Note: I worked at HK Magazine from December 2015 to April 2016 as an editorial writer. This article was published in the April 2016 issue of The List.
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Women in Focus: SW Wong
SW Wong is the co-founder of The Closeteur, Hong Kong’s newly launched online shopping mecca which features preloved items offered by celebrities, fashion influencers and industry professionals. It also works to support charities too: Half of the profits go to environmental charities 1% For The Planet and Aquameridian Conservation & Education (ACE) Foundation. Charmaine Ng talks to Wong about fashion waste and how she hopes to change Hongkongers’ view towards secondhand clothes.
Before starting The Closeteur, I worked in the fashion industry. On the side, I did charity work and was part of Shark Savers Hong Kong. I also launched [a campaign pledge to stop eating shark fin] I’m Finished With Fins with a friend. Through charity, I met a lot of people who worked for the environment and learned a lot about the field.
One year ago, together with a friend who was also interested in fashion and also did a lot of charity work, we began forming our business idea. Our goal was to combine our love for fashion and our passion about helping the environment together.
Many people do not know that they are indirectly contributing to pollution by partaking in fast fashion. Today’s popular culture is one where clothes are cheap, so people are always purchasing without thinking about the quality and whether or not they really like the items. The more we buy, the more we end up not wearing and throwing away. This in turn causes us to buy more.
This fashion waste contributes to the landfill problem as more than 10,000 tons of clothes are thrown away each year just in Hong Kong.
However, Hongkongers do not like to purchase secondhand clothes.
The Closeteur is different from other secondhand stores because we teach you how to mix and match the pieces we sell.
I previously lived in Australia and people there recycle as a part of their everyday lives. But it’s different in Hong Kong—the government here has to do a lot just to educate people on the subject. Nowadays, it has improved. Like recycling, it’s possible to change our attitude towards fast fashion clothes, it just needs time.
We want to change the view on secondhand clothes, not just convince people to buy them and that’s it. To change the industry, we must change ourselves and our spending habits first.
People always ask: are they from superstars? Why should I buy these secondhand clothes if I can get brand new ones?
Everyone wears a piece differently and the first owner will have thought of how to style the piece when they bought it.
A large number of celebrities are selling their old clothes through The Closeteur. They will model their items themselves to provide inspiration of how to wear their pieces for buyers.
We also have an interactive magazine online. There, we give information about fashion waste and tips on taking care of your clothes right to keep them new longer.
Half of our profits go to environmental charities, including 1% For The Planet and the Aquameridian Conservation & Education (ACE) Foundation.
Fast fashion in Hong Kong won’t change as long as the demand is still there. But I feel that education can slowly change the industry, just like our recycling habits and consumption of shark fin. It’s a personal choice that comes about through public education.
Shop sustainably from thecloseteur.com, where you can get free shipping all across Hong Kong