Steel Blue carves a new niche cut in fashion clothing

Wednesday, 20 April 2011 00:05 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Cheranka Mendis

The new kid on the block Steel Blue is all geared to revolutionize the clothing industry with new cuts and designs. With his inborn instincts in the world of fashion Executive Director of Steel Blue Jeeshan Mirza with his wife and business partner Sabina Mahuroof is braced to take on the fashion to a whole new level through innovation, quality and attention to detail.

With a flagship store down R.A. De Mel Mawatha, Steel Blue is here to develop a truly Sri Lankan brand with all designs, ideas and manufacturing being stemmed from the island itself. The BOI approved project funded by Canadian investors with its state of the art apparel manufacturing plant in Mirihana, Steel Blue features men and womenwear clothing.

Mirza with his instincts on fashion being horned since his younger days as a family member of Bangladesh’s leading fashion chain ‘Cats Eye’ stated that the objective behind setting up Steel Blue was to tap into the high market of apparel by utilizing Sri Lanka’s skilled production force. Married to Lankan born Sabina the idea of setting up shop in Sri Lanka appealed the couple as they identified the country as a fashion loving island with more scope for expansion on the industry.

Specializing in bold, contemporary and trendy clothing for both men and women collections at Steel Blue are unique in design. Branding themselves as a quality shirt manufacturer above all else, shirts for men come in a variety of colours with varying designs and little value additions which presents a  final product like no other. This, Mirza said shows in “bold colours, contrast fabric, tight fit and elaborate designs which are ever present in our garments.” The company produces dress shirts, casual shirts, dress pants, casual pants, jeans and t-shirts for men and tops, shirts, t-shirts, trousers and jeans for women. “We also give attention to detail. It’s a tedious process and one that many do not like to follow. Even in a shirt we make sure that all lines are aligned right. Even a little mistake is good enough for us to reject a shirt,” Mirza said. “We also won’t repeat any of our designs. If a collection does not sell in six months we will replace them with backup stock and not bring the old ones out.” The products are also said to be high durable products.

As an example for their innovative skills, Mirza points out their new category of shirts called ‘Design Shirts’ (not designer shirts, rather casual shirt with design). “Design shirts are casual shirts with highly elaborate work-use of contrast fabric, zippers, and embroidery¸ buttons and so on.”

With an eye out for “all those are who are looking for something different and of high quality and anyone who is young at heart” as they identify their target market, Steel Blue clothing is manufactured from exclusively selected fabric from Thailand and China. Mirza claims that the fabric is prewashed to minimize shrinkage and to ensure it doesn’t lose colour or quality.

With their own fashion research team who draws inspiration by following the European trends as seen on magazines, movies and other social media among varying methods keep the company up to date with new ideas and fashion innovations. Having their own manufacturing plant helps Mirza and his team put on shelf the latest designs they pick from trends abroad faster than other companies which import such clothing items. He claims that at Steel Blue everyone is a designer from the sales girl to the cashier. “We value their input. They often have ideas that could help us better ourselves in the future. He also added that the company carries out extensive research of the latest trends in fashion “whether it is from ramps of Paris and Milan or fashion magazines or the latest Hollywood movie.”

Aspiring to become Sri Lanka’s best and most admired high end fashion brand, Steel Blue has plans in place to open more stores in prominent locations in Colombo starting with Mount Lavinia.

When asked why Sri Lanka and why right now, Mirza stated that Sri Lankan clothing market is about to take a turn for the better with fashion and clothing becoming more of a lifestyle product than a necessity. Customers are becoming more sophisticated with men entering the fashion world as well. “People are now willing to spend more for quality clothing.”

“Sri Lanka has been a target market for big companies who do their production process here. As such how come there are no specialized clothing brands here,” he questioned. “Here we are, making all that is of high quality. Sri Lankan workers are very talented and are good with their hands. We must make use of this for our advantage.” With the local economy poised for growth the industry is only going to expand, Mirza claimed. “It is now time for Sri Lankans to demand something totally Sri Lankan.”

When asked about competition, Mirza said, “Steel Blue doesn’t compete with the traditional mainstream players. Rather its goal is to create a new market space or a blue ocean. With the use of style, innovation, quality and variety, Steel Blue offers a totally new value proposition for customers.”