East meets West

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Clothes are worn for social needs, comfort, warmth and more importantly, to express one’s identity. Individuals choose clothes and accessories that tell others of who they are. However, one’s ethnicity or nationality can also be made evident by their outfits.

Thus it is surprising that most Sri Lankan grooms wear suits and formal outfits for men have gone from being the national dress of shirt and sarong to trousers, shirts and blazers. However, wedding planner and designer Shanith Fernando plans to change this.

With his collection ‘East meets West,’ Shanith Fernando introduces to Sri Lanka a collection of linen and satin outfits especially for men. ‘A national costume with a modern twist to it,’ is how Shanith described the outfits, adding that they were most suitable for wedding guests or participants.

Shanith has taken into consideration many factors when designing the collection. Linen is comfortable and suitable for the warm climate of Sri Lanka. “It adheres to the weather conditions of Sri Lankan,” Shanith said. Satin gives a free flow to the outfit and is elegant and light.

Adding a modern twist or the Western element of the collection are the bows, ties and the various collars that have been incorporated in to the outfits. The outfits come in lilac, silver and gold and are not overcrowded. Instead they are simple and elegant and the necklines, collars and cut of material are different from other collections and outfits.

Having studied and worked in the West, Shanith has been able to bring the influence the West had on him, while also bringing out the true Sri Lankan he is. Shanith also explained that the other model, Thivanka Ashvin, has received a Sri Lankan education and thus through the models, and not only the outfits, Shanith brings out the merging of the West and East.

It seems like Sri Lankans prefer what is foreign and thus wedding outfits are moving away from the traditional outfits of national dress. “People don’t bother to know the value and comfort of the national costume,” Shanith said, adding that, “We are obsessed with what India has to throw our way.”

He also said that Sri Lankans merely copy fashion and many assume simple outfits cannot be worn to grand events. “An individual’s identity and personality should be the garment he wears,” Shanith said, explaining why fashion should not be copied.

“Simplicity is style,” Shanith said and showed distaste for shimmery or elaborate outfits. “Every garment has a time, a place and a person who should wear it,” he said.

Having studied psychology in Canada, Shanith also did course work in garment making. He said he has an innate talent and eye for fashion and is creative. His first contribution to the fashion industry was at the age of 13, when he designed a wedding sari for a family friend. He hasn’t stopped since then and has designed many outfits. He currently works as a wedding planner and says that it is the responsibility of the designer or stylist to give the client an outfit that suits them and their personality.

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