Blog: Leonie BarrieSLAEA 25th anniversary celebration

Leonie Barrie | 14 November 2007

I had a fantastic opportunity to catch up with many familiar faces last night at the Sri Lankan Apparel Exporters’ Association annual meeting, which was attended by hundreds of the industry’s top players. By coincidence, this year is also the 25th anniversary of the association, and amidst much reminiscing about the industry’s ups (and downs) – and hilarity at the way executive attire and hairstyles have changed over the years – it was more than apparent that the bedrock on which the sector built itself is much the same a quarter century later.

Of course worries over quota allocation are long gone, but what is still the same is the way private sector manufacturers are working together rather than promoting their individual interests to build the industry internationally, along with a genuine concern for the welfare of their workers. From a standing start in 1982, they’ve built an industry with exports of around $3bn, which is quite an achievement.

It’s lucky the companies get on so well since they seem to spend a lot of time socialising with each other! Tonight a graduate catwalk show is being organised to show off the skills of local design students, followed by a gala reception. I’ve got an early start tomorrow, with meetings that will continue well into the evening, but I think I’ve earned my glass of wine this-evening!


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