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A 1990s kid born and raised in New York City, Sandy Liang welcomes us into her childhood memories through her clothes. Chinatown grandmas being her number one inspiration, she creates accordingly to what’s familiar to her. From the signature fleeces she used to hate wearing as a kid to her dreamy dresses, Liang is taking New York fashion scene by storm.

Over the years, she has become a well-recognised designer yet she stays grounded and surrounds herself with what’s familiar. To this day, she works with a small team in a renovated studio space that used to be a storage room for her father’s restaurant. “I’m not sure what it looks like from the outside, but I can say that I lead a very normal and simple life”. Her cute grandma often appears in Liang’s campaigns and it’s clear that she is a big part of her inspiration. “Since my grandma is the one who raised me and still calls me everyday and wants to take care of me, she is my number one! Of course, I love all my family, but I do have to say I have a sweet spot for her. It’s a happy coincidence that Chinatown grandmas are also a number one inspiration point for me”.

In the past, Liang said she felt pressure to pursue a ‘more practical’ path and briefly attended Rhode Island School of Design for architecture before transferring to Parsons to study fashion design. “Fashion was always my dream career, but not the one I envisioned having”. How did she get the courage to switch paths from such different fields? “I think being out of my comfort zone is ultimately what drove me to pursue what I truly wanted to do, versus what was safe to do.”

When ask what truly inspired her, she responds: “I think about what makes me happiest – it is my childhood and the magic and questions that came with it. I reference nostalgia a lot in my work, and it’s because I think child-like happiness is the purest and truest thing, and designing is almost my way of getting to that place again, even if just for a fleeting moment.”

A few weeks ago, Sandy Liang debuted her Resort 2020 collection. She shot the campaign on her childhood block in Bayside Queens going hand-in-hand with the collection’s inspiration; Chinatown grandmas in suburbia post-dance class. With references like Polly Pocket and The Virgin Suicides, it’s clear nostalgia plays a big role in her creative process. “References from my childhood are important to me as a designer for sure. In addition to that, everything I create is so personal that it’s imposible to not reference my past, that means referencing my life – regardless of whether it’s my childhood, neighbourhood, people I’ve met, movies I’ve loved, etc. It’s necessary that everything we produce means something or draws a reference from the DNA that we have created.” As a conclusion, Liang says her biggest achievement is yet to come. “ I’m excited to grow and realize my visión through categories other than just apparel.” What will the future bring next? Just keep an eye on her!

Words
Zoe Sinclair
Photos
Kathy Lo

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