Sri Lanka’s iconic fashion retail store Cotton Collection dons a silver crown as it celebrates its 25th anniversary in shaping Sri Lanka’s fashion space. The journey that began in 1991, has today seen Cotton Collection become a brand that owns a signature niche in the carefree casual fashion realm, collating a 180 strong team manning six stores working with fifty factories, 300 suppliers and 500 products. The occasion also heralded the launch of exciting new instore brand spaces for Cotton Collection’s two indigenous brands, COCO and Raspberry, echoing the relaxed ambience and vignettes of trendy chic, synonymous with the unique persona of each brand. COCO caters to the free spirit, reflecting the Bohemian carefree lifestyle that remains at the heart and soul of the Cotton Collection ethos. Cotton Collections’ accessory brand RASPBERRY is a vibrant palette of fun and trendy jewellery and handbags that compliments the fashion sense of the young modern woman.
Speaking to the media, Managing Director Niloufer Esufally Anverally reminisced that she began at a time when there was no internet, iPhones or social media. “I saw a big gap between what was manufactured at the factories and what was seen in Colombo’s retail shops. This led me to venture into the big garment factories and handpick clothes to sell to a close niche of friends and family. The demand grew tremendously and coping with that demand became challenging. This drove me to take the next step. Using the little capital I had, lots of enthusiasm, my car and a driver being my only help, I filled my car boot with boxes and began buying trendy fashionable clothing from the wide network of factories, supplying a few big stores. Dabbling in fashion retail thrilled me then, as it does now”.
Niloufer then launched her company Cotton Club, having sellout sales at Jubilee Hall at Union Place, doing everything single-handedly. “It was exhausting but the rewards were amazing. I love the diversity that retail presented. I ploughed the profits right back into the business and before long, opened my first store on the second floor of the Majestic City. Thus began the birth of Cotton Collection.” Soon after, the first Leather Collection Store opened its doors at Liberty Plaza.
Niloufer says at the onset it was all a one woman show, from sourcing, store set up, visual merchandising to handling the accounts. Although she is very involved to date, over the years she has worked with amazing teams that infused creative energy to grow Cotton Collection to be the fashion trailblazer it is. From Majestic City to Liberty Plaza, Flower Road, to the Hilton Colombo, Pelawatte, and Dharmapala Mawatha and more recently Kandy, the retail outlet network has grown in stature, size and team. “I know I have a team that can conquer even the toughest of challenges because it is their dynamism, motivation and the “Nothing is impossible” attitude that has taken us to where it is today.”
Mentioning that 143 Dharmapala Mawatha was undoubtedly her biggest milestone, Niloufer says, “This was the biggest leap we took as a brand, changing the game and moving to a different platform of professionalism.” Then came the launch of its own brand COCO in August 2014, an exciting moment where a brand emerged from nothing other than an idea and a dream. This set COCO on a path that will surely make it Cotton Collection’s future, a future which it embarks on through its next chapter of 25 and beyond.