To create a global impact with the Sri Lankan fashion design industry is the key vision of Colombo Fashion Week, a developmental project that aims to bring about progressive change to every aspect of the fashion industry in Sri Lanka. A movement that started over ten years ago, Colombo Fashion Week gained much needed momentum at the end of the last decade and has, in a systematic manner, created formats that demand transformation across the key pillars that would define a fashion industry.
An efficient fashion eco-system that incubates the best of Sri Lankan fashion design before it is presented to the world is the mission that Colombo Fashion Week has given itself. It starts from designer development to fabric development and then includes retail programmes, a programme for international exposure, media development, intellectual properties, craft development, and a Fashion Design Fund to create resources. Every aspect that contributes to what is known as a progressive fashion industry is carefully evaluated, so that every part plays a role like a well-oiled machine.
Colombo Fashion Week carries a mantle and a responsibility towards Sri Lanka's fashion design industry as its only voice and has come to be known as the backbone of the industry. This year, like in the past, Colombo Fashion Week strongly marches forward declaring its intention of breaking new ground for Sri Lanka's fashion design industry in the world of fashion.
Ajai started his journey in fashion 15 years ago. Since then, he has unfolded his vision into a carefully crafted plan to revive and to enhance the fashion design industry of Sri Lanka. He used the challenges and constraints of an underdeveloped fashion environment into opportunities that has served the industry well. The challenges of the Civil war and post-war only strengthened his resolve to give fashion an identity in Sri Lanka. The entire format and structure of Colombo Fashion Week in Sri Lanka is unique and was developed here. This format is now being followed elsewhere in the region too.
Ajai has fathered a movement that has built pride in Sri Lankan designers, which Sri Lankan fashion consumers now buy with joy, something that was missing just 10 years ago. 90% of Sri Lankan designers that we see today are the product of CFW’s development system. The designer mentorship programs, the retail presentations and Ethical Fashion day are just some of the initiatives, which are used to differentiate Sri Lankan fashion designers.
While fashion is in Ajai's DNA, ethical or 'good fashion' as he likes to call it, is very close to Ajai's heart. In 2006 he coined the phrase 'Garments Without Guilt' which has been the mainstay of Sri Lanka Apparels marketing position.
In 2015, he was instrumental in starting the Fashion Design Council Sri Lanka, to give Sri Lankan designers a formal structure. Colombo Fashion Week is one of four fashion weeks in Asia that is over 10 years old.
Prasad Bidapa’s love for Sri Lanka is reflected in his commitment and dedication to execute and bring alive every Colombo Fashion Week, guided by Ajai’s vision and strategize with management to push boundaries and reach new heights. His experience and work in India’s fashion industry for the last 30 years makes him a force to be reckoned with and is an extremely valuable resource enabling Colombo Fashion Week to get closer to its overall vision of making an impact in the international fashion market. Apart from his extensive knowledge on the topic of fashion, he remains one of India’s fashion design industry’s biggest icons.
Dirk Flamer-Caldera, a businessman by experience and profession is the founder of several listed and private companies in Sri Lanka, such as Asia Capital Limited, Asian Alliance Insurance Company Limited and Connaissance De Ceylan Limited. Dirk’s knowledge of the fashion retail industry serves the company well as he has been involved in fashion retail in the USA, and built and operated garment factories in Sri Lanka.
His vast knowledge of business is an asset. Among other things, he is currently focused on developing talent management in Sri Lanka and uplifting the next generation with personality and skill set enhancement and management. The new related venture is The Agency, Sri Lanka's first multi-pronged talent management company and a one-stop resource.