#3 LINDA SPELDEWINDE
FOUNDER, Academy of Design & Sri Lanka Design Festival
Cotscompany.com, launching in December 2014, is a venture Linda Speldewinde hopes to use to connect Sri Lankan fashion brands directly with consumers.
Despite being a major supplier of ready-made clothes to the international market Sri Lanka has few
fashion brands of its own. Building a high street brand can be daunting even for accomplished manufacturers of ready-made clothes because of the cost involved and the management bandwidth such an undertaking will require.
By establishing a fashion ecommerce platform for brands from Sri Lanka, Linda Speldewinde hopes to eliminate layers of costs and other entry barriers for brands. Cotscompany. com will retail online, a range of Sri Lankan brands including, Aqua Island, Avirate and Red Cacoonbuilding – a portfolio on a theme of travel, escapism and holiday. The online store will launch in the UK first and may later include offline retail outlets at airports.
Speldewinde says the global industry expects 20 international brands to emerge from Asia and she thinks that Sri Lanka should take a shot at creating five of those.
The merchandise will be all Sri Lankan with brands from here, artisan fabrics, manufactured here based on local designs. “We have to come up with an emotional proposition she says,” and believes that a Sri Lankan theme of escapism will have global appeal. The apparel industry is used to B2B deal making and business to consumer is challenging in different ways she points out. “We have to go high value and go direct to the consumer,” she says.
She is also founder of the AOD design campus and the Sri Lanka Design Festival, an event that connects designers with industry, offering them an opportunity to showcase to a global audience. She is also founder of the Design for Sustainable Development Foundation helping cottage industries with design inputs and access to markets.