Swim Week Colombo 2018: Meet The Designers

Swim Week Colombo 2018 begins! On the 30th of June and 1st of July, 13 designers will take to the ramp to present their resort, swim and active wear for the season under this year's theme 'Green Conscious and Earth Sensitive'. Partnering  with Swim Week Colombo, we put the spotlight on designer brands, as they give us the inside info on their new collections. 

Rum Punch 

A bold, vibrant and exotic resort wear brand, Rum Punch was launched in 2015 by Rukshika Fernando, a graduate of AOD and Northumbria University. Mixing bold designs and vivacious colours, the swimwear is best defined as contemporary and classically feminine. 

Describe your swimwear collection in three words. 

Summer, fun and festive. 

What were your design references? 

Travel and events like festivals and concerts. 

Were there any elements that you became obsessed with while creating this collection? 

I actually became obsessed with the prints that I created for the new range. 

Where does your love for swimwear come from? 

My love for the ocean. 

What is the first thing you do when designing a collection? 

Find some songs and images that lend some inspiration to the concept or the mood of the range. 

Are there any parts of the world that inspire your collection? 

Like I said, since festivals and concerts played a part in my design I'm influenced by all the festivals from around the world. 

What are your thoughts on sustainability in fashion? 

The fashion industry is the second biggest industry in the world; therefore we as fashion designers have a great responsibility to protect the environment. However it is not easy to do this on our own and I am happy to see that Swim Week Colombo has taken a step in the right direction with their "Green Conscience" initiative. Rum Punch as a brand supports this initiative and we look forward to working with SWC team to understand how we can make a positive contribution. 

What are you most looking forward to at Swim Week Colombo 2018? 

I'm looking forward to showcasing the festival range on the runway. 

How is Rum Punch 'Green Conscious and Earth Sensitive'? 

· Uses fabric packaging bags 
· Packaging materials is made in small local communities contributing to community upliftment 


MAUS 

The label MAUS was created in 2013 by Annika Fernando as a ladieswear brand designed and produced in Sri Lanka. MAUS presents three collections each year, Summer, Monsoon and Fête complementing the tropical lifestyle in Sri Lanka. 

Describe your swimwear collection in three words. 

Simple. Comfortable. Flattering. 

What were your design references? 

The first collection for MAUS Swim was a collection of 6 main classic silhouettes in 4 neutral colours. The new collection is impressing upon the first, with new detail and design interest but not veering from MAUS' brand ethos of being clean, essential and versatile. 

Were there any elements that you became obsessed with while creating this collection? 

Not really. I did however intentionally want to create a little more drama which I think will come through with a punch of colour in the new collection, the limited edition resort wear (created in collaboration with designer, Sonali Dharmawardena), new footwear and accessories. The drama however, is not intended to detract from MAUS' intended core of simplicity. 

Where does your love for swimwear come from? 

From a love of the water; I am a Piscean after all. And also for a love of basics, of which one is swimwear, being that we live on an island. 

What is the first thing you do when designing a collection? 

I remain that I am no fashion designer. I am a fashion entrepreneur and play more with styling. New collections of course, stem from some inspiration, sometimes just instinctive, sometimes more obvious. The details however, are based on customer response to previous collections from my retail experience; what the consumer wants, wishes for and of course, what I personally look for in particular items of clothing and accessories. 

Are there any parts of the world that inspire your collection? 

I would say people are more of an inspiration than places, but of course, Sri Lanka is always the biggest part of the story. 

What are your thoughts on sustainability in fashion? 

It is simply our social responsibility to one another, although it can often just be a marketing gimmick. All MAUS clothing is manufactured in 'Garments Without Guilt' factories like most local labels. It's something 'Made in Sri Lanka' is appreciated for internationally. We also have MAUS Organic which is a range of 100% organic naturally dyed cotton clothing. 

What are you looking forward to most at Swim Week Colombo 2018? 

I'm looking forward to revealing the new collection in an exciting venue for the second edition of Swim Week, which I know will just be an even better show. The experience behind the organizers proves it, so it's just exciting for MAUS to just play a part. Seeing the new direction and emphasis of the event also allows our local brands to be a part of something so much bigger. 

How is MAUS 'Green Conscious and Earth Sensitive'? 

· Uses 100% organic cotton and natural dyes throughout the overall MAUS brand 
· Using biodegradable packaging for the new collection 


KOCA 

Celebrating the woman who stands out in a crowd, KOCA is a label for those on the lookout for effortless style and elegance.  Under the title 'KOCABRYN' designer duo sisters Najila and Rusila have extended their repertoire to include swimwear under their label KOCA. 

