Dim sum, pandas, and pollution inspired fashionable catwalk creations from Hong Kong’s ethnic minority teens tasked with bringing their Hong Kong stories to life at the recent Seeing the Possibilities Fashion Show, organised by KELY Support Group (KELY).
Behind the silky fabrics, classy shapes, and elegant lines that swept along the catwalk, were personal connections with a complex society, where cultural clashes, environmental pollution, and political history continue to shape young lives.
Falling under the theme ‘My Hong Kong’, the extraordinary collection boasted 15 beautiful, bold, and at times rather abstract designs, oozing with originality and personality. “This dress reflects the lifestyle of Hong Kong and how I see the city,” explained 16-year-old Amandeep Kaur, whose bold creation turned heads at the show. “The structure of the dress represents the architectural landscape of the jagged city skyline. The gems are the lights of the buildings in the city that never sleeps. The colourful dress shows the diversity of cultures in Hong Kong with people from various ethnic backgrounds. The main attraction of Hong Kong for me is the buildings therefore I want to highlight the story of Hong Kong with my design of this dress.”
Concerns about the local environment provided inspiration for another 16-year-old, Aakriti Thapa. “This dress is about the pollution in Hong Kong,” she told us. “The whites and the greys represent clean and dirty air, respectively. The primary grey dress comments on the reality of pollution reducing Hong Kong’s quality of life.”
Traveling around the city inspired 17-year-old Rosanna Yen to create her grey and red MTR dress. She explained, “The MTR is one of the most important elements in the city. It represents this form of public transportation that I take to go to school everyday. My dress is very simple and suits every girl, just like how the MTR is suitable for the masses and welcomes everyone.”
And for 16-year-old foodie Sanjila Gurung, the city’s cuisine was the first thing that sprung to mind as she produced a dress that represents a basket full of dim sum (pictured above). “The inspiration of the dress comes from walking to the KCR every morning when I see people enjoying their dim sum breakfasts,” she told us. “I chose dim sum as the theme of my dress as it is symbolic of the food culture in Hong Kong. Linking the concept of food and fashion was not an easy task but I love trying new things and challenging myself.”
The young teens certainly rose to the challenge during the Seeing the Possibilities mentorship programme which, since 2010, has helped different communities of disadvantaged Hong Kong youth realise their own potential and build essential life skills through fashion design and event planning training.
Attending the show as a guest judge was Hong Kong fashion photographer Aanchal Wadhwani, who praised the programme for motivating and inspiring Nepalese, Filipino, Indian, and Pakistani youth in Hong Kong to understand their unique identity in the city. “There are youngsters who lose hope early on because of many pressures. With the programme, those youngsters can find a new light and explore a creative output of their emotions,” she said.
Check out the creative designs below.