Fund to support emerging fashion designers | Sunday Observer

Fund to support emerging fashion designers

28 March, 2021

Colombo Fashion Week, popularly known as CFW and its Title Partner for the past 14 years, HSBC Sri Lanka recently launched the Next Gen Emerging Designer Fund to support and empower the next generation of Sri Lankan fashion design talent. 

CFW has maintained emphasis on developing the next generation of Sri Lankan fashion designers since its inception. This ensures a steady supply of design talent which further uplifts the fashion industry of Sri Lanka. Over 90 percent of Sri Lankan fashion designers are the product of the CFW design development system. 

HSBC Next Gen Emerging Designer Fund is an evolution of the years of mentoring and grooming provided by CFW. The award will provide five high potential emerging designers with the funds and mentorship required to grow as designers and launch their brands. The fund will be released to the next enrollment of emerging designers. The fund will help manage a system that encourages designers to look at showcasing and retailing as a cycle which will allow them to establish their brand and provides continuity for the fashion design industry.


“The CFW Design Development system has been instrumental in developing emerging designers with a systematic focus on ideation, collection planning and retail. It is the start of fashion design supply chain that feeds the fashion design industry of Sri Lanka. Hence a special emphasis is given to this,” Founder and Managing Director of Colombo Fashion Week Ajai Vir Singh said. 

Applications are encouraged from residents in Sri Lanka between ages of 18-28 and will give special attention to designers who focus on sustainable practices and responsibility in fashion, with a strong aesthetic and unique point of view. A high-profile judging committee will evaluate the applicants and select five young designers for the award.   

“We are here to use our unique expertise, capabilities, breadth and perspective to open up new kinds of opportunity for our customers. We believe that by bringing together people, ideas and capital that nurture progress and growth that we can create a better world. That’s why we are proud to partner with CFW in launching the HSBC Next-Gen Emerging Designer Fund which aims to provide financial support, skills enhancement and mentoring to talented and emerging fashion designers in Sri Lanka. Top five designers will receive a quarter of a million rupees each, followed with an opportunity to showcase their collections at HSBC Colombo Fashion Week 2022,” Country Head of Wealth and Personal Banking, HSBC Nadeesha Senaratne said. 

The application process encourages designers to think about the fund›s core objective of uplifting the Sri Lankan fashion design industry and growing its business opportunities. All shortlisted designers will be enrolled in a thorough mentoring program through CFW, with access to industry knowledge, resources and best practices. Under the guidance of CFW, each young designer will also incorporate CFW’s Responsible Meter, where every garment will be given a score based on how responsible, accountable and transparent it is. 

Honing the skills

Nurturing the next generation of Sri Lankan fashion designers has been the key focus since the inception of HSBC Colombo Fashion Week. The design development system of CFW has been an integral part of the platform and became an important format for CFW with which to mentor, train and groom the next generation of fashion designers. The ‘Emerging Designer Showcase’ focuses on honing the skills of young designers and providing them with a platform to showcase their creative talent. 

This focus has resulted in CFW receiving the highest number of applications this year for its Emerging Designer Program. This is a testimony to the momentum created through the strength of the mentorship and grooming provided by CFW. This year, 11 high potential young designers have been mentored over three months and selected to present their collections at the summer 2021 showcase.

Through the CFW Design Development program, emerging designers who have been selected to showcase have been mentored through the creative process by the CFW mentorship panel to help them refine their skills. Each designer was guided on design thinking, collection planning, fashion marketing, brand presentation and retail feasibility over three months.

Aside from being presented with the opportunity to understand the intricacies of how one of the four main fashion events in Asia function, the designers are enriched with the know-how on fine-tuning their collections to better appeal to the market. Through the showcase, designers are also exposed to a diverse audience which would comprised established designers, editors, buyers and influencers, on and off the runway and particularly in terms of fashion retail.