Dinushi Pamunuwa set out to study fashion just like any young Sri Lankan woman mystified by the exciting fashion industry. However, what she discovered at her alma mater AOD, changed her perspective on the industry, and what a designer like herself could do for Sri Lanka through its modern fashion retail business landscape that is booming across the country. The final outcome of this life-changing exposure that she received during the university years, was Pras and Danties- the newly successful designer fashion brand that explores resortwear through an interesting mix of low and high fashion technologies. Pras and Danties is retailed internationally through overseas online sales and the local travel retail market while it also has a growing following from thecountry's high-end fashion consumer segments. Sharing the story behind this promising brand the young designer behind it- Dinushi Pamunuwa, discussed how the education she received changed her course in life and fashion.
"I have always loved fashion and clothing; it was what inspired me to join AOD, which became the gateway to making my childhood dream a reality. Coming from a government school education background I did not have any exposure to the international fashion arena. During my 3 years I got to work with an international faculty at AOD along with experts in the local industry varying from lecturers who knew the traditional crafts inside out and lecturers who opened our eyes to the international manufacturing techniques that our little island was capable of. At AOD we got to work hand in hand with the artisans which made me appreciate beautiful crafts like Beeralu, Batik and Handloom.”
Studying at AOD, Dinushi got familiar with the working methods and technology of the Lankan apparel industry as well as low-tech hand operations. It is here that she also discovered her own identity as a designer. Through study-work opportunities granted by AOD to get involved in live projects, Dinushi got the initial training and the experience to design for her own brand one day.
"I explored various crafts such as Beeralu when I was at AOD. which was what my final project was based on. We had a project in the final year where I got familiar with fashion construction through intimate apparel manufacturing. When I graduated, I wanted to merge those experiences to create a brand with a truly local touch."
With AOD’s guidance and placements through the campus’ active career centre that maintains a 100% employment rate for its graduates, Dinushi went on to study working in fashionretail within a modern context at established fashion studios. Following this, she was finally ready to live her dream as a designer leading her own brand.
“Pras and Danties was born as a niche product, but I soon realised that its market was not so niche- especially considering the travel retail market here and overseas consumers online who are hungry for something different. It was really wonderful and rewarding to see how the brand was appreciated from buyers in different parts of the world.”
As Dinushi evolved as a designer along with her brand Pras and Danties, she was also selected as a young representative of modern Sri Lankan resortwear. The global fashion platform ‘Mercedes-Benz Fashion Runways’ presented by AOD is one such incredible opportunity that pushed Dinushi and her work in Pras and Danties further. “I can’t thank AOD enough for being part of my growth as a designer and an entrepreneur even years after I graduated. The 2016 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Runways presented by AOD where Pras and Danties was part of the SS17 travel collections launched worldwide was such a huge opportunity for me and it really pushed me forward in terms of professional and personal growth. I’m glad I made the right choice in education because it has certainly come a long way for me.”