News ≫ Meet Amesh Wijesekera, the Designer Taking Sri Lanka, Berlin, and Now the World by Storm

Meet Amesh Wijesekera, the Designer Taking Sri Lanka, Berlin, and Now the World by Storm

Oct 11, 2021
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In the flurry of IRL and URL events, shows, and appointments, one can easily gloss over diamonds in the rough. But even in a chaotic phygital fashion month, Amish Wijesekera’s work stands out. The Sri Lankan designer is the first winner of Reference Studios’s Reference Incubator prize and presented his work at the phygital Reference Festival in Berlin earlier this autumn alongside 032c, Ottolinger, Juliana Huxtable, and more renown artists, musicians, and designers.

“He’s the first winner and he is also exactly what we have been looking for; he represents every single aspect of the program when we first set together with Hans Ulrich Obrist three years ago,” said Reference Studios founder Mumi Haiati. “What we had in mind was to really support and enable underrepresented talent from around the world with a sustainable approach as a foundation. I think he represents just that.”

Because of the pandemic, many of Sri Lanka’s artisans and factories were also suffering. Wijesekera notes that the country, a massive manufacturing hub for fashion, has also become a repository for its waste, with companies sending tons of textile waste to the island. His solution was to work with artisans on creating one-of-a-kind knits. “Sometimes I feel like the artisans are treated like machines,” he says. “They have years and years of knowledge, craftsmanship, and skill, and they never get to show their creativity or skill. I would give them a rough idea, but I said there is no right or wrong way to make it.” The collection was then modeled by local Sri Lankans who Wijesekera scouted on Instagram.

Steff Yotka
Thu, October 7, 2021, 10:00 PM

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