Painting the World onto Fabric – Tharshana Wijesinghe AOD Graduate and Fashion Designer
‘I’ve always had a passion for art since a very early age. While I loved to draw, I was also fascinated with the idea of “wearable art” and how I could connect design with people. I wanted to see people actually wearing my designs. While I love canvas painting, I didn’t want to limit myself to it, I wanted to see people wearing my design and bringing it to life, giving it motion.’ - Tharshana Wijesinghe
Tharshana Wijesinghe is a name synonymous with intricate hand drawn designs etched on to fabric, paper, and even as body paint. Working as a fashion/textile designer, stylist, and a fashion illustrator, Tharshana specializes in unique print making and handmade fabrics and has launched his very own brand. Initially working in the beauty industry as a body painter and makeup artist, Tharshana showcased his fashion design collection in 2016 at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week after completing his BA (Hons) Degree in Fashion and Textile Design at AOD. Since then, he has combined his passion with hard work, and is a force to be reckoned with in the design industry. His latest collection is available at Urban Island.
The AOD Experience
Tharshana has always wanted to create. With the local school system not being encouraging enough, he looked for a place where he and his creativity could feel like home. Emphasizing on his extremely understanding and supportive parents, they encouraged him to join a design school after his O/L’s. Since then, he looked for a place he could feel like he belongs and found it at AOD. He joined AOD just as he finished A/Ls, and the rest is history.
Reflecting on the many resources, tools, skills, and expertise lecturers accessible at AOD, he stated; ‘My experience at AOD was nothing short of amazing. For the first time I felt like I belonged. The lecturers were very knowledgeable and encouraged us going out of the box and really expressing ourselves to the fullest extent that our creativity allowed us to. We were given the technical knowledge in terms of construction and patternmaking.’
He also commented on the unique knowledge and experience he gained during AOD; ‘Creating a garment wasn’t just about construction it meant connecting emotionally, going out of our way to work with traditional crafts, meeting artisans from out of Colombo. It wasn’t just learning it but also living an experience. We got the opportunity to be part of fashion events and really see how everything came to life on the runway while at the same time learning what it was like behind the stage of a fashion show.’
Life after AOD
After his graduation, keen to get some industry experience, he was offered a job by one of the leading garment companies, Hirdaramani Garments, placed by AOD. He worked with international brands, and got the significant opportunity to brush up his skills and to be exposed to the industry methods.
‘After working at Hirdaramani, I left to start my own brand as I wanted to fulfil my goal of sharing art and to see people wearing what I create. I launched my first RTW collection in December 2018 at Mercedes-Benz fashion week Sri Lanka. It was truly a turning point in my career. The Mercedes platform gave me the exposure and the chance to collaborate with exciting brands. After the show we started retailing our first collection with Urban Island. We are still with Urban Island and the response has been overwhelming.’
Tharshana is currently focused on his brand, TharshanaWijesinghe, while still working on personal projects and collaborations. His ‘Mythical’ collection which was introduced at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week 2018, is currently available at Urban Island, Colombo. For this collection he combined floral patterns inspired by Victorian and Edwardian periods and incorporated mythical motifs from Sri Lankan mural temples.
... and Speaking of the Future.
‘My (Tharshana’s) focus going forward would be setting up a website for the brand, making our garments that much more accessible and possibly delivering to your doorstep, island wide. Really looking forward to taking part in Mercedes-Benz fashion week this year as well.
All that said, I also want to just point out that I will continue to draw inspiration from our beautiful island paradise and do all that I can to bring recognition to our own native culture and traditions. If possible, I’d also like to encourage all designers from Sri Lanka to stay true their roots now more than ever.’