Students on Chong’s scholarship programme will also receive mentorship from the CSM alumnus and the stakeholders within his company. “I’ve been through a lot [and made] mistakes… it’s a tough industry and often you only have a few chances,” Chong told Business of Fashion. “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.”
Central Saint Martins’ MA fashion course director Fabio Piras said that Chong was well placed to advise students. Since founding Self-Portrait in 2013, his brand has become a household name owing to its growing list of high-profile fans, including the Duchess of Sussex, Beyoncé and Michelle Obama. “[Students] need to understand that [their] career needs to be much more agile than it used to be,” Piras said of Chong’s ability to drive growth while maintaining his clear brand identity and vision.
“You have to create a handwriting that is distinctly your own that customers will connect with your brand,” Chong told Vogue upon opening his first London store in March 2018. “Also, in my case I really made sure to always think of our customers first. Making sure that they feel the love in the work that I do."
Chong joins Donatella Versace, Stella McCartney and Mick Jagger, in memory of his late partner L'Wren Scott, who have previously launched CSM scholarships. In a climate where arts education cuts are a huge concern, and the number of students studying the arts is falling because prospective students don’t realise the creative career avenues on offer, the Self-Portrait scholarship couldn't be more valuable.