Fashion is not merely about a garment piece - Amilani Perera | Sunday Observer

Fashion is not merely about a garment piece - Amilani Perera

15 January, 2023

When Covid-19 changed our economy forever, most people thought fashion was an industry most people thought would go extinct. Some of us adapted a little bit better than others.

This week, the Youth Observer reached out to a seasoned designer who has stood the test of time with her brand and used her platform to do social justice - Amilani Perera.

Amilani Perera is the founder of an exotic luxury fashion brand, ‘Amilani Perera’, which is a ready-to-wear brand. According to Perera, the brand is run by a two-pronged motive - providing the wearer with a truly unique garment and giving back to society without sacrificing the essence of her designs and product quality.

The brand is well-known for its inimitable flair in personalized designer wear in Sri Lanka. The Amilani Perera women’s wear designer label has been showcasing at the Colombo Fashion Week consecutively since 2013 when it was launched.

Her brand was the only Sri Lankan brand to be featured at the Asian Designer Week 2016, in New Delhi, India. She also showcased her Spring Summer 17’ Collection at the USA - SRI LANKA fashion week in New York in 2017. Amilani Perera is also the official designer for the Airport and Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka.

In conversation with Amilani Perera, here’s what we found out;

Q: How has 2022 been for you as a designer with the economic downfall?

A: It has been challenging for sure. Especially due to the overwhelming uncertainty. The import bans have directly affected our business, as it prevents us from purchasing our raw materials.

However, we have tried our best to work around the issues and do a good amount of work.

I believe that some benefits have come of it too like our product prices have gone up. Despite the uncertainty, I like to think that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Q: Are you happy about your journey as a designer thus far?

A: I’d say I am very happy. For me, it has always been about evolving with time. At the end of the day, our target audience is a human being. A human being who is conditioned by the environment and changes with time and it is very important that we evolve with it too. So I have always tweaked my designs accordingly, to reflect the changes we go through as a community, to reflect the changes we want to see in our society, and this has worked for us so far and it is my game plan for the coming year as well.

Q: How would you describe yourself as a designer?

A: I consider myself to be someone who wants to portray fashion with depth. It is so much more than a piece of garment. I also want to use my platform for the betterment of humanity.

Q: Tell us the best advice you have received from someone regarding your career?

A: I am inspired by designers such as Stella Mccartney. She is a woman, a mother who is trying to use fashion to empower women and create social awareness about vulnerable persons. Fashion is so much broader than it looks. I try to incorporate this into my work and I try to inspire others and try to help whoever I can with my work.

Q: What are your plans for 2023?

A: This year is a milestone year for our brand, it is our tenth year. We have a couple of plans in the pipeline, which I am very excited about but I’d rather not reveal them as of yet.

Q: What is the best fashion statement according to you?

A: I believe the best fashion statement is not any trend, it is remaining true to yourself. No matter what happens, be you.

Q: Would you like to talk about your work with the UNFPA?

A: In 2020, I entered into a partnership with the UNFPA Sri Lanka to address the issue of violence against women and girls through fashion and the apparel industry. There are two aspects to my projects with the UNFPA, one is social awareness. This is mainly tied up with CFW.

The other aspect to this is helping the empowerment of women who are survivors of violence and supporting their sustenance. I traveled along to Anuradhapura with the UNFPA team and visited a few shelters with women survivors of violence and helped them with entrepreneurial support.

Q: What is your opinion on Colombo Fashion Week (CFW) and how do you feel about your involvement with it?

A: CFW was a stepping stone for my brand. In 2013 I launched my brand through CFW. Thus, I believe myself and my brand has grown with it. CFW has remained resilient to the curve balls we have gone through as a community over the past few years and this has given us as designers the inspiration to do the same. Personally, I am so grateful to be a part of it.

Q: What kind of advice would you give to your fellow designers?

A: One of the main questions I get asked by young interns is, if this is the right time to start their brands or if fashion is right for them. So my advice to young designers would be to address that issue, and it would be to listen to your gut feeling, when it is the right time, you will know it. Always believe in your talent and in yourself. It is simply about how hard you work and how resilient you are.