Describe your swimwear collection in three words. 

Funky, current, cool. 

What were your design references? 

Design inspirations were referred from the Kingdom of Joseon. The Joseon dynasty era that lasted for approximately 5 generations from the 1300 - 1800, was full of art, culture and beautiful inspirations. 

Were there any elements that you became obsessed with while creating this collection? 

We became obsessed with certain art pieces that are translated to our designs. 

Where does your love for swimwear come from? 

Living in a tropical country full of amazing Sri Lankan beaches, creating tropical clothing is a natural for us. 

What is the first thing you do when designing a collection? 

Always start with inspiration. 

Are there any parts of the world that inspire your collection? 

Yes, for this collection it's all about culture in East Asia / Korea. 

What are your thoughts on sustainability in fashion? 

Sustainability in fashion has been something we have been more consciously aware of in the recent years. We are now more conscious of our processes such as recycle / up-cycle / non-toxic dying methods / women empowerment / uplifting small businesses etc and making an active effort towards sustainable fashion. 

What are you looking forward to most at Swim Week Colombo 2018? 

Watching our creativity walk the runway. Never fails to excite! 

How is KOCA 'Green Conscious and Earth Sensitive'? 

· Uses fabrics purchased from local shops and upcycles luxury sarees and shawls for use in the production of the collection 

· Uses organic certified printing methods 

· Community upliftment by undertaking production by local small-scale garment factories 
· Recycled materials are used in all packaging thereby avoiding the use of plastic/polythene 


Buddhi Batiks 

Versatile batik designer Darshi Keerthisena is responsible for creating a renaissance in batik especially amongst the younger generations. Her creations are hip, on point and totally wearable. We await her swim collection with bated breath! 

Describe your swimwear collection in three words. 

Fun. Flirty. Fresh. 

What were your design references? 

Tropics, tropical fauna and flora. Beach, sea, sand. 

Were there any elements that you became obsessed with while creating this collection? 

Catchy phrases and tropical fauna. 

Where does your love for swimwear come from? 

I live on an island. Do we need any other inspiration? 

What is the first thing you do when designing a collection? 

Look at travel blogs relating to the theme, places, for research on the subject I'm interested in. 

Are there any parts of the world that inspire your collection? 

Beaches in Sri Lanka and around the world. 

What are your thoughts on sustainability in fashion? 

Sustainability in fashion should be something that goes without saying. It should be the way that all fashion is created. Heading the design team at MAS Linea Aqua has taught me a lot regarding sustainability and I'm proud to be a part of such an organisation. At Buddhi Batiks, we have started the journey towards it too. 

What are you most looking forward to at Swim Week Colombo 2018? 

Obviously I'm looking forwards to seeing our new swimwear collection on the catwalk, apart from that it's exciting to see Ajai, Fazeena and the CFW team are working tirelessly to create more awareness about green fashion, Designers working towards it, while making the consumer aware of it so they could demand for "Greener Fashion". 


Hot-As-Hell 

Los Angeles based Hot-As-Hell is headed by designer Sharleen Ernster. The brand is committed to minimizing waste through smarter use of resources and raw materials. They are conscious of the environment and make products which are eco friendly designs. Hot-As-Hell is simplifying sexy for its customers and the earth one design at a time. 

Describe your swimwear collection in 3 words. 

Real. Sexy. You. 

What were your design references? 

The collection was based on the roots of Hot-As-Hell. 

Were there any elements that you became obsessed with while creating this collection? 

Roots, trees, almost all shades of the colour green, and as always a sense of Mother Earth. 

Where does your love for swimwear come from? 

From the happiest memories of my childhood... being on a beach in South Texas, the freedom of the summertime, the beach and the expression of swimwear. Wramth and swimming always takes me to a happy place. 

What is the first thing you do when designing a collection? 

Reflect on the purpose of the brand and the story we want to tell this year - the message we want to remember our work around for years to come. 


Spa Ceylon 

Presenting their collection at Swim Week Colombo 2018, Spa Ceylon has been inspired by the traditional palace art from the grand palaces of Ceylon. Shalin and Shiwantha, the brains behind the brand Spa Ceylon are innovative at the best of times and we expect to see a collection that says wow! 

Describe your swimwear collection in three words. 

Vibrant, motifs and free-flowing. 

What were your design references? 

The traditional palace art from the grand palaces of Ceylon and the vibrant tropical hues from the fruits and flowers native to the island. 

Were there any elements that you became obsessed with? 

Using natural fabrics and the traditional art batik, incorporating the home grown skills of Asian artisans passed down through generations. 

