27 March 2022: The London College of Fashion (LCF), University of the Arts London (UAL) students recently presented their groundbreaking use of blockchain technology in a handloom craft showcase in collaboration with Selyn, Sri Lanka’s pioneer in fair trade handloom manufacture. The launch event, held at the exclusive SOOK 42 South Molton Street in London, aimed to celebrate the immense potential of global crafts and the innovative role of future creatives.
The showcase featured a modern and stylish bag designed in a collaborative project between London College of Fashion and Selyn called the “Sandra” Clapping Bag. Over 25 LCF students were tasked with redefining the use and potential of handloom textiles to create a product that appeals to a global consumer with blockchain technology. The students were successful in creating a fully transparent and sustainable accessory, showcasing the future of ethical and sustainable fashion.
Dr Emmanuel Sirimal Silva, Interim Director Fashion Business Research at London College of Fashion, UAL, stated, “Such unique and collaborative experiences are core to the development of our students; it allows them to challenge the industry and prove that better ways to create and manufacture are possible.”
The partnership between UAL, Selyn, and PaperTale Sweden is a “first” on multiple levels. “A first for LCF/UAL to engage directly with the value chain and blockchain technology, a first for Sri Lanka and the handloom sector to collaborate directly with these talented students, and a first for a model of equal partnership and collaboration – a way forward to rewrite how we work between the global North and South,” said Selyna Peiris, Selyn Director.
The exhibition showcased unique and exclusive textiles ideal for home, lifestyle, and fashion products for the conscious creative. All textiles were organic, fair trade, vegan, and cruelty-free, handmade by local artisans supporting and inspiring communities around Sri Lanka.
Visitors to the launch event were able to scan an NFC tag to see the impact and transparency of the production process, including the fibre and dyeing process, the artisan who wove the textiles, and the impact on communities and the environment. This initiative was made possible through the partnership with PaperTale, a blockchain technology company that maximizes transparency and traceability in the production process.
“We are thrilled to partner with LCF and Selyn to showcase the potential of blockchain technology in the fashion industry,” said PaperTale’s founder Bilal Bhatti. “Our technology ensures environmental, social, and material transparency from the beginning to the end of a product’s life cycle, promoting ethical and sustainable practices and helping consumers make more informed decisions”.
The launch event also featured other exhibits, including UAL’s Central Saint Martin’s alumni Ranura Edirisinghe’s first Home Collection in collaboration with Selyn and “The Unfolding Tesseract” NFT by Kesara Ratnavibhushana, a tactile, audio, and visual experience showcasing the essence of the hand looming process in high definition.
The event celebrated craft and collaboration, representing an exciting milestone in UAL’s and Selyn’s partnership. “This partnership is a way forward to rewrite how we work between the global north and south,” said Selyna Peiris, Selyn Director. “We are committed to ethical and sustainable production, and this partnership with LCF and PaperTale has shown us that better ways to create and manufacture are possible.”
Image 1: Selyn Director, Selyna Peiris presenting High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in the UK Saroja Sirisena a vision of handloom to the world
Image 2: Mr Somasena Mahadiulwewa, Minister (Commercial) High Commission of Sri Lanka
Image 3: Robert Meeder and Selyna Peiris, founders and craft pioneers taking Sri Lankan craft to a global stage
Image 4: (L-R) Founder and Partner Robert Meeder & Selyna Peiris, Hannah Middleton Knowledge Exchange Lead at Fashion Business School, Liz Gee Dean Fashion Business School, Professor Andrea Teverson Pro Vice Chancellor Head of College UAL, Dr. Emmanuel Sirimal Silva
Image 5: Pioneering textiles and fashion designer Ranura Edirisinghe redefining Sri Lankan handloom