FOCUS ON: GESSICA COLLECTIVE, A CHAT WITH SHENALI GUNARATNE

Gessica Collective is led by fashion designer Shenali Gunaratne, a recent Bachelor of Design graduate from Whitehouse Institute of Design Australia. During her studies, she’s been working on perfecting her fashion label. Since then, the label perfectly blends streetwear with social movements that matter.

For her latest collection, “The Art of War”, as well showcased during Paris Fashion Week, the main source of inspiration was the Paris terror attacks in 2015 and the tragedies in the world around us. Something that stood out during the entire horrific event, was the mass of ordinary people who stood up and did extraordinary things, in the light of a serious tragedy.

Gunaratne says: “Although the days of conscription are dead and gone, just being alive in this time, you need to be prepared for a war everyday. My menswear collection propels the idea of the Everyday Soldier, with the use of military inspired details and the implementation of them through modern streetwear. Throughout the collection I have used fabrics that you would find in uniforms, ranging from wool to cotton drill and tonal colors for each body.

While this sounds quite heavy, the underlying message is about hope. “The message I would like my collection to spread would be that, as people go on with their lives, through all the struggles that they face, there is hope. We may be ordinary people but we can achieve the extraordinary.

 

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A CHAT WITH SHENALI GUNARATNE ABOUT GESSICA COLLECTIVE

 

KREEP.: How did your passion for design start and how your creative process work?

I started illustrating when I was really young, I was really interested in the details of clothes and it lead to a love of designing. My grandmother and mother did a lot of sewing when I was growing up, it really encouraged my interests.

KREEP.: How fashion nowadays helps and motivate you to become a fashion designer?

Nowadays in fashion you often find loop holes and niche markets that need to be filled, I always strive to be aware of fashion trends and news to be aware of these loop holes so I can approach them appropriately and better myself as an aware designer.

 

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KREEP.: Can you tell us a little bit about your references for the last collection?

In my last collection I referenced a lot of French, English and American Military. My inspiration was based on the Paris terror attacks, it was based on “The Everyday Soldier”. I referenced military pocket details and closures, I looked at utility designs and added a Gessica Collective twist on them.

 

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KREEP.: Are you sick of people talking about millennials? Do you see yourself as a designer for young people, a new generation?

I think millennials are so important to fashion, now more than ever. Young people set trends and are always looking for “the new thing” they are a huge market and I think all designers should aim to please them. I definitely see myself as a designer for young people, the new generation is exactly what the fashion industry needs.

KREEP.: How fashion competitions can change the business industry? Will you apply at some in the future?

Fashion competitions are a great way to get your foot in the door as emerging designers in the industry. I plan to apply for a few competitions but it’s important to do your research, opportunities are always out there but you’ve just got to find the right ones.

KREEP: How do you want people to feel when they wear your clothes?

Empowered. My designs are heavily based around strength and that is what I want every person wearing them to feel.

 

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KREEP.: What do you think about the opportunity of selling your products on online platforms, you think it might be a good showcase for your work and your future?

I think having an online presence is extremely important in this day and age, although I do think it is still important for people to feel the fabrics, see how the pieces sit and to try clothes on. You definitely have a different shopping experience when you shop online and when you shop in store. I would prefer to have both avenues.

KREEP.: What young designers need right now from fashion industry to grow up?

The industry is very harsh and it’s a very dog eat dog world, young designers can often get lost without support. Young designers need avenues readily available where they can gain more knowledge and experience, experience is so important in this industry but  so hard to gain access to.

 

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