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  • Writer's pictureAnnika Fernando

PR Designer | Kayamai

Around a year ago, I came across Kayamai on social media and started stalking the young artist. I reached out to Aadhitya and asked her if she was interested in working with PR. She was excited, but said she needed time. I let her be. She would reach out every now and then and tell me she was working on her collection, but to be honest I didn't take it too seriously.

In my work, I come across many young designers and I spend hours with them in consultation discussing their brand, ideas and next steps. Some of them disappear and I never hear of them again, some appear elsewhere.

It's part and parcel of what I do and to be honest, I enjoy it.

One day when I was having a moment of disappointment with new local design which I was feeling was uninspired or over-inspired by the same tiny pond we all live in.... I got a message from young Aadhi. She said she was ready to come and meet me.

She walked into my office like a bright beaming light one morning and showed me 5 silhouettes with all over original print design. I was so excited and asked her when she could have the full production ready.

She really meant it. She was ready! She had already gone into production and just needed a date to deliver!

Seeing her work really refreshed my faith in authentic local talent.

Many times, PR gets the opportunity to be a storyteller or even raise awareness through design showcased. While chatting with Aadhi, I learned that this young lady feels at home both in Sri Lanka and India. Why? She's a Malaiyaha Tamil she shared..... and then it started to make sense to me.

I recently learned about this community through a dear friend (Mirak Raheem)'s involvement in an exhibition with the Collective for Historical Dialogue & Memory called "Rooted" which was held in August 2023 at the Public Library in Colombo. This year marks 200 years since the first recorded arrival of Tamil labourers from Southern India to Sri Lanka under British Colonial rule, to work on plantations. The exhibition exposes the struggle and longstanding demand for recognition of this community as fellow citizens in Sri Lanka. It also was timed concurrently with the march ‘Maanbumigu Malaiyaha Makkal’ – or 'honourable Malaiyaha people' from Mannar to Matale, an over 200km walk. Learn more here

This young lady doesn't label herself as a Fashion Designer, she actually is an Architect but has also been an Art Director, but predominantly an artist. Aadhi paints and digitalises her designs herself and creates the blocks for her simple silhouettes. It's her prints that do the talking. What is she shouting about and sharing? Tamil culture in a new age.

We asked Aadhitya what made her transitionnto clothing.

The idea of translating my art into fashion stemmed from a deep-seated desire to create art that transcends mere visual appeal and becomes an intimate part of one's daily life. Clothing, to me, is a canvas that breathes and pulsates, an embodiment of the emotions and energy I infuse into each piece.

What does Kayamai mean? The word Kayamai in ancient Tamil literature means lowness, spiteful, vengeful. The word so old, encompasses the plight of women and other marginalized communities in today's time so well thus the name and it aims to be the voice of the unheard.

"I find inspiration in the unspoken narratives of everyday life, in the raw emotions that bind us, and in the profound impact of collective healing. My journey is an exploration of the intersection between creativity and introspection, seeking to unveil the untold stories that resonate within each of us.", Aadhitya shares with us.

'Wildchild' is the name of this debut collection for retail by Kayamai, and how does Aadhitya feel about launching at PR?

"Launching my collection at PR fills me with an overwhelming sense of excitement and gratitude. This opportunity represents a significant milestone for my brand, marking a moment of validation and recognition for the tireless dedication I have poured into my craft. The prospect of presenting my work at such a prestigious platform not only ignites my creative spirit but also propels me towards honing my artistic prowess to new heights. I feel immensely fortunate that my unwavering commitment and perseverance are now bearing fruit, underscoring the profound impact of unwavering passion and resilience."

'Sometimes It's Just Personal' is the name of the print featured on the shirt dress pictured to the left. It's Aadhitya's favourite from her prints in this collection. Although they are all personal, this one just holds a special place in her heart she says.

"This piece is a testament to the intimacy and solitude we often seek, a reflection of those quiet moments when we choose seclusion over the chaos of the world. The illustration portrays a girl at ease, cucumbers on her face, encapsulating the serene comfort of her private sanctuary. It's a raw portrayal of the inner dialogue that asks, "What do you want to do? Nothing, maybe everything?" It invites the viewer to delve into their own introspection, echoing the unspoken narratives of self-discovery and contemplation."

Aadhitya is constantly seeking to bridge the gap between art and community. This young lady channels her energy into workshops that promote mental well-being, mindfulness and self discovery. It's imperative to her that the core of her efforts reflects a commitment to instigate positive change and nurture a culture of holistic healing, both within herself and wider society.

Shop Kayamai at PR here


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