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Interview: Cheryl Leung of Sau

Christy Au-Yeung meets the Hong Kong-based designer to talk about a modern woman’s wardrobe

Love it or hate it, today’s apparel market is overflowing with fast fashion brands. We’ve come to expect shortlived fashion while prioritising quantity over quality. And, let’s be honest, fast fashion may be cheap but it never lasts. That’s where affordable luxury clothing brand Sau comes in. The brand delivers affordable-yet-timeless pieces for women and counters our culture of instant gratification.

Interested in fashion design from a young age, Cheryl Leung never thought establishing her own fashion brand was realistic. After graduating from UCLA in 2011, she worked at Lane Crawford and it was while working there that she decided to realise her dream and launched her brand, Sau. “At Lane Crawford I learned a lot of brand stories and realised many start from modest beginnings with a small collection and sold to their family and friends, or by word of mouth,” she recalls.

Leung found a niche focusing on high quality clothing for the modern woman at a reasonable price point. “Affordable luxury is for those who are moving away from buying quantity, to buying quality pieces for their wardrobe that last a lifetime,” she explains. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Leung prides herself on her Chinese heritage. One of her aims is to make Sau into a Hong Kong label that’s recognised internationally. She tells us: “I want to find that balance where I can bring some of my culture and heritage into the design but still have it relatable to the international market.” Indeed, her designs successfully incorporate elements of Chinese culture with modern Western fashion.

For Leung, fashion is not about beautiful people wearing beautiful clothes. It’s more about building selfconfidence. Indeed, the brand name ‘sau’ (秀) is taken from her Chinese middle name, which means beautiful. “I fit all the clothes on myself. I’m an average sized person. If it fits well on me, then it will look good on the majority of people. That empowers women and makes them feel sexy,” she says proudly.

Starting a brand isn’t easy. Leung faces challenges like reaching fabric minimums and bidding on long term contracts at PMQ. Although running her own company is hard, she says it’s rewarding. “Work is 24/7, seven days a week with no rest,” Leung says. “It consumes your life but in the best way possible. It’s something you get to build on your own and be excited about. You feel a sense of accomplishment.”

Sau x Milma Shop H310, 3/F, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen St, Central; sauclothing.com.

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