Tucked among the lush greenery down Thurstan Road, it’s almost easy to miss the Amani clothing store. Inside, it is a cosy space of about 500 square feet, painted in soft pleasing tones to the eye, and one is greeted by a splash of colourful clothes on display. The label Amani caters to women and children and specializes in everyday comfort wear as well as workwear and smart casual clothing. Designed to give a homely shopping experience, a quick browse through the store will reveal stylish and quality clothing at affordable prices for women and kids of all ages.
Speaking to Amrita Hapuarachchi its proprietor, we find that there’s quite a story that lies behind the label. She traces back its beginnings to when she used to sell off excess stock lots of garments which eventually grew into a fully-fledged label selling their own designs. She realized that there were only a few labels out there that catered to curvy women and even fewer labels that manufactured child-friendly clothing. In wanting to bridge this gap, Amrita created the label, with the simple philosophy that one must look and feel comfortable in what one wears.
When asked about how she was propelled into designing we were surprised to find that she had studied Economics and Journalism abroad, before returning to Sri Lanka and opening up Amani. However, as the daughter of Mrs. Sita Hapuarachchi, one of Sri Lanka’s first female entrepreneurs and pioneers in the garment industry, it isn’t surprising that she would have eventually followed her Mother’s footsteps. She explains that not only has her mother inspired her in her choice of work, but also as a person, in all her values such as her perseverance, workmanship and the way she treats people.
Teamwork contributes towards the success of Amani – Amrita tells us that team Amani consists of herself, her design partner, pattern maker and the factory supervisor. According to her, she, together with her design partner come up with the designs and then their pattern maker and factory supervisor will come up with simpler methods of making and creating the garment.
While Amani retails clothes for women of all ages, shapes and sizes, what makes them extra special, is their range of clothing for juniors, as they are a label synonymous with both style and comfort – something parents find hard to come by. Their kids’ range is for kids from 6 months all the way up to teenagers. They offer an extensive range of casual clothing in addition to party wear.
The selection of clothes for kids at Amani is wide and ranges from tops and rompers to shorts and dresses. Their store is a burst of colours of trendy and attractive clothing to keep both parents and children satisfied. One is spoilt for choice with an array of designs and styles that include floral patterns, denim styles, delicate laces and even unique patchwork clothing. When asked about the latest kids’ trends and how Amani stays updated, Amrita admits that it is tricky, as kids’ likings range from one to another. As she puts it, while some may prefer glitzy, sparkling clothing, some others would prefer soft scratch-free material, making it extremely hard for parents to shop for their children. This is where Amani steps in, as they have clothes that will not only appeal to trendy kids but also to their careful and cautious parents.
Perhaps it’s the fact that Amrita herself, a mother of a twelve-year-old son, that lies in the secret of Amani’s carefully thought-out kids’ wear. What sets Amani apart from other kids’ clothing labels, is their choice of fabric, as they mostly stick to cotton and soft fabrics ideal for Sri Lanka’s tropical weather. They carry out a careful inspection of the fabric before finally choosing it, ensuring that they are free of harmful dyes and chemicals and that they are child friendly. Furthermore, all fabrics used, are pre-washed to prevent shrinking or colours running. Parents can also rest assured that infant clothing are free of potential choking hazards.
An interesting range offered by Amani is their vibrant and playful range of matching outfits for mothers and daughters. Initially taking up the challenge to cater to several inquiries from mothers of soon-to-be one-year-old girls, Amrita realized that it was challenging to come up with styles that could work for both age groups that can be both fashionable and comfortable. However, she says it all eventually came together and this collection is very much in demand for not just first birthdays but also for older daughters and mothers.
Despite manufacturing high-quality clothes and working with export level operators, prices start under LKR 1000/- for kids. Amani means “aspiration” in Arabic and “harmony” in Swahili. Amrita believes that one would aspire to look good and be in harmony with themselves, and through her label tries to ensure that her customers are able to be just that.
They are located at 110 Thurstan Road, Colombo 3, and are open every day except mercantile holidays from 10 am to 7 pm. They have parking in the front of the store as well as on the by-road adjoining the store. They also offer a cash on delivery option. Check them out for yourself on their Facebook page www.facebook.com/amani.clothing and Instagram handle @amani.clothing
By Shanya Cooray