A successful design career in the apparel business

Tuesday, 30 September 2014 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Interview with Tarja de Silva, fashion designer contributing to the apparel sector Tarja de Silva has always wanted to excel in the world of fashion. Encouraged by her forward-thinking parents to pursue her interest in fashion and textile design for higher studies, Tarja started her design education at AOD International Design Campus in Colombo and went on to pursue a post-graduate Masters’ in fashion in the UK. During this time, she even became part of the team behind the Sri Lankan delegation for London Fashion Week IFS 2012. Today she has a successful career at one of Sri Lanka’s largest fashion manufacturers where her education and skillset are valued greatly as the apparel industry grows to compete within the international marketplace. Tarja’s success stands as an example for what qualified, young designers can achieve today with the correct support from parents and their educators. Tarja started her fashion education in Sri Lanka at AOD International Design Campus. With a globally accepted curriculum, AOD provided Tarja’s first stepping stone into the fashion world. After travelling to the world design capital UK for further studies in fashion, Tarja completed her Masters’ postgraduate in fashion studies. As a passionate young Sri Lankan, Tarja celebrated her design heritage in the work she did in the UK too and found her inspiration in local dance, costume, motifs and pictures from old Ceylon. She translated this inspiration into unique prints and patterns for fashion and her work was well received by the fashion academics and audiences in London. Tarja was also part of the working team that represented Sri Lanka for London Fashion Week IFS 2012 led by AOD; “My graduate collection where I took inspiration from the fire devil dancer and formed a batik textile range is still one of my favourite works. While I was in the UK, having the opportunity to get involved with London Fashion Week 2012 with AOD was an experience of a lifetime! Having lived in England for three years it was apparent to me how ‘fashionable’ the British are. London Fashion Week is without a doubt one of the most anticipated events in London and to be a part of it was thrilling. I was both privileged and proud to work with AOD and present the beautiful design heritage and fashionfrom Sri Lanka to Londoners. Moving on from the UK after my degree and masters’ I wanted to work for either a well-established fashion brand or gain experience with the apparel industry in Sri Lanka as they’re among the best in the world.” Ethical and sustainable fashion Back in Sri Lanka, Tarja identifies several strengths that Sri Lanka has to grow as a country with a strong fashion sector; one such strength that she is personally passionate and excited about is ethical and sustainable fashion. “Through my education at AOD and in the UK as well as the experiences that I have had, I strongly believe that you are what you wear! So, I can’t stress enough how much I appreciate the young Sri Lankan designers who have taken ethical fashion and sustainability on board – it is the future of fashion. I believe that there is immense potential for Sri Lankan fashion/textile designers both at home and internationally.” Tarja is now employed as a fashion designer for a prestigious Sri Lankan apparel manufacturer working with world renowned fashion brands. Here, Tarja now fully comprehends the benefits of her choice of education and career; “My initial thoughts were that designers did not get much preference in the larger apparel manufacturing companies in Sri Lanka, however having being placed in one such company, I can really see that the role of a designer is now changing and their creative and technical input has become extremely valuable for the industry. It’s a career I enjoy greatly and the ability to keep moving higher in what I do gives me greater chances for improvement and growth. Right now, I hope to give my all to my current career and take the opportunities it presents to travel and expand my knowledge in fashion.” Remembering the beginning of this journey towards success, Tarja recalls the support she received from her parents, from the very early age; “Having noticed my love and talent for creativity, design and fashion at a very young age, it was actually my mom that suggested I choose fashion as a career pathway. My father too, being a professional with international interactions himself, understood the potential of fashion to lead to a stable and rewarding career. I have to say I’m very lucky to have got such great support from both my parents.” Today, Tarja’s parents are extremely proud of their daughter’s achievements. Her father Chandana de Silva, who is the Country Manager for Sri Lanka and Maldives at Emirates Airlines, said that having been around the world, he has seen the massive potential that design has to form powerful careers: “So, I was pleasantly surprised when my daughter first wanted to follow a career in design. Having only graduated a few years ago, she has already forged her own path in the field, happily settled at one of Sri Lanka’s leading apparel brands. As the years go on, I am sure that she will only continue to flourish in her field and I could not be happier.” For more information, call AOD on 077 5980141/0115867772, visit 29, Lauries Road Colombo 4 or log on to www.aod.lk or www.facebook.com/aodsrilanka.