Colombo Fashion Week 2019 – the wait is almost over

By Dimithri Wijesinghe

Last Wednesday Hilton Colombo hosted a press event announcing what’s in store for the 16th edition of Colombo Fashion Week (CFW), Colombo’s premiere fashion event and the hottest ticket in town from 27 Feb to 2 March.

It’s all business as usual for CFW 2019, except this year the event brings in three key hotels to host the shows – Galle Face Hotel on 28 February, Shangri-La Colombo on 1 March, and Hilton Colombo on 2 March.

About the bringing in of two new hotels, CFW Founder and Managing Director Ajai Vir Singh said: “CFW is expanding its focus; it is like shifting gears to increase momentum. It is a development project and we are focusing on the fashion industry and also the city of Colombo to be associated with fashion.”
Hilton Colombo General Manager Manesh Fernando also pointed out that, this was a key move the event made, in order to showcase the city of Colombo to be seen as the vibrant city that is, to be viewed from a destination perspective.

Fernando said: “Instead of selfishly keeping it within our hotel, we’ve chosen to work on promoting the destination, because sometimes we become too involved and passionate about ourselves, we tend to lose sight of the big picture. It is our hope that in the future we make CFW more Sri Lanka and Colombo specific.”

HSBC CEO Sri Lanka and Maldives Mark Prothero added that HSBC is proud to be associated with CFW once again, providing that: “The event has moved from strength to strength since its inception, and we are excited for the new changes Ajai and the team has planned.”

Winding up the press event the floor was opened for questions and a concern was raised with regards to the adaptability of runway fashion to the everyday woman, particularly for those above the age of 40, to which Ajai responded: “CFW has always made an effort to be inclusive of age, and designers, over the years we had to change their complexion in order to be more inclusive. The truth of the matter is people over 40 are fitter and more fashion conscious now, I mean look at this head table, we are all beyond this age and all smart looking wouldn’t you say.”

Another interesting question was raised with regard to the true impact fashion and CFW hopes to have on Sri Lanka and the international market, particularly in the few years that are to come, to which Ajai responded that, the “statement” may not be explicit, but if you look at it, Sri Lankan fashion has been defined by the existence of CFW. Nearly 90% of Lankan designers have showed at the event at one point or the other. Adding that, Sri Lanka has an advantage in this definition as countries like Bangladesh or Pakistan whose fashion is ethnic; whereas Sri Lanka has struck a lovely balance between contemporary creative and traditional.

Ajai said: “If our identity is getting stronger in this part of the world then it won’t be long before we make an impact beyond that.”