A fashion business icon in the making

The business of fashion is difficult enough but Dato Leong Sir Ley, Founder and Chairman of Sheng Tai International is determined to ensure that the Malaysian fashion industry makes a mark in the world stage, starting with Melaka as the fashion hub of Southeast Asia, in collaboration with FashionTV Paris, France.

Resplendent in a golden gown with a distinctive designer cut, Dato Leong Sir Ley is a paragon of elegance in a recent property awards ceremony in Kuala Lumpur. One of the awards she picked up on behalf of Sheng Tai International was the Most Visionary Property Developer trophy.

But being celebrated as a visionary developer is almost an understatement – Dato Leong as its founder and chairman is much more than that. Apart from successfully pioneering property tourism, which combines a tourism experience with opportunities to buy property, she’s also steered the company into pandemic-related projects, beginning with designing and building the RM1.5 billion Jasin Glove Hub from 2H 2021. This is on top of conceptualising a futuristic building that symbolizes Melaka’s historic and future significance – which is how the iconic RM6.5 bil The Sail came about.

But the one project that truly sets her apart from other developers is how she is changing the landscape in the fickle fashion world. Inspired by how Milan has for decades attracted the top talents in fashion designing and modeling, Leong has come up with a plan to put Melaka in the world map for the same reasons – but with a distinctly Southeast Asian flavour.

In essence, the plan is to attract all the top talents in Southeast Asia to Melaka which will be branded as a fashion hub. A tall order indeed and the idea understandably has its own share of detractors. But Leong remains unfazed – as always, she is meticulous, disciplined and perseverant in working towards her goal. This is on top of having the uncanny ability to inspire her team to do their best to achieve this seemingly impossible task as well as bringing partners together from around the world to share her vision.

Melaka is the perfect Asian complement to Milan, as a twin city in the East which exudes the same historical and cultural vibe that has inspired generations of fashion houses.

“We see Melaka as having many similarities with Milan, which has a historic building surrounded by international fashion houses in the historic core. In Melaka, we have the A’Famosa and the Stadthuys, among others, in the historic core, while the fashion houses can be built around them,” she enthuses.

To kickstart her dream, she’s decided to partner with FashionTV Paris, France, as the platform with which to drive the fashion hub in Melaka. Fashion TV Paris, France, is a fashion and lifestyle broadcasting television channel with a global audience.

Just like back in the old days 500 years ago, when European and Asian traders exchanged goods and imprinted their cultures in Melaka, this intermingling of Western and Eastern influences will create a cosmopolitan vibe that will further attract people to set up roots there.

Notably, the franchise deal entails the exchange of fashion designers and models between Europe and Southeast Asia – this exchange of creative talents will spur a flood of new ideas in the fashion world and put Melaka firmly on the fashion world map.

“We will rock the fashion world by starting many endeavours for the first time such as exchanging models between Malaysia and Europe; and setting up a FashionTV Academy to train models and other talents, in addition to showcasing the creations of local fashion designers,” Leong states.

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