New York Designer Sandy Liang Is All About Laidback Luxe
Sandy Liang founded her label in 2014, shortly after graduating from Parsons The New School for Design. While many of her peers opted to intern for big fashion houses, Liang carved her own path in the industry with her unique, downtown-cool ethos.
To date, Liang’s label has been snapped up by reputable retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Hong Kong’s Lane Crawford. We speak with the designer about her collection, copycats, canines and her Chinese roots.
Can you describe your design aesthetic in three words?
Funny, furry, grandma.
What’s your favourite piece from your FW18 collection?
I love, love, love the Patch Coat! I love coats that you can throw on that easily change your entire outfit. I love wearing comfortable shoes, jeans, a t-shirt, and an oversized multicolour fuzzy coat.
Your collections are very personal—how do you translate things that are so close to your heart into your designs?
All of my collections are extremely personal to me; I could never find inspiration from a place, person or theme without some sort of personal connection to it. The things that I continue to go back to for inspiration are always just my neighbourhood (Lower East Side in NYC), my family, my friends, my childhood, and my dog, Tim Tam, who I put on a sweater for FW18.
Your Chinese roots also come into play in your collections. Do you have roots in Hong Kong?
My family has a house in Guangzhou, which is not far, but I spent most summers of my childhood either in my mom’s hometown in China or in Hong Kong. I love Hong Kong—it is the only place I would ever consider moving to. I love the smell as soon as I land at the airport, I love the fruits and the colours and hearing everyone speaking Cantonese.
You’ve famously called out American retailer Forever 21 for copying a look from your FW15 and FW16 collections. What’s your take on brands copying and referencing others?
It’s extremely frustrating that there are no laws in place to protect designers from blatant copying, especially when designs are taken from a small brand for a mass market company with stores around the world. The only tool that smaller brands have to protect themselves is social media, which they can use to call attention to these issues.
I designed a denim skort for my SS16 collection, which is still being copied and referenced by several different mass market brands/stores.
It’s upsetting to say the least, but at the end of the day, you just have to focus on yourself and not on the negativity.
Lastly, what’s a piece of advice you were given when you started your brand that you remember to this day?
I didn’t receive this piece of advice until recently, but basically, it was to do what’s right for you and your brand and not what the industry is telling you to do. There is no right way to do things, just the right way for your brand.
Find out more at sandyliang.info