Where does your love for swimwear come from? 

It comes from the love of our paradise isle and tropical living. 

What is the first thing you do when designing a collection? 

Look to nature for inspiration and the lifestyle of our clientele. 

Are there any parts of the world that inspire your collection? 

Our collection is inspired by old Ceylon. 

What are your thoughts on sustainability in fashion? 

Sustainability should be at the core of any industry. People and nature are our biggest inspirations in fashion. In this respect fashion should give back to the environment as much as it takes and more. 

What are you looking forward to most at Swim Week Colombo 2018? 

We look forward to showcasing the Tropical by Spa Ceylon collection to an international audience, and showcasing the beauty and vibrancy of Ceylonese art. 


La Pard 

Dinushi Pamunuwa is the designer behind the brand La Pard. Starting off her career designing batik underwear which was so chic that customers began using it as swimwear, Dinushi has now launched her own line of swimwear under the La Pard brand. Youthful styles is what we are expecting from her at Swim Week Colombo 2018. 

Describe your swimwear collection in three words. 

Classy, Feminine, Sensitive. 

What were your design references? 

My main surface inspiration was stars. The batik patterns derived from looking at different constellations and stars in general. 

Were there any elements that you became obsessed with while creating this collection? 

Colours. I have three accent colours and I did some developments in order to achieve those colours the way I want as it can be rather unpredictable with batik and the current weather. 

Synthetic material. I have minimised the use of synthetic material through fabric and accessories. 

Where does your love for swimwear come from? 

We are a beautiful island surrounded by the ocean. The beach brings a sense of relaxation for me. Growing up, swimwear was always the printed synthetic material that you come across everywhere, but to be able to change that to a more breathable and natural fabric coupled with our traditional batik is where the swimwear collections get me excited every single time. I am always excited to be able to infuse my favourite craft into swimwear to create something unique and not adhere to fast fashion. 

What is the first thing you do when designing a collection? 

I generally don't have a phase where I sit and design for a particular collection. Once a collection I am working on has moved onto production my mind is constantly open to different ideas and new inspiration and design. There are several different elements I will be pondering on during this time. When I am to design and come up with a collection I will pick my favourite that I feel the strongest and continue on that path. 

Are there any parts of the world that inspire your collection? 

Asian women. We are not as outspoken and confident of our bodies as the Western women are. I want to be able to create swimwear that bridges the gap from practical to flattering. The collection creates a variation for not only the petite woman with the curvy figure but also for the plus size woman to be able to appreciate her body and swimwear. 

What are your thoughts on sustainability in fashion? 

It is vital that we think sustainable in the slightest way possible. Even the smallest act if we start practising it that will have a positive impact in the long run. As a brand I try my best to stay away 


Stefel 

Living in the hills of Kandy, designer Peronie Stefel has her new swim collection carefully under wraps! This designer is noted for her use of batik coupled with simple silhouettes. This is her maiden swim collection which has been inspired by intricate mandalas. Peronie is a talented designer having won the Colombo Fashion Week Bright Sparks award a few years ago and we can't wait for her to reveal her maiden swimwear collection. 

Describe your swimwear collection in three words. 

Vivid, Neoteric, Bohemian. 

What were your design references? 

I started working on this collection at a time where I was discovering my centre. I always drew intricate mandalas as a form of meditation that's where I felt the urge to use the circular shape as the foundation of my collection to portray the notion of infinity, reoccurrence, and repetition. 

Mandalas - which represent the cycle of life and the universe is a key reference. 

Motifs of Kandyan Buddhist art - the lotus flower, embekke wood carvings, Dalada Maligawa 

Were there any elements that you became obsessed with while creating this collection? 

The colour combination of teal, mint green, turquoise and ochre. 

What is the first thing you do when designing a collection? 

For me, it's important to be fully immersed in my key inspiration. I start with a mood board and colour story and straight into my print designs. 

Are there any parts of the world that inspire your collection? 

Travel inspires all my collection unconsciously always. This time though I have been inspired by my hometown Kandy more than ever. Lot of inspiration has been drawn by the rich art history to the quiet stillness my town offers where life slows down in pace. 

What are your thoughts on sustainability in fashion? 

Unfortunately, the fashion industry I too am a part of is one of the most polluting industries in the world. A major contributor to global warming which is real, happening right now and hard to ignore. 

As a designer and consumer it's a responsibility to be aware of ways to improve and reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible. A good start I believe is by making simple decisions. Like buying local products, better quality fewer items and shifting away from disposable fashion. 

What are you most looking forward to at Swim Week Colombo 2018? 

