As CFW approaches 20 years of developing and showcasing Sri Lankan fashion, another progressive step has been taken, in spite of the present challenges, towards providing resources to high potential emerging designers to support their entrepreneurial design journeys through CFW Accelerate. Launched at HSBC Colombo Fashion Week 2022, CFW Accelerate is a programme that builds on many of CFWs other initiatives that help to create new pathways to success for promising young designers who aim to keep sustainability at the core of their designs.
At Colombo fashion week 2022 , CFW Accelerate identified the best five high-potential emerging designers and these individuals were provided with funding to pursue their passion for fashion on the 19th of August 2022, at HSBC’s Head Office in Fort. The candidates, including Ayesh Wickramarathne, Divya Jayawickrama, Harinda Gunawardena,Nilusha Maddumage, Navindri Ranatunga, are now supported by the HSBC Fashion Fund and CFW, both financially and in terms of mentorship to support business development, fulfilling the promise of CFW Accelerate.
Since inception, design development has remained at the core of CFW, a developmental organization, and over the years Colombo Fashion Week has created various mentorship programs to enhance designer’s skill sets. Since 2012 CFW started including strategic steps that would form the cornerstone of building an eco-system for the fashion industry in Sri Lanka. The first such programme was called Bright Spark, which was followed by Next-Gen, which in turn was later expanded into Project 7. The key premise of these initiatives was to look at every aspect that would enhance a designer’s skill set and make them competitive and compatible in a nascent market like Sri Lanka. CFW Accelerate is a natural progression of these initiatives.
Expressing a commitment to innovation, creativity and design, Mark Surgenor – CEO HSBC Sri Lanka and Maldives said, “Through our support of CFW, HSBC seeks to not only support emerging talent, but to also contribute to the fast-developing fashion landscape of Sri Lanka. As the leading international bank in our 130th year in Sri Lanka, we have been supporting CFW for over 15 years now. With this new initiative, we aim to fuel its expansion further and open a world of opportunity to these talented next-gen designers”
The designers were chosen with the hopes of rejuvenating and spurring on creativity and innovation, while promoting idea refinement within Sri Lanka’s fashion and design industry, which has faced severe challenges since 2020, with established players struggling and newcomers facing business closures and other hardships. With design development remaining a core value of CFW since its inception in 2003, various mentorship programmes to support business development, such as the HSBC Fashion Fund have been initiated to provide scholarships, retail backing and a bank of fashion industry expertise to enhance designers’ skillsets and make them competitive in an emerging market like Sri Lanka.
CFW Founder and Managing Director Ajai Vir Singh, commenting at the occasion, extended his gratitude to HSBC for their support in this collaboration saying, “HSBC has been a partner with us for 15 years and has fully comprehended our goals. This, therefore, has allowed us to establish this fund to assist younger designers,” As CFW progresses, Ajai Vir Singh noted, the fund will be expanded on the basis of their observations and suggestions, “The establishment of the HSBC Fashion Fund for New Designers is a significant achievement for the fashion sector in Sri Lanka, in terms of creating a favourable environment for nurturing new and upcoming talent, and we look forward to scaling up and funding our top emerging designers with their support in the future.”
CFW’s Emerging Designer programme has been an integral part of Colombo Fashion Week since its inception, having paved the way for many well-known names in the industry today. Today, nearly 80% of Sri Lankan designers are products of the CFW design development system, which has been developing and enhancing the fashion ecosystem in the country for almost two decades. Vir Singh added that CFW hopes to keep evolving it to stay relevant and effective, helping to create a new generation of successful designers from Sri Lanka.