LONDON, United Kingdom — Han Chong, founder and creative director of Self-Portrait, is throwing his support behind young London talent with the launch of a five-year scholarship programme with Central Saint Martins. Launching in November 2019, the contemporary fashion brand will offer financial backing for five students on the MA Fashion course — one each year — until 2023.
For Chong, a Central Saint Martins alumnus himself, the scholarship stems from his own experiences as a student before he founded Self-Portrait in 2013. “I’ve been through a lot [and made] mistakes… it’s a tough industry and often you only have a few chances,” he told BoF. “I want to set up a hub where we get talent from across the industry, so that when people have questions, we can be there for them.”
In addition to receiving financial support, students on the scholarship programme will be mentored by Chong and key stakeholders within the company on how the fashion industry operates in a business capacity. “[Students] need to understand that [their] career needs to be much more agile than it used to be,” said Central Saint Martins’ MA Fashion course director Fabio Piras.
Commercial awareness, he added, is also key. Self-Portrait is “a really modern business, a modern brand. [Chong has shown that] you can be creative, contemporary and also have a very strong focus on what your business is going to be and make it grow,” he explained. Indeed, in less than five years, Malaysian-born Chong has turned his contemporary label into a household name.
Central Saint Martins’ MA Fashion course has nurtured some of the world’s leading fashion talent, including Alexander McQueen, Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders and Phoebe Philo. Donatella Versace, Stella McCartney and Mick Jagger, in memory of his late partner L'Wren Scott, have previously launched scholarship programmes for students on the course.