This project has been a very special experience for me. Honouring the local craft batik I embrace as a designer, this project allowed me to approach my aesthetic through digital printing and high tech manufacturing. The process has been successful in terms of eliminating wastage of water involved in batik craft, durability of the product but also in line with the craft and identity of my brand. So most I would say is to witness my debut swimwear collection on ramp also excited to see the collections of all the other very talent local designers and of course the set up of the venue this season. 


Meraki 

Sharmila Ruberu the designer behind the label Meraki is a versatile designer than can create evening wear and swimwear with equal aplomb. Never one to shy away from being bold, her designs are daring but sophisticated. Sharmilla is a perfectionist and puts a lot of thought into her designs which is evident in her creations. 

Describe your swimwear collection in three words. 

Intense confidence feminised. 

What were your design references? 

Strength of the woman of today. 

Were there any elements that you became obsessed with while creating this collection? 

Nature and environment hence a colour palette in coordination with it. 

Where does your love for swimwear come from? 

To be honest from a place where I never knew it existed to begin with, until I was thrown in to the deep end. 

What is the first thing you do when designing a collection? 

Once a seed of an idea gets in I just immerse myself in it and let it flow. 

Are there any parts of the world that inspire your collection? 

It's not just one part but a global thing. 

What are your thoughts on sustainability in fashion? 

It is the need of the hour and we all need to stand as one to make the difference. 

What are you looking forward to most at Swim Week Colombo 2018? 

The adrenaline rush and mostly being able to be a part of the awe-inspiring theme beginning this season 'Green Conscious Earth Sensitive'. 


  

A brand offering cool and contemporary swimwear designs, Conscience will present its maiden swim collection at Swim Week Colombo 2018. 

Describe your swimwear collection in three words. 

Pushing simplicity further. 

What were your design references? 

I introduced the shapes of some English alphabets to the deisgn philosophy of Conscience while creating this collection. It was the first swimwear collection by Conscience. We had to have some fun! 

Were there any elements that you became obsessed with while creating this collection? 

Conscience is a part of the evolving project called Making of a Perfect Green Bikini. This was interesting as we were thinking of what can be done so that evert aspect of the process is impacted. 

Where does your love for swimwear come from? 

From water, and then nature. There is amazing connection there. 

What is the first thing you do when designing a collection? 

Look for an idea hook. It's the magic ones that come, and everything just falls in place. 

Are there any parts of the world that inspire your collection? 

Being the first Conscience collection, I wanted to push the envelope by using shapes of some alphabets and experiment with the silhouettes using the said shapes. 

What are your thoughts on sustainability in fashion? 

Conscience as a brand stands on 'Good Fashion' philosophy. It is a must. It should be a normal way opertaing. 

What are you most looking forward to at Swim Week Colombo 2018? 

The new positioning that every participating designer will have a green impact story is exciting. As it is like stepping into a new new which is good and meets our thinking. 


One of Sri Lanka's original homegrown swim and beach wear brands, Arugam Bay is full of life and vitality. Colours and prints are set to dominate this eagerly awaited collection. 

Describe your swimwear collection in three words. 

Chaos. 

What were your design references? 

We had fun using an Aztec print made out of small flipflops, using the colour chaos of Arugam Bay. The classic silhouettes were used with bold prints representing Arugam Bay's take on nature. 

Were there any elements that you became obsessed with while creating this collection? 

Humour and environment were the elements we worked on actively introducing to the design DNA, and this was kept within the marine colour story. 

Where does your love for swimwear come from? 

The brand is inherently immersed in surf and beach culture. The little town of Arugam Bay has provided the inspiration which we have mystically expanded further. 

What is the first thing you do when designing a collection? 

Look for a deeper meaning of a colour that has caught my eye, and start weaving an idea story from there. As colour is such an important part of Arugam Bay, it remains intrinsic to it. 

Are there any parts of the world that inspire your collection? 

More than any part of the world, a combination of surf + beach + island becomes the inspiration for any collections. We also visit the mystical story of Arugam Bay which is weaved in the brand DNA for inspiration. 

What are your thoughts on sustainability in fashion? 

Arugam Bay is actively involved in a quantifiable PET bottle recycle project. Each pair of Arugam Bay shorts are made from 7 PET bottles. To me, that is so important. We are pushing it beyond shorts to our other products. 

What are you most looking forward to at Swim Week Colombo 2018? 

Every fashion week raises the bar of fashion quotient, deisgn, show production, and overall fashion environment, within that it is exciting for Arugam Bay to push the boundary as well. It's a good fraternity feeling. 


