Amiable and altruistic, Pearly Wong is the girl next door making a splash overseas with her sustainable designs and philanthropic partnerships, affirms Samantha Lim
Pearly Wong’s Sze Women of Hope collection explores fashion for a cause through philanthropic partnerships
In true pearly wong fashion, the intrinsic ingredients are everpresent: loose-fitting fabrics, fluid shapes, a high-energy soundtrack with a thumping bass, and an unconventional catwalk that forces straightfaced models to make sharp, sudden turns, tracing geometric shapes in their stead and showing off the garments from every advantageous angle. The Pearly Wong Sze Women of Hope collection is, however, Wong’s maiden collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Exhibiting exceptional empathy, Wong and her team took refugee artisans from Myanmar and Pakistan under their wing, providing the displaced persons with vocational training plus a platform to vend their products. Linguistic barriers occasionally left both parties speechless, but visuals would often save the day.
“My team and I use samples or pictures to illustrate the results we are aiming for,” elucidates Wong. “Thankfully, sewing is a very visual process, so we can communicate by way of observation and repetition.” Conducive to our climate and far from a strain on one’s purse strings, the outcome is a very wearable collection tailored for the Malaysian market. “Five years ago when I was just starting out, I was all about avant garde show pieces that the market wasn’t really ready for,” says the designer in retrospect. Nevertheless, certain facets remain a constant: “The draping in this collection is pretty much part of the Pearly Wong design DNA,” she maintains. When probed to reminisce on even earlier memories, Wong reveals, “The childhood experience that predestined my becoming a fashion designer was hanging around my parents’ office.” Her family ran a children’s clothing label called Biz:kid, which franchised the likes of Mickey Mouse and Tom and Jerry labels, plus provided her with an expedient firsthand look at the behind-the-scenes of fashion. “As the only kid in the office, I was expected to aid the decision-making process—like a test subject!” she says with mirth. Needless to say, Wong has long grown accustomed to making the call and passing judgement on design, and admirably chooses to advocate just causes via her projects. Sustainability has been a core concern of her company even prior to founding the Sze Women of Hope non-profit. Though not an overnight process, Wong asserts that it is possible to lessen the damage done by the fashion industry, which is unfortunately and undeniably, a detrimental source of textile waste and overflow. Can mindfulness truly turn the tables? She tells us: “The idea is for everyone to be aware of the consequences and to start to make a shift. The average person who wants to make a difference can start supporting local designers instead of buying fast fashion.” Learn more about Sze Women of Hope on szewomenofhope. wordpress.com.
“The average person who wants to make a difference can start supporting local designers instead of buying fast fashion”
MOTIVE IN MOTION The Pearly Wong Sze Women of Hope Fashion Show at Black Box, Publika zoomed in on the fate of political refugees in today’s current state of international affairs
IN CAHOOTS WITH CORUM The Swiss manufacturer of luxury watches was the cornerstone for the Sze Women of Hope cause; Pearly Wong is seen wearing the Corum Bubble Death Star Automatic in the portrait above