A mono­chrome jewel

> Get an in­sight into the world of fash­ion through de­signer Pearly Wong

The Sun (Malaysia) - - STYLE - BY YEO CHIA HUI

WHEN other chil­dren were busy playing see­saw and swings at the play­ground, Pearly Wong was playing with fabrics and man­nequins at her par­ents’ kids’ ap­parel com­pany. Al­beit un­con­ven­tional, this child­hood ex­pe­ri­ence played a role in de­ter­min­ing her fu­ture as a fash­ion de­signer. “I think I have al­ways wanted to dab­ble in the cre­ative in­dus­try. It could have been any­thing ac­tu­ally, but I chose fash­ion be­cause I knew it was some­thing that I could fall back on. I have seen my par­ents do it and they did it suc­cess­fully, so it mo­ti­vated me to pick fash­ion,” ex­plained the Fash­ion In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy grad­u­ate. Af­ter launch­ing her epony­mous la­bel in 2012, she went on to make waves in the lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional fash­ion mar­kets. In just two years, her clothes are now stocked in Sin­ga­pore, Hong Kong, China, Lon­don and Ber­lin. She has also par­tic­i­pated in Mercedes-Benz Fash­ion Week Ber­lin 2015 and New Zealand Fash­ion Week 2016. In Pearly Wong, one can find unique, wear­able and eth­i­cally con­scious hand­made cloth­ing. The edgy aes­thetic ex­tends to the colour choice too, as the la­bel’s DNA is in­her­ently black and white.

If you’re asked to sum up your la­bel in a sen­tence, it’ll be... Mul­ti­func­tional clothes with geo­met­ric shapes.

You men­tioned that Pearly Wong uses sus­tain­able prac­tices. Can you elab­o­rate on this? The rea­son I like to make mul­ti­func­tional clothes is to elon­gate the life cy­cle of the cloth­ing. This way, you can wear it from sum­mer to win­ter. Ad­di­tion­ally, geo­met­ric shape is a re­cur­ring fea­ture in my col­lec­tions as it uses all parts of the fabric and this pre­vents fabric wastage. These are just some ef­forts on how I con­trib­ute to the en­vi­ron­ment as a de­signer.

Since your de­but, you have pro­duced six col­lec­tions. Com­par­ing your first col­lec­tion to the lat­est one, has there been any change in your de­sign­ing style? Oh, def­i­nitely. When I first started, I made a lot of avant garde jack­ets – big, bulky pieces that are made of leather and PVC. In my sec­ond year, how­ever, I be­gan to make more ready-to-wear pieces for the pur­pose of sell­ing.

What do you en­joy the most about your job? When some­one recog­nises my clothes in a rack be­cause they can see how the out­fit is quintessen­tially me. My clothes are a part of my iden­tity, hence it feels good when oth­ers see that too.

Was it dif­fi­cult pen­e­trat­ing the over­seas mar­kets? Yes, of course. You need to reach a cer­tain stan­dard be­fore they ac­knowl­edge you as an in­ter­na­tional de­signer. Nev­er­the­less, you can’t let this de­ter you. The first step is to take the plunge; put your­self out there, learn from those de­sign­ers and de­velop your­self.

Can you tell us about some of the chal­lenges that you faced when you ven­tured out of the coun­try? I feel like one of the main chal­lenges that I had to come to terms with was the cul­tural difference in terms of work­place per­son­al­i­ties. They work in a fast-paced and di­rect mode, whereas Malaysians are more re­laxed. Peo­ple abroad ac­tu­ally yell or scream at you to get things done, but there’s no hard feel­ings be­cause it’s noth­ing per­sonal.

In your opinion, what is the big­gest difference be­tween the lo­cal fash­ion con­sumers and the ones abroad? What I no­ticed when I was over­seas is that peo­ple there are more will­ing to spend to sup­port their lo­cal de­sign­ers, as op­posed to here. I can’t pin­point the ex­act rea­son for the difference in sup­port, but maybe it’s due to lack of aware­ness. Hope­fully, in years to come, Malaysians can grow to sup­port more lo­cal de­sign­ers.

Where do you see your la­bel in 10 years? I still see my­self do­ing what I am do­ing now, but from be­ing avail­able in five coun­tries, I’d like to see the la­bel flour­ish in more coun­tries. It’s mostly on the Euro­pean side now and it’ll be great if I can ex­pand to the United States. Since the lat­ter is where I got my ed­u­ca­tion from, I want to set up my la­bel there too.

Any ad­vice you’d give to as­pir­ing de­sign­ers? I think it’s al­ways good to be log­i­cal about your pas­sion. You can be pas­sion­ate about fash­ion de­sign – in fact, I see a lot of peo­ple who live and breathe it – but if you don’t have a good fi­nan­cial back­ground and a good busi­ness plan, then it’ll def­i­nitely be a strug­gle. Fash­ion de­sign­ing is 70% busi­ness and 30% cre­ativ­ity.

Pearly Wong is an ac­com­plished fash­ion de­signer.

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