Northern Steps ahead with Fashion Tourism

Workshop on Fashion Designing for the Clothing Sector from 15th – 18th March 2021

Thematic tourism topics such as Sport Tourism, Religious Tourism, Cultural Tourism is so common in the field of travel today. Yet the term Fashion Tourism is comparatively new to the scene where it has lots of potentials in the modern world. Fashion is a part of the daily air and it changes all the time, with all the events. You can even see the approaching of a revolution in clothes. You can see and feel everything in clothes.

Thousand’s years ago, travel and tourism were evolved through the Silk Route, nowadays world talks about Silk Route Tourism. Northern, Sri Lanka fulfils all requirements to develop Fashion Tourism with the availability of traditional clothing industries in beautiful untouched villages.

Fashion tourism covers traveling to and staying in places outside the usual environment to experiment, enjoy, and purchase fashion. This is a niche market that has emerged as the combination of two major sectors namely, the cultural tourism and shopping tourism. Understanding the context, Northern Tourism stepped ahead growing the seeds to harvest the fashion travellers to Northern Province by strengthening the clothing cluster. Professionals of Singer Fashion Academy took the challenge of providing the primary knowledge on Fashion Tourism for the selected clothing societies in Mullaitivu, Jaffna and Vavuniya districts.

Accordingly, 65 weavers and tailors including 61 women from four societies namely Jaffna District Textile Weavers Cooperative Society, Mulliyawalai Handloom Weavers Cooperative Society combined with Kadda Vinayagar Thrift and Credit Cooperative Society, Pandiyankulam Handloom Weavers Cooperative Society and Tailors in Vavuniya District combined with Kovilkulam Thrift and Credit Cooperative Society attended for this pilot programme.

Jaffna District Textile Weavers Coop Society attending the programme on 15th March 2021

Weavers and Tailors from Pandiyankulam Handloom Weavers Cooperative Society attending the programme held on 17th March at the Pandiyankulam Divisional Secretariat Auditorium

Tailors in Vavuniya District combined with Kovilkulam Thrift and Credit Cooperative Society attending the programme on 18th March 2021

Basics of Fashion Designing was given to the enthusiastic women in North engaged in the clothing sector as a fore step for the fashion tourism….

Ms. Sheridan Perera, Trainer, Singer Fashion Academy explaining the stages of textile production to Jaffna District Textile Weavers Coop Society

Mrs. Perera, Trainer of Singer Fashion Academy explaining the basics in Fashion Designing to the tailors in Vavuniya

Addressing Pandiyankulam Weavers and Tailors on 17th March 2021

Fashion is indeed the most prominent trend of this generation. The current generation makes their revolution, their thoughts, and their feelings all known through the style that they accept. Thus, when the fashion responsiveness of a particular country matches their own, people are naturally drawn towards to explore more of the options. The concept of a mood board was introduced by the trainer to the audience to begin with the specific tasks of training.

Ms. Perera, introducing the mood board to the participants at to Jaffna District Textile Weavers Coop Society

In spite of the world going global, there is also the fact that not everything is available everywhere yet. There are certain items and even designer labels that are not accessible beyond the boundaries of particular countries.

Naturally, fashion enthusiasts are attracted towards such location to fill up on their quota of fashion and also have some sightseeing on the sides. Therefore, introducing a new fashion to their existing product lines will give definite success in future tourism opportunities explained at the session.

Trainer emphasised that the style is something each of us already has but all we need to do is to find it. The participants actively engaged in understanding the mood board concept during the programme.

Trainer introducing a sketched basic mood board to the tailers and weavers at the Pandiyankulam Society.

Mrs. Sheridan Perera explaining a fashion design created based on the famous Lotus Tower, Sri Lanka mixing the shapes and colours of a lotus as well as the unique tower…

A fashion mood board is a collage. A visual summary of inspirational images, objects, material swatches, trims, or product examples that explain the concept and feeling of a specific brand, collection, or customer. Participants engaged in creating their own designed in the mood boards provided.

Weavers at to Jaffna District Textile Weavers Coop Society creating their own fashions….

Young tailor in Vavuniya creating the designs in the mood board……

Weavers in Pandiyankulam, creating a fashion in the mood board provided….

Before the next season of tourism starts, it is required all these weavers and tailors designing the ideal fashions required to cater to the tourism industry. It will be used as a visual diary of details and inspirations that will later serve as a guideline and constant source of further inspiration while finalising the new collection.

Training was able to collect the ideas of the tailors and weavers systematically in order to make sense on what exactly a local or domestic tourist / customer expect from their creative designs. The weavers were able to focus their minds on aesthetic, style, and direction of the collection, while also relaying the colour influences and design area.

“The fashion mood board should also be treated as a tool to refresh your mind. One that enables you to return to it throughout the designing process and to discover something new. This will enable you to create a collection that’s imbued with multiple layers of depth and visual interest” highlighted by the trainers at the programme.

