From Manchester to Sri Lanka: A Designer's Development Trip
Manchester to Sri Lanka (and back in 6 days!)
Arriving into Bandaranaike airport, Colombo, Sri Lanka, I’m feeling exhausted from my 2 flights and a 3 hour wait at Abu Dhabi. I collect my case and make my way to the exit to find my driver holding a card with my name, this being my fifth trip out to Sri Lanka, I’m getting into a nice routine.
The heat hits me when we leave the airport building and walk through the gardens towards the car.
We drive through such greenery, beautiful big palm trees and an open road……. until we meet the traffic! Almost every type of vehicle, trying to squeeze through any and every gap, accompanied by a constant melody of horn blowing! Looking out of my window I see guys sat in the back of pick up trucks (it’s the most normal mode of transport) and tuk tuks everywhere!
Safely at the hotel I pass out for a few hours. I will discover this to be a mistake, as from then on I wake every night at midnight for a good 3 hours, hello jet lag!
Monday morning and I’m in the office with my colleagues, meeting some new people in the flesh that I’ve only seen over Skype before now. The buyer and his merchandiser arrive from one of the UK’s biggest high street retailers and we begin work.
At this stage we need to review each style before production. We need to confirm that the team over in Sri Lanka have interpreted the designs correctly. To ensure the buyer can place the order, the price is negotiated, this sometimes means I’m asked to re-work the design while trying not to jeopardise the overall look.
We check the colour references, the print scales, the fabrics, and all the little details ensuring the garment is perfect for the consumer.
Lunch?.... Curries… and salad too, I have an onion allergy, which is difficult in Sri Lanka!
This afternoon, on our itinerary we are off to one of my favourite fabric mill. Just an hour’s drive away, we are taken into the showroom and offered very sweet tea. It’s monsoon season in Sri Lanka at the moment and the sky is looking very grey as we are taken from the showroom to a tour of the factory. This factory makes 250 million metres of fabric a month, so you can imagine the size of it! The tour starts at the machines that knit the fabrics, there are so many machines and it is very noisy, knitting up grey marl jersey fabrics, simple white and navy stripe and black jersey with shiny multi coloured lurex, I just love to watch these machines go!
From here we are taken in to see the dye machines, really so much bigger than you would imagine! Next stop the rotary printers, with a major sports brand, two-colour print currently going through! Then passing through to be dried and folded into the biggest bucket you have ever seen! We head back to the showroom for more tea and sandwiches and we look through all the latest hangers on show and select which ones to take back to the office.
Its now about 5pm so we are taken straight to Paradise Road, with the traffic it’s 6.45pm by the time we get here and the shop shuts at 7pm. Every person who visits Sri Lanka is taken to this incredible shop! So many beautiful things crammed into every inch of space!
Dinner isn’t far away at The Gallery Café and cocktail time while we talk shop. Our table is ready shortly and it has to be fish while in Sri Lanka!
Day 2, I’m back at the office for a garment review before the buyer flies home tonight. It’s a hard day and the jet lag has really begun to take its toll along with the marathon day yesterday.
We manage to finish reviewing the range just before 6pm, the buyer is driven off to the airport and I’m taken back to my hotel to order room service and for a well-deserved rest.
Day 3, I’m picked up a little earlier and arrive at the office for 8.30am. Today we have go through the range again and update the tracker, I need to update the tech packs as we go with all the new amends we made with the buyer. We must ensure all the information is correct, as this is the final stage. It’s another long day, but very productive and I’m feeling satisfied with my contribution to the range and excited to see the garments.
I’m driven back to my hotel at 6.30pm. My flight is at 4am and I’m not being picked up until midnight so I decide there’s no point sleeping. I head to the roof top pool for a late swim, it’s just starting to get dark but still lovely and warm, the exhaustion has well and truly kicked in but I relax as much as I can and prepare myself for my journey home.
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About Our Author: Amy Poole Design are a Suffolk based design agency, specialising in multi product garment and graphic design including trend forecasting and analysis. Amy has over 10 years experience of working with high street retailers, brands and suppliers specialising in ladies, men’s and childrenswear with a sound understanding of market dynamics and consumer wants, meaning her designs meet the needs and aspirations of her clients’ target markets. You can find out more by visiting Amy's website HERE