Ajay Kumar 

Flamboyant, bold and eclectic are the key words behind Ajay Kumar's collection. Taking part in his first international fashion show here in Sri Lanka, Ajay Kumar is eagerly awaiting to unveil his new collections which promises to be awe-inspiring. 

Describe your swimwear collection in 3 words. 

We are presenting our resort line. Three words that would describe our collection - bold, flamboyant and eclectic. 

What were your design references? 

All our designs are influenced from Indian heritage, art, architecture, landscape and motifs yet very contemporary in outlook. Each piece is iconic and has a story to tell. The resort line also has elements from our inspiration but handcrafted to look very stylish and resortish. 

Were there any elements that you became obsessed with while creating this collection? 

Yes, we became obsessed with the lotus. It is omnipresent across all our products and throws light on this existing symbolism of 'The Lotus Flower' in context to the duality of human nature. The lotus has been visualised in floral and geometric forms - or as we call florogeometric patterns to render a nouveau touch. 

Where does your love for swimwear come from? 

We have designed a resort line and we feel it is a stylish extension of our existing line. 

What is the first thing you do when designing a collection? 

First thing that comes to mind while designing a collection is 'The Emotional Connect'. What am I trying to do here and why? What can I connect the inspirations and trends to - the threads of consciousness that connects everything together. 

Are there any parts of the world that inspire your collection? 

India. We are an Indian brand and we have vast resources of textile heritage and culture to be inspired from. Other than India, Florence and London are two places that inspire me the most. 

What are your thoughts on sustainability in fashion? 

Sustainability is present in every aspect of our business of fashion. On the consumer's side, reducing impulse buying and investing in good quality pieces is a step towards sustainability. This would slow down consumption and reduce the impact on the environment. Save your dad's vintage jacket and reuse them or wearing family heirlooms creates sustainable fashion. As a brand, we make engineered prints and make bespoke garments, thus, reducing fabric consumption.We are taking slow and steady steps to empower every individual and community working with us and creating value in the chain. The journey has just begun towards becoming a sustainable and conscious luxury brand with a brand ethos that works towards being responsible, transparent, modern, fair and environmentally conscious in many ways. We are not perfect and we may never be but we are trying and in many ways contributing back to the society. 

What are you most looking forward to at Swim Week Colombo 2018? 

Well, Sri Lanka and India are similar in many ways, we share the same cultural threads, food habits and it doesn't feel that you are going to showcase in a new country. You feel at home. I am extremely excited as this is my first international show in Colombo. 


Aqua Island 

Another home grown Sri Lankan swim wear design brand Aqua Island's collection is best described as athleisure at best. 

Describe your swimwear collection in three words. 

Tropical, Sustainable, Athleisure. 

What were your design references? 

Active swim range - tropical motifs, summer vibes and silhouettes inspired by athleisure wear 

Eco range - sustainability (recycled fabrics), feminine effects and unconventional silhouettes 

Fashion range - Renaissance period 

Were there any elements that you became obsessed with while creating this collection? 

Trying to achieve the right combination of athletics and leisure into swimwear. 

Sourcing for recycled raw material to facilitate the process of manufacturing and taking every effort to make it feasible. 

Use of various types of embellishments to enhance the collection. 

What is the first thing you do when designing a collection? 

We start with market research and reviewing current trends. Secondly we come up with a concept for colors, silhouettes and prints that goes parallel with our research. And beginning the process of refining and revising the collections to match our target audience. 

Are there any parts of the world that inspire your collection? 

Amalgamation of Sri Lanka and a few islands across the world. 

What are your thoughts on sustainability in fashion? 

The knowledge and act of sustainability lies within us; it is not something that you can force to stabilize. It is a creativity of your own, a stand, a principle that you take with an admiration and passion to sustain the earth for the benefit of the people, economy and most importantly the environment. We as a brand identify very much with the growing philosophy of green fashion. Our dedicated eco ranges are our commitment to the journey of sustainable fashion. And is only the beginning. Sustainability is one of the pillars the brand is being built on and we will be working towards achieving the highest potential of going green in every aspect of our supply chain. We want to give all the swim lovers something fashionable first which will draw them to consume ethical swimwear. And to maintain interaction with them creating a sustainably aware customer portfolio. Rather than just retailing products. We want them to join us in this journey. It's very important as a nation to understand why this is needed and what we can do to change the norms. 

What are you most looking forward to at Swim Week Colombo 2018? 

We are excited to witness the new trends that the swim week will showcase and where each trend is inspired from. 


TEXT by Panchali Illankoon and Tina Edward Gunawardhana

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