T he Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has a proud and illustrious history dating back to 1937. It prides itself on offering a wide range of quality programmes in various fields including Business, Engineering, Humanities and Design. Delivered by a forward-thinking faculty, PolyU’s programmes aim at developing industry leaders of tomorrow – individuals who are critical thinkers, effective communicators, and innovative problem solvers.
For 20-year-old Sum Xin Yi, fashion aficionado and budding designer, she chose PolyU as an ideal environment to pursue her fashion designer dreams. As a recipient of the PolyU Entry Scholarship, Xin Yi tells us about her rich experiences at the university, and how she is being prepared to push boundaries in the world of fashion.
WHY did you choose to pursue your degree at polyu?
Sum Xin Yi: While most fashion students will look toward the US or Europe for their tertiary education, I had set my eyes on a slightly different track and wanted to gain a more unique perspective by pursuing my education in Asia. HK PolyU appeared as one of the top results as I was gathering information on top fashion colleges in Asia. A more in-depth look at its website and multiple college forums only served to bolster its already excellent reputation for me.
Not only did the university have an internationally acclaimed fashion school, it was located in Hong Kong, arguably a mixing pot of both East and West. This meant that it was literally brimming with creative inspiration and opportunities, an immensely attractive prospect for someone hoping to have a career in fashion.
Jayne Chan Hui Zhen
OCBC Public Undergraduate Scholar
What sparked your interest in the fashion industry?
Xin Yi: This might sound trite, but I’ve always loved clothing and fashion. But in such a pragmatic and conservative society like Singapore, I had never dared to think that this passion could become a legitimate career. I was surrounded by peers who aspired to become doctors, lawyers, and bankers, beside whom my interest in fashion appeared neither practical nor desirable.
What are some of the benefits of the PolyU Entry Scholarship?
Xin Yi: It provides me with full subsidies of my school fees. This is of great help to me and my family, especially since the fees for international students are not cheap. The scholarship also allows me to have more funds for other areas, like general living expenses, materials for school projects, additional extracurricular classes, and even short overseas study or exposure trips.
Tell us more about your internship programme with PolyU.
Xin Yi: I am currently a communications and marketing intern at Redress, a Hong Kong-based non-governmental organisation that promotes environmental sustainability in the fashion industry by targeting textile waste, pollution, and water and energy consumption. One of the key projects I will be involved in is the fifth edition of their prestigious EcoChic Design Award, an annual international fashion design competition which challenges emerging designers to create designs with sustainability in mind.
Although I’ve only just started on this internship, I have already learned plenty. I have seen first-hand the powerful role that fashion can play in making the world a better place, and I have also picked up valuable communication, time management, and collaborative skills!
What other opportunities do you enjoy at the university?
Xin Yi: As a Trainee Ambassador under the International Student Ambassador Scheme (ISAS), I’ve organised and participated in many cultural activities and tours in Hong Kong where international and local students come together for vibrant cultural exchanges. One instance is the International Festival, which sees students of different nationalities set up booths to showcase their unique cultures. You get to see booths hosting mini calligraphy workshops beside booths with German sausage samplers. Now that’s something you don’t see every day!
What are some of your future plans?
Xin Yi: My goal now is still to become a fashion designer. But as I have gained more exposure to the sheer breadth of the fashion industry, I have also become more open to the wide array of career paths in the fashion industry itself. Fashion is such a multi-faceted industry, comprising business, technology and research, and of course design, and there are simply so many paths to choose from.
But regardless of the path I pursue in the future, I hope to be able to bring out positive change in the fashion industry. Far from being some sort of creative utopia, fashion has its own share of issues like environmental sustainability, race politics, and alienating ideals of beauty. I wish to work to rectify the insidious effects of some of the issues that plague the industry. Eventually, I might even decide to return to Singapore to contribute to her nascent fashion industry. I’d love to work with Singapore’s Textile and Fashion Federation to support local designers and fashion businesses and help them carve out an international name for the Singaporean fashion collective!