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South Asian Apparel Leadership Forum todiscuss where Lankan apparel meets design,tech and innovation

Apparel industry’s most inspiring annual gathering to take place Oct 26, 2018: Part of

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week’s fashion intelligence and knowledge-sharing series\

The Fourth Industrial Revolution was heralded in with Klaus Schwab, the World Economic

Forum’s executive chairman, warning that the current breakthroughs disrupting almost every

industry in every country are sweeping across at unprecedented speeds. “And the breadth and

depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management,

and governance...”, he said, pointing out just how important ‘innovation’ has become to the

world economy. And, this is evident in everything that surrounds us today: The vast range of

new technologies fusing the material, digital and biological worlds and blurring the boundaries

between disciplines has had a huge impact on economies and industries worldwide, even

challenging our idea of what it means to be human. For the business of fashion, these tides

have swept in with wearable technologies that bridge our very senses with materials, retail

practices built on ease, consumers calling for brands that centre values like inclusivity,

sustainability and transparency, amongst many more. But, for Lankan apparel, how does this

translate? An industry with both the manufacturing power and the creative capital, at the

crossroads of old and new worlds. Beyond the textbook solutions made for retail sectors, or the

makers’-only sensibilities, Sri Lankan apparel needs a middle-ground, a game-plan of its own.

One that draws from the unlimited potential held by a fluid fashion business model that flows

from manufacturer and stakeholder to retailer. This is where the most inspiring annual gathering

of the apparel industry comes in. This is where the 2018 edition of the South Asian Apparel

Leadership Forum leads the conversation to where Lankan apparel meets design, tech and

innovationThe forum will focus on the unique ways that these transitions in global fashion will affect Sri

Lanka. Ideas like the global trend towards increasingly nimble, innovative and adaptable

industries emulating product-service business models, and their needs for versatile,

technologically-minded professionals with design, innovation and entrepreneurial skills will be


Far futures

The conference will be welcomed by its founder Linda Speldewinde, with opening remarks by

Conference Co-chairs Kurt Cavano—SVP & GM at GT NEXUS and Kumar Mirchandani—MD at

Favourite Group. It’s almost a tradition at South Asian Apparel Leadership Forum to always start

with a supercharged session from the world’s premier economic and fashion business trend

forecasters—The Future Laboratory. Its founders, Chris Sanderson and Martin Raymond will

reveal how our concept of morality is undergoing a paradigm shift, challenged daily by changing

value codes and brand intimacies that are welcome to some but intrusive and threatening to others. These world-renowned foresight specialists will discuss how we define morality in the

age of big data; why branded intimacy is growing and what businesses and corporations need

to do to adapt to a consumer landscape where materialism is no longer the priority.

Chris Sanderson - The Future Laboratory, Founder

Retail’s apocalypse or a new dawn?

Sri Lanka’s apparel industry has adopted narrow and deep strategies developing meaningful

relationships with influential brands from around the world. But, as complete market shifts take

place rendering existing business models of its partner brands obsolete, how does one adapt to

this future? Surveying the retail landscape from the perspective of the Americas Apparel

Producers Network (AAPN), President and AAPN and Chief Sourcing & Merchandising Officer

at Haggar Clothing Co, USA—Anthony Anzovino— shares cutting-edge insights on retail

performance, predicting the winners and the losers in the long-haul.

The Sourcing Landscape: Movers and shakers of the fourth industrial revolution

Bringing in essential insights from those at the forefront of the fashion value chain. the South

Asian Apparel Leadership Forum 2018 will have Rajiv Sharma—group CEO of Coats Thread,

will discuss how the Fourth Industrial Revolution will play out for the fashion business, and who

will draw out the benefits best. From Coats’ vantage that comes from a massive global footprint,

a long history and first-hand experience of transitioning economies, the company has an

unparalleled view of where breathtaking advancements will happen and who is well positioned

to reap the rewards or bear the brunt of its disruptio


OP-ED : Near-shoring | A Threat or Opportunity

Led by David Reay—chairman of Northern Clothing & Textile Network in the UK, this session is

an interesting one where an inspiring story of rebuilding it’s manufacturing on a highly

technological proposition, seeking cross-industry experience from automotive industry will be

shared from a deeply personal place. Reay will discuss how an apparel industry like Sri Lanka’s,

with a like-minded technology mindset, could have the opportunity to partner or collaborate. An

opportunity for not only the island’s large-scale manufacturers but also for small and medium

manufacturers, opening up new avenues.


Eye on China, and lessons from its change

​​​Leaving behind the ‘copycat’ era, China is zooming ahead to become the tech superpower

displacing the US. The Sino business culture today is led by innovation obsessed execs and

their success has generated a virtual cycle of innovation. China has spawned a new generation

of homegrown entrepreneurs who are creating world-class products, developing their own

technologies, and rolling out new business models on a scale and with a speed the global

economy has never seen. Ben Cavender, principal of the China Market Research Group and

Prof. Patrick Gottelier of Studio Gottelier, DeTao Group will dissect China’s macro landscape

fueling these initiatives and firm-level actions specific to design, technology and innovation.

Design - the catalyst for a sustainable transition towards a circular economy.

With the global markets looking for more meaningful purchases, design becomes the bridge

between the brand and the consumer, linking up processes that benefit people, profit and the planet. Designer and serial entrepreneur, plus the winner of H&M Foundation’s Global Change

award in 2016, Tjeerd Veenhoven has made it his business to use design thinking through

innovation, research, design and collaborative process to transition towards a circular economy.

Veenhoven’s session will be complemented by sustainability leaders fresh from the Sustainable

Fashion Symposium which is also held as part of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. This will

include Kate Heiny—head of global sustainability at C&A and the chairperson at SAC, Rogier

Van Mazijk who is the investment manager of ‘Fashion for Good’ and the co-

chair of the Sustainable Fashion Symposium. Representing Lankan apparel industry within this

power-packed panel will be Nikhil Hirdaramani—director of sustainability at the Hirdaramani


Grooming future-fit talent for the industry

What’s the role of education in future-proofing power industries like apparel. Immense, stresses

Jane Rapley OBE, professor emerita at Central Saint Martins UK, who believes that education should inspire and drive business. Academics par excellence, design entrepreneurs and talent scouts share their insights on morphing design careers and grooming talent for future-fit roles in this panel moderated by Rapley and featuring Burak Cakmak—dean of fashion at Parsons School of Design. US, Douglas Maclennan—former design school director or international development at Northumbria University UK and Henrik Vibskov—Fashion designer and entrepreneur.

In its eighth year South Asian Apparel Leadership Forum will bring together some of the

brightest fashion, apparel, tech and value chain business minds to discuss and collaboratively

bring innovative solutions to complex issues. The forum organisers and the partners of

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week hope to have the forum impacting not only commercial success

of fashion and apparel business ventures, but also those impacting lives of people and societies

globally, and building dialogue in the role of design thinking, technology and innovation as

changemakers of industry.

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