Lonali Rodrigo

While Covid-19 has led society down a difficult path, the regrowth of wholesome environment and systems promises a better future. The absence of daily routines in bustling cities have subsequently reduced carbon emissions and cleared the holes of the ozone layer. Pre-COVID-19, we struggled to find our way out of climate change crisis. Now, as we sample an alternative urban ambience, we’re persistently reminded of sustainable practices that pre-existed. Fast fashion is one of many largely unhealthy contributing factors to a deteriorating environment and social malpractice, of which Lonali Rodrigo offered the solution of upcycling, which is seen as imperative more than ever. ‘House of Lonali’ fuels its function through upcycling, a unique approach of recycling that allows consumers and suppliers both, to utilize resources responsibly. From designing to supplying, upcycling is a creative reuse. It’s the process of transforming by-products, waste materials or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value. ‘House of Lonali’ becomes an ideal representation of sustaining the applied art of fashion through responsible initiatives. Founded by Lonali Rodrigo, the clear motives and objectives of ‘House of Lonali’ follows are those of upcycling, reusing and reducing in order to impact the environment and human resources through conscientious practices.

Founder/CEO and lead designer of ‘House of Lonali’, Lonali Rodrigo was born and raised in Colombo and went on to follow her passion in Designing at the renowned Academy of Design, Colombo. Following her ambition, Lonali received her BA (Hons) first class Degree in Fashion Design at the University of Northumbria. Her triumphant path led to the creation of her own social enterprise, House of Lonali among an array of fortuitous achievements. Lonali emerged as the winner of the Ethical Fashion Award at the Sri Lanka Design Festival and was awarded the Emerging Designer Award and Sustainable Designer Awards at the Sri Lanka Apparel and Fashion Awards in 2013. Her brand, ‘Lonali’ up-cycles apparel industry remnants minimizing the negative impact to the environment whilst maximizing the social benefit to the people. In conversation with ARTRA, Lonali emphasizes the need for sustainable fashion and the uprise of local fashion brands in the contemporary industry while exploring the vitality of small businesses. “We work with small industries, people who work from home, and craft artisans, we sometimes merge traditional craftsmanship and upcycling together.” ‘House of Lonali’ is representative in its practice of supporting local craftsmanship and in conversation, we discover the significance of these particular objectives and methods in trying times of COVID-19.

“Sri Lanka, as a country still retains the practice of passing down clothes, reusing and upcycling them. We should be valuing it rather than trying to adapt with the western world. In terms of pre-consumer, as an industry, we are a growing apparel industry but we have a lot of waste, burnt or in landfills, but I think as a designer, I don’t see the need to buy new fabric. That’s how House of Lonali contributes to this issue.” In conversation, Lonali explained how the local industry has an instilled version of upcycling and its ability and capacity to nurture these values and practices. The Sri Lankan practice of passing down and passing on clothes, re-modifying that which still exists and preserving these practices is a principle that Lonali is quick to insist on. The Sri Lankan fashion industry is not new to the modicums of preservation and sustenance and Lonali observes that it only becomes a matter of re-implementing these movements. 

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10th June, 2020 Applied Art

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