London-based, Sri Lankan-born designer Amesh Wijesekera has won the UK prize for the Circular Design Challenge (CDC), India’s biggest sustainability award.
The competition, organised by R|ElanTM, the next-generation fabric brand of India’s largest conglomerate, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), challenges designers to showcase products and innovations rooted in sustainability and circularity principles.
Wijesekera, a semifinalist for the LVMH prize, joins Pei-Wen Jin, the winner of the Hong Kong meet, finalists from the India meet, Riddhi Jain and Dhruv Satija, Jinali Mody and Arundhati Kumar, and Anish Malpani, along with the winner of the Milan Meet to participate in the final that will take place at Lakmé Fashion Week in partnership with the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) in October.
The Sri Lankan designer was chosen by the UK jury featuring Phoebe English, Sevra Davis, Sarah Ditty, Megan Doyle, Daniel Whitley and Wilson Oryema, beating off competition from UK finalists Namita Khade, Clara Chu, and Mariah Esa.
Wijesekera impressed the jury with his work alongside skilled craftspeople across Sri Lanka, including artisan communities of knitwear, crochet, and handloom, as well as his work with factory surplus fibres to close the loop on clothing waste.
The winner will be crowned at a grand final in India and will receive a seed fund of 14,000 pounds to develop their label, a six-month mentorship, and a stand-alone showcase at Lakmé Fashion Week x FDCI in March 2024. The runner-up will also receive a grant worth 4,000 pounds and mentorship. The winner and runner-up will be mentored by Orsola de Castro, co-founder of Fashion Revolution and creative director of Estethica.
Commenting on the competition, Rakesh Bali, senior vice president – head of marketing at Reliance Industries Limited, said in a statement: “We’re thrilled with the remarkable success of the UK jury event. The array of ingenious designs showcased, all embracing circularity and sustainability, was truly inspiring. The event demonstrated the immense potential of fashion to catalyse global change.
“We are delighted that the CDC initiative pioneered by Reliance Industries 5 years ago, that has nurtured environmental champions in India, is now poised to drive positive change in the sustainability landscape on a global level. Our heartfelt thanks go out to participants, jury members, and our partners British Council, United Nations in India and Lakmé Fashion Week x FDCI, as we collectively pave the way for a more sustainable fashion era.”