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How A History of Immigration Lead to Unique Collection

By Joshua Williams

23 Feb 2021

Each month Sass Brown, an expert in ethical fashion, sustainability and craftsmanship, shares a fashion brand that approaches business differently and innovatively or operates outside of the main fashion systems and capitals. Sass is the former Dean of Art and Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology and the founding Dean at Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation.

Would you rather listen to this story? Click here to find the podcast with Sass Brown.Would you rather listen to this story? Click here to find the podcast with Sass Brown.

The KUR Collection is a brand based in New York City that produces their collection primarily in Sri Lanka. According to Sass, “they’re a young contemporary womenswear, mostly dress collection, that incorporates handmade Portuguese and Dutch lace, but from Sri Lanka.” This traditional lace is called Biralu lace by Sri Lankans. Sass points out, “Traditional material culture is often just like culture itself, a response to immigration and to colonialism. This craft was transmitted to the ladies of leisure of Sri Lanka who used to do handmade lace in their own time. It’s beautiful, and now it’s a part of their culture and history.

Incorporating this specialized lace into the KUR Collection has become a unique selling proposition for the brand. According to Sass, “They include Biralu lace in almost every piece of the collection in some way, shape or form, although sometimes it’s very minimal.” And Kasuni, the creator and designer at the helm of KUR collection is dedicated to ensuring that this slow fashion tradition is not lost, but continued. Sass stresses, “Kasuni sees part of her role as sustaining that tradition as something that’s unique from the heritage that she has a product from.”

Kasuni hails from the southern coast Sri Lanka, home to the Dickwella Lace Center, where she produces her laces. The center was created in response to the tsunami that deeply impacted that community in 2004. And Sass underlines, “it’s the region where the invading forces came from Portugal and from the Netherlands, bringing their lacemaking traditions.”

Because the KUR Collection is meant for a contemporary customer, Kasuni has adopted that production and distribution model that is small in scale. This allows her to create modern silhouettes and incorporate handmade laces that are completely traditional in terms of pattern, color and material. This approach allows Kasuni to approach traditional artisanship in an ethical way Sass emphasizes. “She isn’t intervening and interfering in the tradition, codes, symbols and values that are embedded in it. She’s merely utilizing it in a different product,”

In many ways, Sass concludes, “Kasuni’s a perfect example of a small emerging designer who chooses to work with artisanship to differentiate her product, also impacting the tradition of a craft but appealing to a new young hip generation.”

To learn more about KUR Collection, you can visit their website, KURCollection.com. They also have a PR Concept Store in Colombo Sri Lanka.