Success through Sustainability – Yasotharan Paramanantham

Yasotharan Paramanantham – CEO of Long Island Clothing Company (LiCC Jeans)

This may come as a surprise to some, but the power behind the Long Island Clothing Company (LiCC Jeans), Yasotharan Paramanantham, began his career journey in the ICT industry, before making a complete U-turn and finding his true calling in the Fashion and Apparel industry.

“Just after completing my Bachelor’s Degree in Computing & Information Systems, I started my career in the field of ICT. With 14 years of experience in the field, moving from ICT to the Fashion industry was an enormous change in my career. I would say that I was destined to be in the Fashion and Apparel industry. I have been enjoying my career for the past 7 years, and I’m most certainly here to stay.”

Of his transition from ICT to Fashion, Yasotharan narrated, “It all began with my former superior, who saw my potential as a salesman. From being a part of training, development and talent acquisition in the ICT field, I started mastering the public sector, corporate and retail selling in a meaningful way. Box selling was challenging, with assembled computers starting to dominate the market. Nevertheless, I have always been a strong believer in brands and values, which gave me the edge to direct my team with the same vision, which helped us to be successful in all the business segments we were following. By that time, I had completed my Master’s in Strategic Marketing, and realized my passion for developing brands and marketing. I understood that the Fashion industry had a huge potential for me to explore. At a time when everyone thought I was making all the wrong decisions; I stood my ground on what I thought was the best for me, and here I am doing what I love.”

Yasotharan is a firm believer in integrity when it comes to ethics in the workplace, as he explained, “I’m a strong believer in personal integrity. You can have all the leadership skills in the world, but it wouldn’t mean anything without integrity. I always believe in doing the right thing, even when no one is watching, and that helps build your relationship with your consumers and employees. I also believe in not making promises you can’t keep. Being honest with yourself and the people around you, helps to set the right ethical culture from the top, which will build trust, and that is the key to success.”

Voicing his opinion of the Sri Lankan Apparel industry, Yasotharan expressed, “The Apparel industry is one of the most significant contributors towards the Sri Lankan economy. It is indeed a challenging industry in Sri Lanka, with many leading organizations that not only cater to the local marketplace, but are also well known for catering international brands. I am proud to be a part of this prestigious industry, which is reputed worldwide as a manufacturer of high-quality apparel. With the constant evolution in the sector, I see immense potential for the Apparel industry, and we need to adapt to deliver what the consumer prefers.”

On the topic of the challenges faced by the Apparel industry, Yasotharan stated, “The cost of procuring raw materials has been a rising challenge in the Apparel industry. With there being very little production of raw materials within the country, it is identified to be one of the foremost issues faced by the industry. More than 70% of the fabrics used in the industry are imported, which subsequently increases the cost of the final output. With the assistance of the Authorities and leading manufacturing organizations, we need to encourage the labor force in Sri Lanka to produce our own raw materials, which will result in a rise in the economy, with the reduction of the transportation and import taxes paid majorly for raw materials.”

The younger generations, Gen Z and Gen Alpha are more concerned about the purpose and making (e.g. is the material environment friendly?) of their clothing, rather than exclusivity and price tags. Discussing how this impacts the Apparel industry and the manner in which it can adapt to the trend, Yasotharan stated, “While apparel is the 7th largest economy, it is also the second largest polluting industry, after oil and gas. With the younger generation being cautious in avoiding the depletion of natural resources, in order to maintain an ecological balance, there have been many innovations in the Apparel industry. Significant changes are expected to take place in the future, from using natural fiber in the making of materials to natural colorings out of bacteria, which are currently being tested with the advancement of technology. With the increasing demand for sustainable manufacturing methods, industries need to adapt to what the consumer demands. LiCC is a subsidiary establishment of the Hirdaramani Group, which is a company known for its broad vision, and capacity to explore and always be ahead of the game, using breakthrough technology and sustainable solutions. LiCC’s first initiative – the ‘’Green Jeans’’, which is the premier jean collection worn by the National Cricket Team, was created using highly sustainable manufacturing infrastructure. The fabric is manufactured with 40% less chemicals, and 50% less water and energy, than the standard jean manufacturing process, and also ensures zero discharge and optimal environmental conservation by reusing plant emission, such as heat and steam. As a brand, LiCC Jeans continuously attempts to give back to the society, and with the launch of our own CSR initiative – ‘Jeewanali’, which we believe will not only help make a living for the underprivileged communities of Sri Lanka, but also ensure that eco-friendly products are produced to cater to the local and international markets.” 

“It is important to get your branding strategies aligned with cultural leanings, as it could affect the image of your brand. In fact, we have gone through this phase and realized the importance of communicating our strategies via different mediums to different communities across the country. With the use of social media, the accountability for brands has increased. Therefore, it is important to be honest with your consumers and ensure that they are attended to at any cost. Brands tend to ignore consumer complaints at their own risk, which results in consumers boycotting brands. A recent study shows that 35% of the younger generation agreed that they would boycott any brand that did not respond to consumer complaints”, responded the CEO, to the question of how brand-shaming impacts the Fashion industry globally and locally. 

Speaking of the future of LiCC, Yasotharan noted, “The Denim industry continues to evolve with the shifting trends, changes in consumer behavior and advancing technologies worldwide. As a home-grown brand, we are proud of our status and how well we have been able to position ourselves in the market as Sri Lanka’s number one jeans brand, by designing and crafting our products to meet international standards. The much awaited ‘Jeneration’, our annual fashion show, which features the upcoming trends for 2020, will also take place this year. With denim being a fashion that transcends gender, age and class, it can be used by anyone and everyone, and we are striving to deliver a better customer experience with our expansion into digitalization, and transform the way we do business. LiCC has been the ‘Official Casual Clothing Partner’ for the Sri Lankan Cricket Team since May 2018, and was also appointed by Disney as the authorized manufacturer and wholesale distributor in Sri Lanka and the Maldives for Marvel, Disney and Star Wars apparel.  We are excited and looking forward to some exciting changes for the year 2020.”