By Nethmi Jayatilleke
How can batik look modern? Leave that to Kanchana Fernando who is the proud designer of LICC batik by Kanchana.
Kanchana’s collection features traditional wax-dye techniques and diverse cuts which radiates the dynamic Sri Lankan culture.She is also concerned with innovation and often utilizes unusual materials in her pieces. Her new batik collection was recently showcased at the LICC “Jeneration 2018” Fashion show.
Read on to find out the potential of this traditional textile, Kanchana’s journey and what it’s like to start out in the fashion industry.
Hi Kanchana, when did you know you wanted to be a fashion designer?
I believe true design doesn’t just happen and that it’s in your blood, so I would say I’ve been a designer since my childhood. My inspiration came from my mother, who owns Sanathana Batik Gallery. Being around a design oriented family inspired me to become an independent designer myself. Back then I just wanted to be fashionable and unique in the way I dress, [I’m a huge believer in the saying “You are what you wear”] which made me design my own clothes. Every compliment I received on the way I dress inspired and motivated to do more and later expanded to designing for others as well. Since then with God’s grace, there had been no stopping me. Even the learnings I’ve had in my career as a merchandising manager, helped me in creating what is now my very own successful fashion brand.
If you love what you do nothing can stop you, I firmly believe in that and I’d say designing is my passion rather than a career.
What was the biggest inspiration behind your latest collection?
I draw inspiration from diverse concepts. My latest collection was based on Flower power and 70’s silhouettes.
How has your brand evolved and how would you describe it?
My parents stated this business as more of a hobby and a lifestyle, back in 1985. It’s in a way their fourth child. Following my continuous involvement in the workshop since I was a little girl, batik designing became my first love. The product portfolio of Sanathana at that time was limited to wall hangings & Sarees. Then I introduced Batik slippers and Accessories. The biggest breakthrough came to the “Sanathana” brand when I started up cycled denim wear. This move has been the best and one I’m very proud of. It is humbling to be referred to as one of the catalyst in the sustainable fashion industry and I am motivated to do more and more to make sustainable fashion a lasting trend. Therefore, I believe my brand stands for beauty through sustainability.
What kind of feedback did you get on the collection?
To be honest, I was overwhelmed by the comments received for the new collection. I didn’t expect my dreamy ideas would be appreciated at such a platform, and at such a level. Everyone was very accepting of the new color combination and the flowers in the collection. I feel blessed.I am really grateful for the immense opportunity given by LICC in launching LICC Batik by Kanchana.
What’s it like being in the industry?
There are so many upcoming fashion designers in Sri lanka with their very own label, but the challenge is in adapting a proper marketing strategy. A given marketing strategy can make or break a business. Therefore, I have learnt that it is importance to market the product well, whilst focusing on the creativity of the product. So I feel it my partnership with LICC [which is the best local denim brand in Sri Lanka ], will help me on both fronts, one in adding value to the product and two, its marketing.
There are so many upcoming fashion designers in Sri lanka with their very own label, but the challenge is in adapting a proper marketing strategy. A given marketing strategy can make or break a business. Therefore, I have learnt that it is importance to market the product well, whilst focusing on the creativity of the product. So I feel it my partnership with LICC [which is the best local denim brand in Sri Lanka ], will help me on both fronts, one in adding value to the product and two, its marketing. Any advice for teens who are just starting out as young designers?
One thing I truly believe in is that “clothes speak your personality”, that first impressions always count and that you need not tell everyone you’re a designer but your outfit should do it for you. So if you are a designer let it reflect in the way you carry yourself so you will be the brand ambassador for your products.
Do not just go with the trend because there are several successful designers out there. Just find your identity and uniqueness. So would identify you with your design.
Also nothing is easy at the on set, so try harder when and if you fail and never give up on your dreams. Always remember completing the race is easier once your half way through, than starting over again. Keep dreaming. Keep designing.