Sandy Liang Designs For City Dwelling

Sandy Liang Designs For City Dwelling

At only 26 years old, the New York-bred designer is quickly making a name for herself with her signature take on outerwear.

At only 26 years old, the New York-bred designer is quickly making a name for herself with her signature take on outerwear.

Text: Danielle Combs

At only 26-years-old, Bayside Queens native and designer Sandy Liang is best known for her striking outerwear silhouettes putting the rising designer on the fashion map. Known for her cool-girl meets grandma aesthetic, Liang’s approach to designing is deeply personal as she draws inspiration from the nostalgic moments she’s experienced as a child on the Lower East Side. Fusing her line with menswear elements, quirky details, and frothy pastels, Liang’s authentic approach to design is apparent throughout her current, vivacious line.

In an exclusive interview with V, Sandy Liang sits down to discuss her affinity for design, how fashion shouldn’t be taken too seriously, and why the industry shouldn’t default towards negativity.

When did your love for fashion begin?

I’ve loved fashion since I was a tiny person. I’ve always wanted to be a fashion designer, and it was one of those dream jobs where you go to school and your teachers are like, ‘What do you guys want to be when you grow up?’ and that was my thing. I also wanted to be a piano teacher at some point, which is my realistic dream I guess.

You originally decided to study architecture. What was it like leaving that behind to study at Parsons, and what did you learn while you were there?

Right after high school, I decided I was going to do the five-year architecture program, and I even remember while applying to colleges I was like, ‘I’m not going to stay in the city. I’m going anywhere but here.’ So I went there, I was super happy about it and then, as soon as I got there, I was like, ‘I just can’t imagine myself here for five years pursuing architecture, which is also just not my thing and more what I thought I should do because I’m bad at math. I like to draw and my dad really wants me to be an architect.’ That’s what I went for.

So I guess being there and just being away from the city made me really miss the city but also made me realize that I had to give my dream a shot.

What inspired you to start eponymous line?

I was just batshit crazy after graduating, and I was so happy and thinking it’s going to be great, how could people not want to buy my clothes? Production? That’s easy! It all just made sense in my head, and I just had no idea how hard it was going to be.

How would you describe your signature aesthetic? It seems like there’s a lot of inspiration taken from menswear and skater boy culture. How does all of that tie in?

First of all, I feel like clothes should be a little bit silly and not so serious, which I really need because I feel like people take themselves so seriously in this industry and there’s always some huge thing happening. I just like to be quiet, tucked away in my studio. Doing my own thing and making things that I like that are beautiful. I am very much a local. I live here and I love this area and the people that inhabit it.

What are some elements that have inspired your individual approach to design?

I think it’s more the attitude. I’m obsessed with juxtapositions and pairs of things, and I love when something feels both old and new at the same time. I remember when I first started coming to the Lower East Side because my dad had his restaurant here, and my grandparents lived on Rivington. It was very different from what it is today, and I think because I’ve been able to grow up with that transformation of the neighborhood, it’s very special to me because I get to say, ‘This store used to be that, now this store is that.’ The area is definitely changing very rapidly, but that’s what I love about it is that there is this mix of old and new. 

In what ways does menswear play a role in your line?

I love menswear because it’s never that trendy—on a whole. I’m not talking about specific collections. I hate just being so trendy and cool. But I like menswear because there’s some of continuity—some sort of uniformness to it. I like how it doesn’t need to be so loud.

What is your process like when you’re creating a new collection?

The first stage is me freaking out, thinking I don’t have enough time and that everything is due already. The second part is me realizing I have a lot of time and shouldn't freak out and then I just design. You see those white boards there with all those sketches on them? That’s one design. And it just goes from there. I don’t really work with a plan, like, ‘I need to make four tops, 10 skirts, whatever.’ I just kind of start with the outerwear because that’s what I love.

And build around it.

Yeahs. Also if I make the skirts with one detail, I’m like, ‘Wait, I love that detail. Let’s put that detail on this.’ And then things will hit me. I think about things at really random times, and I get my best ideas when I’m about to sleep or in the shower or just walking.

What type of improvements could be made within the fashion industry?

There are so many things. When I entered this business, I didn’t realize that I’d only be making money twice a year because that’s when you get to make money and show your collection. I don’t know. I just think it’s really hard for everybody in that sense. I think overall there just needs to be less hate.

Who would you say the Sandy Liang girl is?

I think it’s anyone who gets the clothes. I think it’s someone who just has some silliness to them; who isn’t afraid to have something fun on. She kind of loves fashion but isn’t obsessed about it. I just want my clothes to make people happy. To make me smile.

Credits: Images courtesy of Sandy Liang.

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