AOD graduate Natharlea Yahampath celebrates international debut at Cracow Fashion Week

Adding to the many accomplishments of the Academy of Design’s growing portfolio of successful alumni, earlier this month BA (Hons) Fashion & Textile Design graduate Natharlea Yahampath celebrated her debut international showcase at the Cracow Fashion Week in Poland. Owing to the powerful collaboration between the Design University and Poland- backed by support from the Polish Embassy, Natharlea was given the unique opportunity to not just exhibit her collection at a prestigious fashion showcase, but also to bolster Sri Lanka’s fashion and apparel export industry as one of the best in the world.

Using only discarded yarns and leather in the production of her luxury collection ‘Poison’, Natharlea opened the international catwalk to discussion on the relationship between sustainability and the global fashion industry; conversations on consumption that are the need of the hour in the midst of what is predicted to be a crippling environmental crisis. Inspired by the depletion of natural beauty and resources from the Amazon rainforest, ‘Poison’ featured muted tones for each organic piece, incorporating knit crochet – in collaboration with local brand Kalaro, and leather created through traditional Sri Lanka garment production techniques; a fusion of designs from her final project collection at AOD’s annual graduate design showcase, REVEAL, as well as her eponymous brand Natharlea.


In securing powerful international partnerships, as with its relationship with the Polish Embassy, AOD provides highly coveted opportunities to propel its graduates onto the global stage, but with the long term goal of playing a key role in supporting the exposure, development, and expansion of Sri Lanka’s manufacturing industry to fuel its own export economy.

Sri Lanka’s Ambassador Dhammika Kumari Semasinghe, commented on the fruitful relationship with AOD, “The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Warsaw recognises the vast export potential for Sri Lanka’s beautifully crafted sustainable contemporary designer wear in countries such as Poland. It is extremely gratifying to note that our efforts to promote Sri Lanka’s creative economy in Poland, resulted in establishing a partnership between the Academy of Design of Sri Lanka (AOD) and Poland’s Krakow School of Art and Fashion Design (SAPU) last year.  This partnership provided the opportunity for exceptionally talented designers such as, AOD’s Natharlea Yahampath, to be invited to present her ecologically themed and up-styling fashion repertoire at the prestigious March Cracow Fashion Week 2022 (CFW). Natharlea’s collection had resonance among the fashion audience at the CFW 2022, with potential export offers." 

The apparel industry makes up approximately 40% of the country’s exports, with Sri Lanka being the second largest trading partner and main exporter to the EU. With the launch of its ‘Design for Exports’ initiative, AOD has created a unique ecosystem through which to fulfil its goal of leveraging local design talent and manufacturing processes as means to increase exports and grow the country’s economy. Additionally, through various long-term industry collaborations working hand-in-hand with the country’s most influential apparel titans, and strong ties to national authorities such as the Export Development Board (EDB) of Sri Lanka, the pioneering design university is taking leadership in highlighting the entire spectrum of Sri Lanka’s industry strengths and its capacity to innovate and produce high quality clothing fit for international trade, and in turn, global consumption.

As testament also to its commitment towards promoting Sri Lanka’s home-grown capabilities and offerings, AOD’s movement initiated this year has been aptly themed ‘We the new local’; building on the narrative that the country’s rich heritage can (and should) proudly be harnessed to fuel the new global movement of contemporary and sustainable design, across all design disciples.

Having earned for itself a reputation as the country’s most influential force in design innovation, AOD’s fashion department in itself offers two compelling undergrad programmes; and as with all of the university’s full-time BA degrees, both, the BA (Hons) Fashion & Textile Design programme as well as its BA (Hons) Fashion Design & Marketing programme, are affiliated with the prestigious Northumbria University UK. The former is one of the university’s most popular programmes, where student are given the chance to investigate and experiment with a diverse range of fashion disciplines, in tune with the changing tides of the industry. At the close of their study, these aspiring fashion designers will be asked to create, develop, and produce their own individual collection for a graduate fashion show. The BA(Hons) Fashion Design & Marketing programme is aimed at future fashion marketeers; where students engage in all aspects of fashion studies, from research into fashion markets and their customers, fashion forecasting, fashion graphics, illustration, photographic styling, and promotional techniques, capping the course with design realization projects through pattern creation and garment construction. Even more enticingly, students get to reap the many benefits of AOD’s strong industry collaborations and strategic international partnerships; be it through access to industry specialists, work placements, international study trips, or opportunities to showcase on global platforms.

AOD invites all A/L graduates looking to leave a mark in the extremely exciting global fashion industry, to enrol for the March 2022 intake of the BA (Hons) Fashion & Textile Design and BA (Hons) Fashion Design & Marketing  programmes For more information reach AOD Colombo on 0775727772, email or walk in between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday – Colombo Innovation Tower, No 477, R A De Mel mawatha, Colombo 4