WH: Sri Lanka’s newest concept store

  • A hub for emerging brands and a unique sense of style

Fashion is one of those commodities that will never go out of style, and Colombo has a new entrant to the fashion circuit, Wear House (WH). The brainchild of two friends turned business partners, Indi Yapa Abeywardena and Limini Weerasighe, WH is a result of their shared love for social services, youth development, and women’s empowerment, along with fashion and a balanced lifestyle.

WH aims to reinvent both physical and digital spaces with the launch of its website and store on 7 August. It also plans to make a social route within the area of their store for tourists and locals, calling it the “Colombo Design District”, where everyone will gather to enjoy shopping, food, art, and culture – a project under development with the help of the Sri Lankan Government. Overall, WH is much more than just a store – it is a place where people from all walks of life can come together to share their art and where it can finally be appreciated.

Brunch reached out to renowned fashion designer and WH Managing Director Indi Yapa Abeywardena to learn more about WH and what they’re going to do.

What is WH and how did it come about?

WH is a concept store that brings together a culture and a place to build a society that evokes a lifestyle. It is a platform to showcase local talent and provide a link for local brands, artisans, and craftsmen to the global market, and elevate them onto the international stage.

WH will showcase emerging and established brands proudly made in Sri Lanka, and will also be approaching village based craftsmen and artisans with a lack of space, to give them a platform and network to showcase and sell their products to the overseas market.

Our physical store at Dharmapala Mawatha will be a creative space for all WH vendors to showcase their products, as well as give our customers the chance to get a look and feel of the products before purchasing.

Through the WH e-commerce site, we are giving anyone and everyone the option to open their own online fashion, beauty, and lifestyle store and reach customers not just within Sri Lanka but also internationally.

WH came about with the passion of two friends to help emerging brands. We are not only about curating the best of the best; we believe in an equal platform for every person’s dream of having their own business. So with that in mind, Lin Asia Holdings, a subsidiary of Lanka Sportreizen (LSR), along with House of Indi, wanted to expand in women empowerment, social services, and youth development in Sri Lanka by providing a place to share and showcase their ideas and products with like minded people.

What can people find at WH?

We love an independent woman with career goals, wearing our brand, and proudly displaying it to the world of social media. WH wants to grab the attention of women who know international fashion trends, are not afraid to try new things, and want to give a chance to local designers. WH have a wide range of vendors that caters for different age groups, spending powers, and occasions – from workwear to a glamourous evening or a red carpet event.

WH will be home to some iconic local brands, with an emphasis on being sustainable, ethical, and fair trade, hosting brands such as Colombo Batik, Seth Ceylon, Niera, Taliya, Karma Collection, Gabriella, Alura, Mahi, Wax by Pooja, and Téarapy Ceylon, to name a few. Indi Today’s future generations are growing up in a digital bubble; they absolutely thrive on physical proximity and digital communities. We have brought together some amazing online vendors from online, ethical and sustainable brands with a lack of physical presence into a creative space in Colombo, where people can also see them in person before purchasing.

WH will also be launching their very own fashion line, which will cater to contemporary women with ready-to-wear clothing. This will consist of the WH-ite Collection, Bo-Ho Collection, and WH Love; with new collections launching every other month. I will also be launching my own ethnic wear brand Indi Bindi at WH soon.

WH is all about supporting the little person. Our business motto is “Small Business, Big Future”. Our store and online platform is a lovely discovery to everyone. Our service will be the traditional Sri Lankan hospitality with a big smile.

What has the biggest challenge been launching a brand like WH in the middle of a pandemic?

There have been endless challenges, from our vendors having a hard time finding materials and people to work for them, to getting their stock out in time to us, and having a hard time finding skilled labourers to work on the store design and interior layout. It has been a tough one to two years of investing capital with no real return, but we are here now and can be super proud of the team behind this launch.

How can brands like WH help retail recover from the pandemic?

WH, along with some other amazing fashion stores in Colombo, can give the Colombo fashion-lovers the latest in designs without having to travel overseas for shopping. In Sri Lanka, we have amazing designers who can match with globally recognised fashion designers. It’s all about the local buyer trusting proud Sri Lankan designers and their concepts to deliver it. From the tourism sector’s point of view, WH will be ready to welcome the arrival of tourists back to Sri Lanka; WH will be ready with products from Sri Lanka for them to take back home, giving a economic boost to Sri Lanka.

How do you see WH expanding in the future?

Right now, it’s all about opening this store and launching our online seller and buyer platform. WH is in no hurry to expand location-wise; we want to establish ourselves as a safe, honest, and reasonable place to sell for Sri Lankan brands, and a place that provides quality products to buyers. However, it would be awesome to have a WH Port City Store one day.