Carolina Wong

Design and doing good in the world don’t always go hand in hand, but for Carolina Wong, the two are intrinsically linked. Born in Hong Kong and now based in London, the handbag designer sources sustainable materials, works with skilled artisans, and supports young Moroccan girls by giving back. Wong’s global mindset and focus on craftsmanship contribute to the concept of slow luxury, of employing talented individuals to produce high-quality goods with care. In a society obsessed with fast fashion, handcrafted goods truly are a luxury, and designers like Wong realize the value in creating products that will stand the
test of time.

Carolina Wong knew from a young age that fashion was in her future. “I started experimenting with DIY fashion in middle school, and I was always known as the black sheep in the family because of my passion,” says Wong. “In high school I took a part-time fashion design course, and I realized fashion is not just a hobby. It requires full dedication.” After studying woven textile design at the Chelsea College of Art and Design and working on a number of creative projects, Wong decided it was time to bring her vision of sustainably-sourced, finely-crafted handbags to life. Development of her company began in 2015, and by February of 2016, the Carolina Wong brand was born.

After much trial and error in searching for the right manufacturing processes, Wong discovered a tannery in Fez, Morocco, and fell in love with the techniques that had been passed down from artisan to artisan since the 8th century. All of Wong’s pieces are handcrafted in Morocco, and it only seems fitting that her designs also capture the spirit of distant locales. Wong’s first collection, Tong 1.0, was inspired by her Chinese heritage, while her second, Tintifawin 1.5, was inspired by a trip to
Chefchaouen, Morocco.

“Chefchaouen is often described as ‘the blue pearl of Morocco,’ and is known for the houses that residents paint in shades of blue,” says Wong. “I was particularly struck by the unexpected bright color combinations on the streets near a school where children are allowed to experiment and express themselves by painting freely.” Her most recent collection, Aurora 2.0, accompanied the launch of her new e-commerce site, and was inspired by the hues of Saharan sunrises. Metallic, mirrored leather accents Wong’s signature weaving technique across totes, wallets, and clutches, catching the light in a way that’s reminiscent of a desert sun gleaming on the horizon.

Wong’s international approach does not stop at design and production; she’s also joined up with Project Soar to ensure that her influence extends far past the fashion industry. A percentage of every Carolina Wong handbag purchase goes to the nonprofit, which works to empower young girls in Morocco and prepare them for the future. When Wong traveled to Morocco to work with artisans and develop her collections, she noticed the rampant gender inequality. After meeting Project Soar’s founder, Maryam Montague, Wong knew that she could help take part in an organization trying to give young girls ambition, education and opportunities that would otherwise not be afforded to them. “I chose to give back to society to help a cause that I’m passionate about,” notes Wong. “Education is at the foundation of a better world.”

In our uncertain, unjust and chaotic world, a brand devoted to sustainable methods and benevolent practices is always a breath of fresh air. Wong’s bags seem to vibrate with an energy that resonates in their vivid colors and elegant construction, and the thoughtfulness and skill behind them only adds to their allure. At the heart of Wong’s brand is the principle to create with a conscious mind. Wong does just that, and artfully so.

Text by Noelani Piters

THE FALL FASHION ISSUE

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