Uniting the clothing supply chain for future tourism breaks

Workshop on tailoring tourism-based products from 08th – 10th March 2021

EFECS Project is basically working on a specific value chain to understand the best methodologies of improving sustainable financial and business management by stakeholders particularly women, in the northern region of Sri Lanka. Traditional Clothing Industry was recognised under the Amenity Cluster of the Tourism Value Chain where the clothing handicrafts, hotel sector clothing products as well as the tourist-based garments can be made using locally made raw materials and labour that are much popular among the tourists. Northern Province Clothing Weavers used to sell raw cloths or basic products such as bedsheets, sarees into the domestic market at a nominal price without considering their cost and value.

Understanding the gaps in the clothing industry, EFECS Project lead a programme to connect the weavers with the tailors ultimately to supply the products into the Northern Hotels and the tourists visiting the area. Since the existing tailors had a very poor idea about the potentials in the tourism industry, the project conducted a 03-day technical programme to introduce tourism-based products including the practical knowledge on basic tailoring.

Programme was held at the Training Centre of District Rural Development in Vavuniya with the participation of 24 women tailors in Vavuniya including the members of the Kovilkulam Thrift and Credit Cooperative Society in Vavuniya. Singer Fashion Academy which is a renowned capacity building agency for fashion in Sri Lanka provided the required resources at the workshop held from 8th to 10th March 2021.

Quality fabric choice is the number one pre-requisite of a great looking polished sewn garment and the cloths used for the project were the cloths weaved by Jaffna District Textile Weavers Cooperative Limited in Jaffna. The tailors were given a smart choice of buying the handmade materials from Pandiyankulam, Mulliyawalai or Kondawil. Connecting with these weavers would give the tailors multiple benefits such as obtaining credit facilities, less transport cost as well as easy connectivity from their province itself.

EFECS Project is piloting in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka which has so much of opportunities to be self-sufficient in all aspects. Vibrant network of industries as well as different skilled labour can be recognised as the unique features where most of the external visitors admired in destinations.

Singer Fashion Academy was pre-prepared with the samples as well as the model drawings to ensure the allocated time is effectively utilised. Their pre-preparation as well as the professional delivery of the training was admired by the audience.

Trainers provided a basic knowledge on cutting and project provided sharp good quality scissors to cut the fabric during the training. Since, cutting is one of the main important activities in sewing, blunt useless scissors would not be able to give the expected result.

Using a good quality Sewing Machine is the main requirement in tailoring. Since, Northern Province, Sri Lanka is still under development after the civil war destruction, finding a proper training centre to conduct the programme was a huge challenge. Yet with the assistance of Northern Province Tourism Bureau and Department of Cooperative Development, EFECS Project rented out the District Rural Development Multi-purpose hall in Vavuniya which included 20 sawing machines running under the basic condition. The trainers strongly recommended to service and improve the quality of these machines since it may matter a lot to obtain the quality training outcomes.

At the point of evaluation, Project Staff conducted a research on the use of machines from the tailors and found out that out of 24 tailors responded, 15 does not have sawing machine and they use the vacant machines available in relative or neighbour houses.

Out of the rest only 03 tailors are using the industrial machines which include the finishing facility and the rest of the 06 tailors are using the basic machine which does not have the capacity of delivering a quality product.

Similar to the basic machines, there are line of tools required to deliver a quality tailored product. Proper irons to press the sewing cloths as well as the finished product is a requirement. But still the people use traditional methods of pressing using the basic irons whereas they do not have proper knowledge and the financial capacities to go for such quality tools.

Since the computer knowledge is at a very weak stage among the rural community in North as well as the lesser internet penetration, there is a very less chance for these communities to understand the modern trends and equipment those are available online.

Training provided a basic knowledge on effective use of machines and the required spare parts as well. Singer Fashion Academy provided some basic spare parts free of charge for the machines used at the training centre during their training time in order to conduct the training effectively.

Training was provided by a pool of advanced trainers with a longstanding experience in the field of tailoring attached to Singer Fashion Academy. The pool of trainers used different teaching techniques appropriate to the audience.

Practical Sessions were conducted as teams in order to provide every participant a dedicated attention.

EFECS Project provided all materials required for the programme to get a quality training outcome.

Enthusiastic Women Tailors attending the programme…

Experainced trainers of Singer Fasion Academy provided an extensive during the training.

Ms. K.M.Rose Virigini Wijebandara, Instructor, Singer Fashion Academy assisting a tailor….

Ms. Kanchana Perera, Assistant Manager, Singer Fashion Academy assisting a tailor….

Northern Province Tourism Bureau assigned dedicated officials for the programme assuring a sustainable outcome of the programme with more clarity.

Ms. R.Rakavi, Trainee, Northern Province Tourism Bureau, assisting the tailors

Trainers understood the individual capabilities of the tailors and provided the knowledge according to their individual absorption powers to cater everyone the required capacity development.

Ms. Kanchana Perera, Assistant Manager, Singer Fashion Academy attending for a tailor’s query.

The ultimate outcome of the project is to increase the financial security for entrepreneurs, particularly women. As a sustainable strategy, EFECS developed the linkages between the growth oriented micro entrepreneurs with the Thrift and Credit Cooperative Societies which would have mutual benefits for both parties. In this exercise, project provided the effective mechanism of connecting the clothing manufacturer to the apparel producer and introduce the tailored products into the hoteliers. All three actors are connected to credit society to find the required micro financing while the hoteliers are connected with the appropriate financial institutions. This project may improve the sustainable financial and business management by stakeholders of targeted value chains, particularly women, in northern province.

Cushion Covers required for the hotel beds made by the tailors during the programme using the materials weaved by the Northern Weavers.

Table mat and a handmade bag created by a tailor using the clothes made by northern weavers

Women entrepreneur from Kovilkulam TCCS attending the programme….

This project increased the capacity of MSMEs, especially those led by women, to engage themselves in partnerships that increase value and efficiency of the tourism supply chain.

Ms. Kanchana Perera, Assistant Manager, Singer Fashion Academy training a tailor at the workshop….

Ms. T. Saageny, Women Development Officer, SANASA Uththamavi assisting the women engaged in the workshop