Sartorial conscience

Sartorial conscience

Hong Kong's students are dedicating themselves to the city's first love to help those less fortunate


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Photo: Island School
Money and food are undoubtedly two parts of the holy trinity of "things Hongkongers love". The third is arguably fashion.

But this devotion is not just about who's wearing whom. Hong Kong students are taking advantage of their sartorial bent for the greater good, staging fashion shows for charity.

On April 4, Island School will host Vivacity for the second year, a fashion show started by current Year 13 student Bonita Leung as the main fundraiser for the school's long-time beneficiaries Trunk Aid ( Year 12 students Rishika Uttamchandani and Samantha Linning were selected to jointly organise this year's event.

The girls faced a mountain of work: they e-mailed around 25 companies to ask for clothes, and auditioned scores of wannabe catwalk stompers.

"We sat down to discuss which of the 160 fabulous models we would choose," says Samantha "It took almost three hours to finally narrow it down!"

The pressure increased with a request that the event help more people.

"When the Christchurch earthquake occurred, our principal asked us if we would donate a small amount of the money raised," says Rishika.

"An ex-Island School teacher, Ms Wylie, now works at Shirley Boys High School, a school that was damaged in the Christchurch earthquake," Samantha adds. "The entire school jumped at the chance to help one of our own." With the added tragedy of the Japan earthquake, a decision was made to send funds there, too. An exclusive T-shirt was designed by fellow Island Schooler Hannah Chan, and will be sold and modelled at Vivacity, with funds going to both quake-hit zones.

Tickets are available from Island School.

Last weekend saw HKIS' fashion show, an event which has taken place regularly since 1999. Co-executive producer Samuel Kim says the response to the show was "overwhelming".

The organising committee had a massive task ahead of them. "The show is put together almost exclusively by the student body - only one member of the teaching staff is involved, Zella Talbot," says Samuel. On top of setting up the show - selecting brands, auditioning models, and working with the 37 student designers - the committee had to decide where the money was going.

"We had six clubs from within the school that expressed interest in needing money for their programmes ... What was attractive about SolarLeap [] was that [founder] Charles Watson was an alumnus with an innovative organisation."

The charity takes solar-powered computers to "off-grid" schools. In the last two years, schools in Nepal, Ghana, the Philippines, India and Ethiopia have benefited - his record set-up time, from arriving at a school to getting the computer running, is 37 minutes.

The show raised more than HK$400,000, which will be matched by an outside sponsor.

South Island School's fourth Innovation show was also held recently, raising HK$100,000 - not counting what they'll raise from DVD sales - for the Bright Angels Foundation (, which helps blind people on the mainland be self-sufficient.

Head organiser Bibian Li and head of PR Madeleine Chu chose it after volunteering at at the organisation's charity ball. The show's "futuristic" theme sat well with the charity's forward-looking goals.

Australian International School has been holding fashion shows since students decided to raise funds for the Sichuan earthquake in 2008. Nicolee Tsin and Amy Lau took over the reins last October with Seams of a New Era. "Organising the event was very challenging," says Amy - but their efforts paid off, with more than HK$25,000 raised for Christina Nobel Children's Foundation (

KGV got in on the action last month, with their first fashion show, Panache, raising funds for Mercy International in Thailand, the Cambodian Children's Trust, and Operation Blessing in China.

These incredible efforts by the city's fashion-loving students are proof that with passion, you can achieve greatness.



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