It is amazing how you meet with talent. Today I have Kanchana who did not learn the ABC of fashion but who's passion took her here, and she seems to be loving it.
Recently I was her showstopper for a fashion show and saw her work for the 1st time when she showcased with LICC and loved her work. I wanted to come to know a little bit more, so here is her story
Full Name – Mututantreege Kanchana Niwanthi Fernando
Birthday - 18/02/1985
Passions - Fashion
Favourite Colors – Black & White
What made you take up fashion?
In a way, I would say I’ve been a designer since my childhood. My greatest fashion inspiration is my mother, who started the Sanathana Batik Gallery. Being around her and designs my entire childhood, 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 me to do more and later expanded to designing for others as well. Since then with God’s grace, there has 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 fashion brand. If you love what you do nothing can stop you, I firmly believe in that and I’d say designing/fashion is my passion rather than a career.
You have been working with Batik for some time now, how has it been?
My parents stated the batik business as more of a hobby and a lifestyle, back in 1985. It’s in a way their fourth child. I spent most of my time in our workshop since I was a little girl, and batik designing became my first love. Our product range was limited to wall hangings & Sarees. Then, I introduced Batik slippers and Accessories. The biggest breakthrough came to our brand “Sanathana” brand when I started upcycled denim wear. This journey has been the best and one I’m very proud of. It was humbling to be referred to as one of the catalyst in the sustainable fashion industry in one of the recent articles and I am motivated to do more and more to make sustainable fashion a lasting trend.
Don’t you conceder the Batik market very competitive?
Yes, it is very competitive. There are so many established & upcoming batik designers in Sri Lanka with their very own label. But I feel I have created my own niche market with the upcycling element. Also, in my opinion, there are two main challenges. One is giving something new to the society & the other one is in adopting a proper marketing strategy. A given marketing strategy can make or break a business. Therefore, I have learned that it is important to market the product well, whilst focusing on the creativity of the product. So I feel 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.
Who has been the biggest support in your life?
My family without a doubt.
Tell me your style of work?
I am not a follower of fashion trends. Fashion, I believe, is a part of my personality. Therefore, I live it day in and day out. Anything I see or hear which I feel is something attractive, I incorporate into my designs. It can be something as simple as a hibiscus flower to something as glamorous as the formation of the Duchess’s tiara. So quite frankly, my style of work changes in the spring of the moment.
What are some of your most defining moments in life?
- The moment I saw happy tears in my parents' eyes when I got selected to the university. It changed the course of my life.
- My stint in Pakistan which added extremely value to my designing career.
- The day I met the love of my life, my husband, Hashan
- When I secured my job at MAS.
- Becoming the 1st runners-up from Mercedes Benz sustainable fashion awards, which truly opened so many new opportunities for me.
- The moment I was announced the winner of the Venturer award of MAS Holdings, which is awarded to women with entrepreneurial spirit. It was really a boost to my confidence.
Tell me about your design label?
Its Kanch by Sanathana which is our household brand. I also collaborate with LICC for LICC Batik by Kanch. Both are unique in their own way although the same concept is used.
What has been your favorite travel destination and why?
Paris. Paris. Paris. I still haven’t been there, but it is on my bucket list. It was a childhood fantasy since it is supposed to be the fashion capital of the world.
When you work on a design, what do you look for?
My designs are more in the moment, where, I look at the person /purpose and my mood, then I let my mind run with it. I believe that’s what’s unique about my designs, that it caters to the need of a person or a purpose and not what the mass market expects out of designers.
I do look at innovative constructions and method of application that I can use in my collection but I don’t let current trends draw boundaries on my design direction. One thing I do believe is that sustainability plays a huge role too in my designs.
If you could have been told one thing that you weren't told when you were a teenager, what would you like to have heard?
That I’m not the shortest one in the world :D
If not design, what would have you chosen as your career?
Design is not my career. It’s my life’s passion. As a career, I am extremely happy with my choice to be an account manager at MAS Kreeda.
In the Spot!
What are your thoughts on what the country’s situation is like?
The situation is not getting any better for all the industries.
What do you say is the biggest issue that the youth faces today in Sri Lanka?
The millennials now unconsciously restrict them to trends, in fashion, and in life. In some cases they lack the urge and the rebelliousness to think out of the box, of course, this doesn’t apply to all.
What would you say is missing in the fashion industry?
The focus on sustainability.
Your thoughts on CFW?
It gives an opportunity to showcase talent while having the most fun.
Who was your favorite teacher and why?
My parents. I am who I am because of them.
What makes you feel the most secure?
Having a supportive family.
Who do you admire the most?
Anyone that loves what they do.
Who was your hero when you were a child, and what did you do to be like them?
To me, my mother is synonymous with inspiration. She is and has been a superwoman of sorts. So, it’s always been and will be always my mother. I have always admired her creativity, ability to face challenges & her determination since I was a little girl and I still do. I started learning from her since then and I still have more to learn from her. So I’m following her footsteps, but going on my own journey as a fashion designer.