Colombo, Sri Lanka- On Friday, November 18, the Sri Lanka Design Festival hosted the South Asian Leadership Forum at the Mount Lavinia Hotel in Colombo. The forum, which culled together local and international leaders in the garment industry to discuss Sri Lanka’s place in the global marketplace was one of the key events of the Sri Lanka Design Festival, a showcase for the Sri Lankan fashion industry.
The South Asian Leadership forum, which featured four sessions and a number of guest speakers, focused on Sri Lanka’s evolving garment industry and its place in the global marketplace. Each session was hosted by a different moderator, and the panelists fielded questions from an audience composed of the garment industry’s leading thinkers. The forum was hosted by Mike Todaro, Managing Director of the American Apparel Producers Network, who frequently offered his insight into the discussions. Panelists included local business leaders and international guests from India, the UK, France, Germany, Brazil, the United States and many more countries .
“It is small groups like these that truly affect change on a grand scale,” said Todaro in his opening remarks to the hundreds of delegates and industry leaders attending the event.
The four sessions covered such diverse topics as the shifting global apparel market and economy, strategies for continuing and growing Sri Lanka’s strong garment production, new design and manufacturing technology, and the country’s leadership in sustainable production. Each session featured unique moderators and panels, including manufacturers, retailers, designers and educators.
One of the key topics discussed at the forum was Sri Lanka’s growth in the worldwide apparel market, and what path the nation’s manufacturers would choose to take. Many at the forum were wary of offering inexpensive services while they could as so many other countries have done, and instead opting to provide high quality work using sustainable and ethical business practices.
Though only the fourth session was initially focused on sustainable and “green” manufacturing in Sri Lanka, the eco-friendly business practices of the Sri Lankan garment industry was a theme that ran through the entire day’s discussions. Panelists and audience members agreed that Sri Lanka was setting a global example for sustainable garment manufacturing, but more needed to be done throughout the fashion industry on every level.
The marketing of Sri Lankan garments was another large topic of discussion. In addition to spreading the word about high-quality, low-environmental impact garments produced in the nation, many panel members and attendees thought that a marketing or advertising campaign directed at both the industry and customers in overall could be of tremendous benefit to Sri Lanka’s industries.
Ram Sareen, Founder and Head Coach of Tukatech, described Sri Lanka as the best kept secret in the garment industry, and several other panelists considered ways to raise the country’s profile on a global scale. Both Ram Sareen and Mike Todaro cited the example of Columbia’s Juan Valdez icon as an example of what can be accomplished with the right marketing campaign.
As part of the focus on excellence rather than affordability, one of the panels spotlighted the role of new technology in both the current marketplace and the creation of new ones. Several new technologies for design and production have drastically altered the garment production landscape in the last few decades, and Sri Lankan companies have been among the quickest to adopt, adapt and innovate.
Arshad Sattar, Managing Director for the Timex Group of Companies spoke at length about his experience using Tukatech’s TUKA3D and e-Fit Simulator while developing products to meet his customer’s time and quality expectations. He also discussed using Tukatech’s 3D technology, via Styku’s online fitting room and low-footprint in-store body scanners as one of the key elements in the success of his company’s expansion into retailing and the creation of their own brand.
Sattar also revealed how Timex has been producing over 1 Million dresses with average of 800 new styles per month, “It is a continuous season for design rather than 4 or 6 or even 12 seasons per year, an order for 2,500 garments in one style is considered to be a BIG ORDER for us now. We are doing orders as small as 65 to 240 units and that has made us a preferred supplier to major brands in fashion market”
“Our brand, Avirate, could not have happened without Tukatech and Styku,” said Sattar. “Their technology allowed us to develop our line, establish an e-commerce site, and show our styles virtually before we move into production. Tukatech allows us to be agile and quick in our development, with very little risk. We have no warehousing cost, no mark down, and none of the financial overhead or investment traditionally associated with starting a new brand. “
Sattar also announced that Avirate’s five retail outlets would be utilizing Styku’s body scanning system to help them understand their customers shapes and measurements that will allow them to make better fitting garments for every consumer regardless of their size. Avirate’s customers will be able to shop virtually and try-on clothing in their home or mobile devices through Styku’s patents pending Virtual Fitting Room technology.
Many of these manufacturers who have expanded into their own brands had the opportunity to show off their new collections at the Sri Lanka Design Festival’s fashion shows. Companies like Timex, Hirdaramani, Star Garments, Brandix and more debuted evening wear, lingerie and children’s collections to a large gathering of international fashion industry leaders.
For more information about the Sri Lanka Design Festival, visit
Tukatech is a Los Angeles-based company that provides pattern making, grading and marker making software, 3D apparel prototyping systems and manufacturing equipment. It also provides web-based product development services and PDM/PLM systems, supported by brick and mortar centers strategically located in garment hubs worldwide. With over 9,000 systems installed, and thousands of competitive systems replaced, Tukatech is the fastest growing garment CAD/CAM company in the world. Tukatech has been ranked by Apparel Magazine as the #1 Apparel software company in the world.