In 2014, AOD became the first ever Sri Lankan campus entry to the acclaimed Graduate Fashion Week in the UK. Championing this streak into 2015, the apparel giants Brandix and Orient Design collaborated with AOD design campus’ budding fashion star Ishara Jayathilake to create yet another winning collection. This collection was a show-stopper at the 2014 Sri Lanka Design Festival, and went on to get selected for the Graduate Fashion Week in the UK where only the cream of the crop in graduate fashion talent from across the world, are highlighted. Ishara’s winning collection took to the catwalks in London, as a testament of Sri Lankan apparel industry’s state-of-the-art innovations that complement the capabilities of the emerging fashion talent from the country.
Ishara is a first-class AOD graduate from the award-winning Northumbria University fashion degree. A lover of all things creative from her infant days, Ishara decided to get into fashion, hoping to make a career out of doing what she loves. Today, following her success through her education, Ishara’s own brand has come alive under the name ‘ODD’. “I intended to create conceptual, yet wearable fashion using some unique methods of fabrication, challenging the established notions of beauty. My winning collection ‘Solitude’ takes inspiration from the solitude of soldiers; the intention was to give a new interpretation to the military uniform, combined with civilian clothing. Details are extracted from World War II military uniforms & textile details to symbolize the conflict of the soldier.”
Ishara’s success was not only recognised by AOD – the partner university in the UK, Northumbria, also recognised her remarkable work and Ishara was the recipient of the AOD-Northumbria University Scholarship award for the year 2013/14 and was commended as an excellent ambassador for the programme.
Guided by AOD, Ishara went on to collaborate with some of the biggest fashion manufacturing authorities in the country – Brandix and Orient Design. Following the success of the collection to show in London, Brandix again came forward to support Ishara with AOD, to help her debut on British catwalks. “I’d like to thank Brandix and Mr. Prasanna Wijewardane for their continuing support and offering me the excellent textile treatments and finishes, Mr.Gihan Nanayakkara CEO/Creative Director of Orient Design for giving me an opportunity to use their superior manufacturing techniques and the faculty and staff at AOD for their amazing support. I would also like to thank my parents, my aunt, uncle Oddbjorn Digre, and my friend Pathum for their support and encouragement.”
AOD Principal Karen MacLeod stated that it is a testament of AOD’s education, to have young designers like Ishara recognised at international platforms reserved only for the very best in the world; “We identified Ishara’s talent from the very beginning, and we’re very proud to see it recognised by the world today. This is the second time that AOD has made an entry as a Sri Lankan campus for GFW-UK, and we’re so delighted to have our standards further affirmed by the top fashion authorities in the world. In addition, we’re doubly delighted as this is a triumph for both our education and the Sri Lanka’s apparel industry’s innovative outlook towards fashion manufacturing.”
Brandix’s involvement in the collection’s finishing was instrumental. By combining state-of-the-art finishing technology to treat fabrics and surfaces to create very specific tints and prints, Brandix was able to enhance a precise look required by the design created by Ishara. Linda Speldewinde, the founder of AOD International Design Campus/Sri Lanka Design Festival stated that unique collaborations like the one between Brandix-Orient-AOD is an integral part of AOD’s industry-relevant education model; “AOD hopes to strengthen its already strong links with the apparel industry further and let Design bring visibility to the great technical capabilities of our industry in global platforms.”
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