I Am Her: Adele Leong On Decades-Long Career In Luxury

Lessons from an industry veteran

Our “I Am Her” series features the female movers and shakers of the industry to learn how femininity and power coincide beautifully and seamlessly together.

How does one build a thriving career? For Adele Leong, the newly-minted Managing Director of Southeast Asia's OnTheList, a members-only luxury brand online flash sale platform, it all boils down to sustaining a passion for your chosen craft. It's the very foundation of her decades-long service in the retail industry's luxury sector. Adele has always been drawn to fashion and beauty from a young age and shared fond memories of saving her allowance to purchase copies of local magazines filled with glamourous spreads and editorials.

Adele Leong Managing Director Of OnTheList

Adele Leong, Managing Director of Southeast Asia's OnTheList

Fast forward to today, Adele is now a respected industry veteran with over 20 years of experience under her belt, having handled several international prestige brands including Chanel, Valentino and Fendi. After working so long in this industry, Adele said she is still "loving every minute of it". Dedicated, driven and passionate — now that's something we are all inspired by. Read on as Adele talked to us about what it's like to work in the glamourous, elite world of luxury and the industry's future in terms of sustainability.

Fill in the blanks: I’m a managing director, ___________ and ___________. 

I’m a managing director, mum of three and one who enjoys cooking and baking. My current obsession is baking sourdough bread. During my free time, I research online extensively to get tips so that the next bake can be better. 

What’s something that you do that people outside the luxury industry would find surprising?

It is a common misconception that it is all about dressing up and attending glamourous events for those working in the luxury retail industry. That’s actually only a very small part of our job, and it is common to work long hours (especially during intense budget planning periods) rushing, hustling and behind the scenes hard work to strive to deliver exceptional service experience to our clients.

What motivated you to join OnTheList? 

OnTheList promotes sustainability and helps minimise the environmental impact of the retail industry which is something I have always felt deeply about. Be it excess fabric or overproduction caused by seasonal inventory and miscalculated demand predictions, fashion waste piles up in landfills every year or is incinerated, contributing to waste pollution.

These products, in reality, are still in such good condition. Thus, instead of destroying excess merchandise, there is a solution to handle unsold inventory and reduce the industry’s impact on the environment. OnTheList fills this gap in the market by providing brands with an environmentally and financially sustainable option to clear past-season inventory without compromising brand value through a unique and innovative Members-Only Weekly Flash Sales concept.

What was it like to switch jobs while a pandemic is ongoing?

During times of transition, change generally sets me on a path of getting to know myself better, playing to my strengths and aligning my purpose with my career. While there are risks involved and doing so during a pandemic might not be ideal to some, I’ve always believed in acting on the fact that one will always be coming up against challenges but life is filled with endless opportunities and we should tap on them to seek out the corners of who we are. Like I mentioned above, the business nature of OnTheList deeply resonated with me and I know making this decision not only allows me to follow the passion of mine in the retail industry but also be purposeful in what I do: making a positive impact on the environment.

Sustainability is a big issue in fashion right now, can you expound more about how OnTheList contribute to this movement?

We help brands offload excess, past-season merchandise in a sustainable way that would otherwise sit in warehouses, get burned or end up in landfills, by acting as the middleman between them and members looking for affordable luxury products. By prolonging the shelf life of products and creating a sales avenue for a new pool of potential customers, OnTheList helps to alleviate the fashion waste predicament and reduce the industry’s carbon footprint. We work very closely with our brand partners and official distributors, fully respecting each brand’s image and guidelines in the process.

What does sustainability mean for you? Personally, how do you support this movement?

Sustainability should be a way of life and it will be wonderful for everyone to exercise mindfulness especially when it comes to our consumption habits to reduce waste, reuse and recycle whenever possible. In my household, we reduce the usage of packaging by bringing our own flasks for coffee runs, bring our own containers when packing meals and using our own bags when we shop.

What are your Clozette essentials? 

Adele Leong Managing Director Of OnTheList

Adele's casual beauty look.

My water bottle follows me wherever I go as it is important to always stay hydrated; my mobile phone and hands-free set so that I can take calls while on the go and my most essential and favourite makeup item is the Lip Glowy Balm by Laneige.

(Cover photo from: Adele Leong)

Inspired? Check out stories of other exceptional women here.

Comments, questions or feedback? Email us at [email protected].

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