LOVI CEYLON: Building a New National Style

Luxury clothing brand LOVI CEYLON’s newest take on Sri Lankan national dress comes from picturing Sri Lankans as a team and asking what our collective visual identity would look like.

Aptly named ‘Reimagine’ LOVI interprets our history, our warmth and our customs to create a national dress. In fact, the collection showed 16 different national looks for men and women that captures Sri Lanka as one nation and one team.

“LOVI nationals are designed to be elegant uniforms for the forward-thinking Sri Lankan” said LOVI CEYLON Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Asanka de Mel, explaining the concept of ‘Reimagine’. “We need clothes that confidently express our roots, our values and our grand ambitions too,” he added.

The sarong is one of Sri Lanka’s iconic garments and forms an integral part of our national style identity including that of our national dress. Setting up shop in 2016, LOVI has set about reinventing the sarong, bringing innovation and design to create a new style statement for the modern man or woman.

‘Reimagine’ takes this vision forward, repositioning the Sri Lankan national dress for an ambitious new generation coming into their own––a generation free of colonialism and unscathed by war, with the power to redefine Sri Lanka and its identity and take the nation forward into a new era of optimism, prosperity and unity.


The Inherent Diversity Behind Sri Lanka’s National Dress

Owing to Sri Lanka’s strategic position on the world map,we have always exchanged with different cultures, adapting concepts from these cultures and making them our own.

From age-old craft like beeralu lace to rasa kavili like kavum and kokis, many of the things we hold to be unequivocally Sri Lankan, are in fact, results of generations of cultural exchange. The sarong itself, a looped piece of cloth that can be draped and tied easily, despite being embraced by Sri Lankans, takes its roots from Indonesian culture. The word sarong is an evolution of the Indonesian word saraung. Before the sarong’s appearance on the style circuit, the reddha was worn by men and women alike.

Though sometimes seen as a divisive political tool, Sri Lanka’s national dress is, in fact, a testament to Sri Lanka’s history of diversity and inclusion. With the sarong’s Indonesian origins and the kurta’s Indian origins, Sri Lanka’s national dress shows how the influences over the centuries have created our visual identity.


A National Dress for Women

‘Reimagine’ brings the national dress to women. “There is no men’s equal national dress for women. The saree and the reddha-hetta are stand-ins” de Mel said. “We’re giving a contemporary interpretation of the national for women. Even the lama sari is refreshed to create a style statement that any girl can feel powerful and cherished in.”

‘Reimagine’ uses a vibrant palette that moves away from the traditional national dress colour scheme to capture Sri Lanka’s cultural diversity, mixing in elements and motifs that tell the story of Sri Lanka through design and detail development.

The ‘Reimagine’ collection broadens the concept of national dress and features reinterpretations of classic Sri Lankan styles, like the Kandyan nilame, reinterpreted in silk with an elegant velvet mini-jacket with, hand-embroidered motifs from the Kandyan Kingdom. De Mel explained that ‘Reimagine’ draws a picture of what traditional royal and ceremonial clothing would become today, with traditional motifs still being used for symbolism, although in a different form than it was used when the Kandyan kingdom was at the height of its power.

LOVI’s national pride extends to all aspects of the brand. Designed and made locally, LOVI clothing showcases Sri Lankan craftsmanship and resources to create signature pieces that not only nurture the local craft industry, but also maintain international standards.

De Mel commented on LOVI’s tireless commitment to quality explaining that “a similar quality would cost at least three times as much internationally. “

A United National Style Identity

Reimagine’ is an unapologetic celebration of a prosperous, united Sri Lankan future. This clothing is made for the modern royalty of Sri Lanka, those who understand the role they play in building a united and prosperous future.

De Mel explained that the new LOVI national dress “evokes a magical sense of confidence and vitality that is hard to describe. It allows us to embody a unique style that we as Sri Lankans, as a united nation, can fully appreciate. It is a style alternative for all Sri Lankans, from corporate leaders to the proud Sri Lankan out on the town.”


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