Get to know celebrity-favourite fashion label Self-Portrait (and its Malaysian founder Han Chong)
Fact: It’s impossible to mention celebrities’ favourite fashion brands without thinking of London-based label Self-Portrait. Founded by Malaysian designer Han Chong in 2013, the brand’s accessible price point—coupled with great designs and quality—has led to its meteoric rise to success. And while most of us are familiar with the brand’s signature asymmetrical necklines and alluring lace dresses, the brand has expanded its offerings into swimwear, eyewear, and footwear in recent years, which have proven to be equally well-loved.
Want to get to know more about the contemporary label? Below, six things to know about Self-Portrait that might just make you love the brand even more:
Founder and creative director, Han Chong, is from Penang, Malaysia
Han Chong was born and raised in Penang, and he grew up in the Sungai Ara neighbourhood. After working for a local designer for a few years, he left to study womenswear design at London’s Central Saint Martins when he was 22.
He was the co-founder of womenswear label Three Floor
Before starting Self-Portrait, the designer co-founded fashion label Three Floor in 2011 with his partner, Yvonne Hoang. After finding himself yearning for more artistic control over his work, he left to start his own brand two years later, and the rest is history.
It all started with humble beginnings
Although Han Chong had the experience and the help from investors, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows at the start. Self-Portrait started with just him and an intern, and according to The Straits Times, it was hard to find a factory that would produce his intricate designs during the early days. But the brand pulled through and scored its first major stockist, Selfridges, in 2014, and the collection on the shop floor sold out in three days. Now, the brand has over 375 stockists in more than 70 countries.
The brand as a long list of celebrity—and royalty—clientele
From the It-girls in Asia (including the likes of Blackpink Jisoo and Lisa, Dilraba Dilmurat, and Priyanka Chopra) to the A-listers in Hollywood (such as Beyoncé, Kristen Stewart, and Emily Blunt), be it on or off-duty, Self-Portrait has proven to be a celeb-favourite.
Aside from that, the brand also has a loyal royal following too. Princess Beatrice, Meghan Markle, and Kate Middleton have all been spotted in Self-Portrait’s designs, and the latter’s pleated crochet maxi dress—worn to a film premiere in 2016—was definitely one of her most memorable looks.
Self-Portrait is expanding with standalone stores
After almost five years in the business, the brand opened its first standalone flagship store on Albemarle Street in London in 2018, and its second—the first in Asia—in Central Embassy in Bangkok early this year. Will a boutique in Malaysia be next? Guess we'll have to wait to find out.
The brand is supporting young talent with an Instagram competition
The pandemic’s devastating impact on the fashion industry is apparent, and Han Chong knows just how tough it is for young independent designers to survive during these trying times. "I want to support and foster this thriving creative community where artistic expression refuses to be limited during these challenging times," Chong said in a statement. "Investing in the next generation of talent is fundamental."
In conjunction with the unveiling of its Autumn/Winter 2020 campaign in July, Self-Portrait has also launched a #SPforHope project—a global competition where creatives can submit any artistic medium be it in the form of photo or video. Five winners will each receive 5,000 pounds, and their work will be featured on the brand’s website, social media, and newsletter.