Designer 1-2-1: Akhila Liyanage

Oct 20 2020. views 273

Torn between a career in engineering and fashion design, enterprising Akhila managed to complete degrees in both. Hailing from a family where producing garments was their bread and butter it was a no brainer that Akila would follow her father’s footsteps and venture forth into the fashion industry. A past student of AOD, Akhila worked as a designer for while working on creating her own eponymous label.

What sparked your interest in fashion design?
Ever since I remember I was always hanging around my mother even when she was dressing up. That inspired me to imitate how she styled her outfits and matched the accessories and put them together. My mom’s wardrobe inspired me to design new outfits for my Barbie dolls when I was a kid. I always wanted my Barbies to look more stylish and never let them wear the outfits which were given to them. I also used to see my father measuring and designing various types of garments. With time I realized, fashion designing has been something that’s been running in my blood.

How has your work evolved since you began your own label?
I used to design my own outfits whenever I went to a special occasion and the majority of colleagues started asking where I bought them. Having known I was the designer of my own outfits my friends wanted me to design their outfits as well. Then I realized that there were customers who were willing to buy the products I designed as well. This was the very first step which led me to start my own brand. Also, while I was working at, I had enough freedom to come up with my own concepts and see them evolve into products. 

Are there any types of clothing that you avoid designing?
Not at all. Whatever the material or the clothing type maybe through my experience and the knowledge I can simply design and approach because I love to experiment with new things and don’t want to specifically avoid designing any type of clothing.

Where do you look for creative inspiration?
No need to go further, walk into the street or to the garden or whatever the place where you live. You may find countless amounts of creative inspirations which may inspire you to come up with fresh concepts. I simply look for circumstances in progress where new trends and design opportunities are being created. 

Describe your latest collection?
My latest tropical fruit inspired collection named “Holiday Escape” includes sunny tropical dresses, t-shirts, and tops full of unique and on-trend pieces mixed with Sri Lankan typography elements and Pop Art inspired fruit prints that you’ll want to wear right through next year. It has played around with styles in lengths, fruity prints, batik streaks and out of the box styling with basic and statement pieces combined.

What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work?
In Sri Lankan society there is a huge gap in local-oriented fashion design. In order to fill the gap, I usually love to design things that are inspired by Sri Lankan culture and mixed them together with international inspirations.

What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your company?
You really need to build up new connections with and support from industry professionals in order to establish your name in the field. You should always try to expand the connections in the field no matter whatever the level they are because the experience they have gained in the industry is the most important thing that you can learn from someone.

What role do you think social media plays in fashion today?
The contribution of media is poor but occasionally media promotes some programmes based on this subject but that’s not adequate enough from my point of view when compared to other countries. Our media plays a very limited role.

How do you want women to feel when wearing your clothes?
I want them to feel confident when they wear my clothes because every single piece of my collection is special because I am aware of the struggle I went through to come up with the final product. So, every woman who wears my clothes should feel how special and unique they are.



Tina Edward Gunawardhana

Tina Edward Gunawardhana is a journalist specialising in travel, fashion, lifestyle, cuisine and personalities. She is also the Features Editor for Hi!! Magazine. An intrepid traveller, she likes to show readers the world through her eyes and experiences. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - tinajourno


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