Malaysian fashion designer, Pearly Wong, first launched her eponymous label in Kuala Lumpur in 2012 after graduating from Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York. Culture Trip profiles Pearly Wong to discover the inspiration behind her creative and ecologically-minded designs, as well as the reasons for choosing Berlin as her newest city to conquer.
What got you interested in fashion?
That would be my parents, as I grew up around my parent’s factory. They were manufacturing kids-wear, and it was intriguing and fun to see how the process all comes together.
How, if at all, do you incorporate your Malaysian heritage/nationality into your clothes?
Malaysia being a country with tropical climate the whole year round did influence me to design more basic pieces to accommodate the customer base in Kuala Lumpur, but my heritage and nationality do not really play a big role in my designs.
Who do you design for? Who is the ‘Pearly’ woman?
The ideal ‘Pearly Wong’ girl is an independent girl who knows herself and how valuable her individuality is. She is confident in being herself, and that is what makes her a cool girl.
Black seems to be your go-to color choice, and your designs embody the typical Berlin club-goer. How do you feel your designs fit into the fashion scene in Berlin?
I think that my designs are very relevant to the Berlin fashion scene, because the color black is very Berlin. Design in Berlin is very structural, almost industrial, which I find a strong relation with as a fashion designer.
What do you love most about Berlin? Does Berlin life and/or culture have any influence on your designs?
What I love most about Berlin is how much artistry there is in the city and also its energy. People’s livelihood makes a city come alive. The Berlin culture has no doubt made an influence on my designs.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your collections?
My inspirations are mainly from our planet’s health and its current environmental state. It is a recurring theme throughout my fashion career, as it is an issue I feel strongly towards. For example, my previous collection was called Destruction, and the designs were based on the deterioration of our earth caused by global warming.
Is your own personal style similar to the collections you design?
Yes, it is. I see a strong relevance between my personal style and my designs, as I am constantly after garments that are practical and sustainable. Something simple yet with a long lifespan.
What challenges have you faced as a designer?
As a designer, it would be to make decisions. There are just some situations where you have to put your foot down and say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ — those are challenges to me, because my label is on the line. And to hold that responsibility is a great and scary thing at the same time.
Could you clarify how you got your start in Berlin, and why you chose Berlin, of all cities?
I was chosen to take part in a pop-up store in Berlin about a year ago, and it was temporary, but one thing led to another, and I ended up having to be based there as well. I think Berlin is a great city for my business. The market and industry there are more receptive to my presence, and I really do appreciate the city.
How do you split your time between Kuala Lumpur and Berlin?
As my main office is still in Kuala Lumpur, I go back to Malaysia to develop my designs until the end of production, then go to Berlin for a handful of months. It is still very new to me, so I take it as I go.
You have shown two collections at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Berlin (MBFWB), for Autumn/Winter 2015 and Spring/Summer 2016. Can you explain what this meant to you as a designer and how the exposure has helped your career?
The MBFWB shows played a great role in my career, as it gave me good exposure. Being so far from home, it really made me feel welcome as a designer abroad. I am really grateful for the opportunities and am looking forward to more things in the future!
You recently opened your own store — Level Eight — in Berlin. Can you tell us more about it?
It started with a few friends, and eventually we worked out Level Eight. Level Eight is a store that houses the work of many edgy, young designers. It focuses on minimal design with an avant-garde aesthetic from the floor to the products.
Purchase Pearly’s designs online or check out Level Eight.
Open Monday to Saturday, 11:30am to 9pm.