Plain Tiger Spotlight: Chamani

Fashion that fights the good fight 

By Renee Fortune

The story of Chamani, the brand, is the story of a migrant family who fled war-torn Sri Lanka to start a new life in Australia. Theirs is a story of fierce adversity but also of unrelenting courage. 

From turmoil to triumph

Often, the successes of second-generation immigrants in Western countries neglect to pay homage to the immense struggle that comes with uprooting the life of a family, traveling into an unknown country and doing it all because children deserve a better future. But founder, Chamani Weerasekara has never lost sight of the fact that her parents were real-life superheroes. 

She tells of watching her parents brave their way through financial hardships and the difficulties involved with finding stable job opportunities that would enable them to support their family. But they did it. And in the process, they raised a fighter. 

Chamani is; in every sense of the word, a freedom fighter on multiple fronts. Through her brand she advocates for the rights of women, for the dignity of the marginalised and for the upliftment of the people on whose hard-working shoulders the fashion industry has been built. 
Purpose-driven creativity

As a young woman, Chamani worked as a hospital pharmacist and went on to become a tour guide in South-East Asia. Here, she came face to face with the harsh lived realities of countless women and girls who are exploited for the sake of fashion.

The products of mass production are pretty. They are beautifully packaged and labeled and hung from the rails. But behind each row of rails are stories of mistreatment, horrific working conditions, marginal pay and human rights abuses. Many are none the wiser. But, due to the efforts of social entrepreneurs like Chamani Weerasekara, these carefully kept secrets are being exposed, compelling consumers to scrutinise their buying decisions and realise that every purchase represents a vote. 

When faced with the truth, will we choose to look the other way and perpetuate the status quo? Or will we dare to move in the opposite direction, towards meaningful change? The latter is a difficult path to navigate but just over the horizon lies the promise of an equitable future where people really matter. 

During her time as a tour guide, Chamani also witnessed first-hand how the ripple effects of the fashion industry impact the natural world. Polluted waterways and rising landfills are the products of an industry that relies on ‘throwaway culture’ – what we cherish today can be discarded tomorrow. 

Faced with these truths, Chamani felt compelled to act and to use her talents as a fashion designer to promote positive change. This was the inspiration behind Chamani, the brand – a conscious brand that sells “wearable activism.” 

As she explains: “I think of Chamani not as a brand, but as a movement. We exist solely to make an impact, using fashion as a force for good and a vehicle for change. We do this by creating a transparent, ethical value chain that allows us to give back at every stage of production and beyond.” 

For Chamani and her team, sustainability is anything but surface-level. It’s a philosophy that underpins every aspect of her business from how garments are manufactured to how the brand’s packaging is produced and the platforms used to take Chamani to customers all around the world. 

A brand for the “everywoman”

She achieves all these aims without comprising on style. In the collection you’ll find classic silhouettes like the Shenaz kaftan. It’s got the light, breezy texture and flowing silhouette of something that would be seen on the beaches of Greece. And in pieces like the Rekha Top, you’ll find hints of Mediterranean flair with its wraparound form and elegant balloon sleeves. 

One of the brand’s most attractive features is that its garments are tailored to suit any body shape and can be styled in a number of different ways. Every piece is a staple – the kind of item that will remain in your closet for a lifetime and can be passed down with pride to the next generation. Because, even with the changing of the eras and the passing of the trends, Chamani pieces retain their timelessness and trademark aesthetic as pieces that never go out of fashion. 

As Chamani explains: “Our collections are inspired by the colours of nature and created with a sense of reverence for the elements. Every detail is thoughtfully curated and sourced with people and the planet in mind. They are created by a team of talented artisans with sustainably sourced, custom fabrics such as Ikat. Our hand-dyed and hand-woven textiles are slow made over many weeks or months, using ancient, time-tested techniques.”

Each piece in the Chamni collection is named after a woman who was at a time, one of Chamani’s creative muses. To buy a garment is to invest in someone’s life story. Many of these muses are women that Chamani encountered on her travels or someone who works in the production facilities run by Chamani’s non-profit partners. 

Textiles are chosen with the environment in mind. In the range, you’ll find industry standard-regulated hemp and certified organic cotton yarn. Each garment is hand-woven and each print is hand-dyed by the brand’s artisan partners in India, using GOTS certified dyes. 

The beginning of a beautiful story

Chamani is a brand whose checks and balances all add up, and as a conscious consumer, you’ll be given all the information. Each garment comes with a Transparency Passport which outlines all the details on where the materials for the garment were sourced and how its price was calculated. 

Chamani is an open book – and we can’t wait to see what happens when you turn the page.
$548.37 USD
$548.37 USD
$548.37 USD
$479.39 USD