HSBC Colombo Fashion Week returns with a focus on responsibility in fashion

By Bernadine Rodrigo

Photos Eshan Dasanayaka

HSBC Colombo Fashion Week (CFW) has always been exciting for Sri Lanka over the 17 years it has adorned this country, presenting works of designers, both international and local, and showcasing the trends for Sri Lanka that year.

While our island could be considered a contributor to the world’s fashion industry, we can still be considered rather reactionary in terms of our day-to-day fashion sense. For instance, while events such as Paris Fashion Week provide inspiration for celebrities of Hollywood and so on for their outfits, the people of France are fashionable themselves. And on the other hand, the general public of Sri Lanka – a country still developing and with an economy which hasn’t reached its full potential – are not very similar to the romantic folk of France.

The focus of CFW 2020 is to encourage the participating Sri Lankan designers and connected stakeholders to embark on a responsible journey. This focus is primarily to align the Sri Lankan fashion design industry onto a responsible path while celebrating the effort and story of every garment and also profiling the industry and showcasing the intentions of participating designers. Sri Lanka will be the first in the region that will embark on this collaborative programme.

The event, which will be held from 18-21 March at Hilton Colombo, will be taking a completely different but relevant approach to fashion this year. It will be of the theme “Responsibility in Fashion” and will have selected its stakeholders based on the three categories: Garment Enhancement Guarantee, Garment Disposal Plan, Return-After-Use-for-Repurpose.

CFW Founder and Managing Director Ajai Vir Singh spoke very deeply about these three to The Sunday Morning Brunch at a press conference on 3 March at Hilton Colombo.

The “Responsibility in Fashion” programme by HSBC CFW introduces three responsibility and circularity-based initiatives which are actionable impacts and with this, HSBC CFW opens the door for the stakeholders of the Sri Lankan fashion design industry to embrace and start a journey towards circularity.

It also presents a platform where anyone in the region can utilise this programme to further their responsible and sustainable goals. This is the first of its kind in the world with solutions that are relevant, cutting edge, and easy to adopt. This was a result of months of research and behind-the-scenes efforts.

In addition to the above, a first-of-its-kind garment evaluation tool is also being introduced: The Responsible Meter. This tool evaluates every garment presented at this season of CFW and will continue from there. It is based on environmental, societal, and organisational wellbeing.

Basically, after understanding the great, adverse impact the garment and fashion industry in Sri Lanka have on the environment, CFW has decided to go eco-friendly this year. Singh says that he watched other fashion weeks such as in New York, Paris, London, and Milan crash as a result of the grave occurrences in the world presumably caused by climate change and global warming, in which the fashion industry has certainly played a role. It is in fact amongst the top five most polluting industries in the world, Singh mentioned.

This initiative is based on the three-step method which is an idea Singh had back in 2017. However, the qualification criteria for each category still remain a little bit unclear.

The fear about the fate of the world still lingers in the hearts of people, especially as it has become increasingly difficult to take those who claim to be environmentally friendly at face value, due to all the hoaxes mostly by large events and companies.

This edition of HSBC CFW will see nearly 30 designers who are set to showcase their collections over a period of four days. Some of the international designers include Kanika Goyal and Siddartha Tytler while the Sri Lankan designer pool includes Charini Suriyage, Dimuthu Sahabandu, Indeevari Yapa Abeywardena, Sharmila Ruberu, Dinesh Chandrasena, Asanka de Mel, Dinushi Pamunuwa, Fouzul Hameed, Amilani Perera, Aslam Hussein, Kamil Hewavitharana, and Jai by Aashki, amongst others.

For more information on CFW’s Summer 2020 edition, visit the official website Follow CFW on Instagram (@colombofashionweek) and Facebook (@colombofashionweek) for the latest updates, photos, videos, and more.