BIO: A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, Pearly Wong’s eponymous label was founded in 2012. Three years later, she debuted her Fall/Winter 2015 collection at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin.
Ever since I can remember, I have always been exposed to the world of fashion, textile, and retail – my parents own a kids apparel brand and have been running it for over 15 years. I used to hang out at their work space a lot and, somewhere along the way, everything just clicked into place. Being able to see them earn a good living, while doing what they loved, convinced me that I could do the same.
I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, and it was that experience that helped shape my vision for Pearly Wong. After completing my studies, I returned to Kuala Lumpur before officially launching my label in 2012 with the help of my family. The feedback, so far, has been amazing, and I am thankful for all the support given to Pearly Wong. I would like to be known as the designer whose breakthrough involved innovative designs made using sustainable materials as I am very passionate about social and environmental issues. For me, the future of business lies in implementing green energy initiatives and giving back to the society by establishing strong CSR programmes.
In August, I organised an event with Swiss luxury watch manufacturer Corum. I am also the new ‘Friend of the Brand’ for South-East Asia for the iconic Bubble collection. I really like the workmanship of Corum’s watches, which have these intricate details that I find captivating. Wearing a Corum watch makes me feel strong and confident. My current favourite design is the Bubble Death Star model, which comes in black and has this timeless appeal.
The biggest struggle that I have faced throughout my career will have to be balancing between being a business woman and a designer, as these two don’t always mix. Having a passion for fashion simply isn’t enough to run a successful fashion business – you need to be financially savvy. To really make it in this industry, one must understand that being creative is only part of the equation. My advice is to comprehend the business, while building up your contact network and marketing your image. It takes a well-rounded person to survive this industry as it is always changing. If you don’t follow suit, you will be left behind.
Most designers want to be original and innovative, but this comes with a hefty price. To be able to do this while retaining customer acquisition is very challenging, especially since Malaysians still prefer shopping at fast fashion brands that are more affordable. There’s a perception that locally produced products are of lower quality and, therefore, not really worth paying for. However, there are also those who will go out of their way to support local designers, artisans and craftsman. A lot of designers struggle with this conflict, which is why I chose to sell my clothes overseas in Singapore, London, Berlin and in Hong Kong, but produce them in Malaysia. This allows me to remain an independent, original design studio while continuing to do what I love without any restrictions.