvents like Hikka Fest and Film Festivals, etc. can be used as ideal opportunities topromote Fashion Design Industry both locally and internationally. Considering theHikka Fest which annually draws a huge foreign attraction, a Fashion Show which isorganized simultaneously to the festival can be an ideal platform to showcase localFashion Designs. It is also helpful to come up with foreign market oriented FashionDesigns and beachwear etc. and to study the response of foreigners. 28
  30. 30. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry  Raising the awareness on fashion among publicOne noteworthy step taken by Hameedia recently is advising people on how to dressand how to use fashion in order to get the best out of it. Likewise, other Fashion storesand also Fashion Designers and Social Services organizations can take initiatives tohelp public understanding the true value and the meaning of Fashion and the properuse of it.On the other hand, the Fashion Designers also have to be educated on the thecountry‟s demand and how to fulfill the needs within the country. This can also beeasily done through the educational institutes. Also, esteemed organizations with areputation in Fashion Design like Rebel and Hameedia should be taken to thisprocess. 29
  31. 31. Sri Lankan Fashion Design Industry AcknowledgementsOur heartfelt gratitude for the following people who helped us in various aspects…Ms. Anupama NawalageLecturer / CoordinatorDesign (Architecture) Degree - Fashion Design SectionFaculty of ArchitectureUniversity of MoratuwaMr. Madushanka WickramasingheUndergraduateDesign (Architecture) DegreeFaculty of ArchitectureUniversity of MoratuwaMs. Aurasi RanasingheUndergraduateDesign (Architecture) DegreeFaculty of ArchitectureUniversity of MoratuwaMs. Ayomi JayaweeraHigher DiplomaLanka Institute of Fashion Design 30