The enthusiastic tailors and weavers actively engaged in creating the mood boards grabbing the essentials in designing using the knowledge provided by the project in previous colouring trainings.

A weaver of Jaffna District Textile Weavers Coop Society designing a saree….

A design made by Pandiyankulam Weaver….

A design made by Pandiyankulam Tailouring women at the programme….

Mrs. Ms.Sheridan Perera, trainer from Singer Fashion Academy guiding a weaver in Jaffna

A design created by a tailor in Vavuniya using the shapes and colours of a bird….

Northern Province Tourism Bureau actively participated at the programme providing the necessary guidance from the tourism promotion and development aspects. Ms. Rakavi Ramesh represented Northern Province Tourism Bureau at the programme.

Ms. Rakavi Ramesh assisting the participants at the programme….

EFECS Project in collaboration with Singer Fashion Academy provided all required materials for the training. The feedbacks were taken using a standard evaluation form used by the project.

Mrs. Kanchana Perera, Assistant Manager, Singer Fashion Academy, assisting the participants in Vavuniya

A weaver in Pandiyankulam making notes during the programme…

Ms. T. Saageny, Women Development Officer, SANASA Uththamavi was dedicated to empower the women entrepreneurs during the programme.

Ms. T. Saageny, Women Development Officer, SANASA Uththamavi briefing the tailors in Vavuniya about the way forward….

Trainers of Singer Fashion Academy gave individual attention on each and every participant creative understanding the areas of improvement.

Trainer, assisting the students to make creative designs in Vavuniya.

Trainer inspecting the work of the participants in Jaffna….

Paying individual attention on the trainees in Pandiyankulam, Mullaitive.

Enthusiastic young women entrepreneurs created new designs using the mood boards.

Women tailor from Vavuniya designing a blue colour dress….

Women weaver from Jaffna making a new saree design……

Three decades of civil war in Sri Lanka ended in May 2009, making more than 450,000 people homeless. Not only the displacement, but also, they lost their family assets as well as professions and lead to poverty. Twelve years after that massive destruction, now the people are starting to grow their income avenues. Affected women in north is required more attention and consultation in getting into money making avenues. Entrepreneurship has become the living godship for the poverty in Northern Province.

Pandiyanlulam has a unique skilled labour waiting to be introduced to the world…..

Still the basic infrastructure developments are ongoing in most of the areas. Pandiyankulam is one of the areas still the basic infrastructure is under development. Transportation has become a major issue due to the unavailability of proper bus service. The road network is in the process and villagers are facing lots of challenges due to the poor infrastructure.

Creations of Pandiyankulam weavers and tailors in Mullaitivu District

Jaffna District Textile Weavers Cooperative Society too was a strong establishment before the war where they manufactured and supplied a massive quantity of cloths to Northern and Out Regions of Sri Lanka. Yet, the buildings and infrastructure were completely damaged during the war whereas still the society is struggling to re-construct the factory into the previous status. Once developed properly, the factory has the capacity to give opportunities for over 500 women to be employed in future. The destruction of the dying plant as well as the handloom section has decreased the capacity of the factory. At present, the factory is looking for investors to re-develop the establishment to provide more employments to the women.

Participant, expressing ideas at the wrap up session of Jaffna District Textile Weavers Cooperative Society in Jaffna

“This workshop will be a successful beginning for a new journey which you could drive a customer focus manufacturing process. There are number of opportunities from the outer tourism markets awaiting to buy your products if you create what they expect. Therefore, I believe this programme will open a door to earn good returns through more diversified product range in future” said Ms. Harshi Abeynayake, Value Chain Officer (Tourism) addressing the weavers in Jaffna District Textile Weavers Cooperative Society in Jaffna.

Ms. Harshi Abeynayake, Value Chain Officer (Tourism), EFECS Project and Mr. Stanley Mascarenhas, Chairman, Northern Province Tourism Bureau addressing the audience at the Wrap-Up Session of Jaffna District Textile Weavers Cooperative Society in Jaffna

Northern Province Tourism Bureau is assisting number of new investors to focus on Northern Province, and they have proposed to conduct events with rising trends such as shopping festivals and exhibitions focussing on the local and foreign tourism once the tourism is back. I believe you will have many opportunities in future said Ms. Abeynayake, addressing the tailors and weavers in Pandiyankulam, Mullaitivu.

The modern tourist is no longer only attracted by the scenic beauty of the typical tourism packages. We, northern Province of Sri Lanka identified this shift and modified our approach to draw in more tourists to north in Fashion Tourism. During this pandemic time period, we were able to be more equipped in knowledge to take a considerable turn in the industry” said Ms. Harshi Abeynayake addressing the tailors in Vavuniya. All participants will provide the mood boards for their next evaluation before 20th April 2021 and the successful mood bords will be approved to convert to a live dress which can be presented to the trade soon in a fashion contest.

Tailors from Pandiyankulam, Mullaitivu and Vavuniya setting for a group photo with their new fashions