sandy liang’s spring/summer 16 skate queens
Inspired by the Supreme-loving boys of the Lower East Side, the buzzy NYC-based designer presented leathers, frayed denim and one crazy adorable pink custom deck.
On any given day on Allen Street in downtown New York, the sound of plastic rolling along tarmac can be heard even above the honking traffic of Delancey Street. It's the sound of skaters and the definitive soundtrack of the Lower East Side, where designer Sandy Liang lives. Her collections (there have been four so far) are always inspired by her surroundings and for spring/summer 16 she turned her attention to the scruffy Supreme kids who glide past her apartment. "They scare the shit out of my dog," she joked at her presentation this weekend.
Not that there was a deliberate break with her girl of seasons past. "The fact that stuff changes every season frustrates me," she said. "I certainly don't change my entire closet just because it's a new season." What attracted her to skaters was that they've looked the same since the early 90s, at least in New York. She'd come across the photo book Stoopz by Ari Marcopoulos, his iconic document of the baggy T-shirted boys who tore up lower Manhattan during the early years of the city's skate scene. "They're wearing the same clothes they wear today," Sandy realised. "They're truly effortless, and I think there's a beauty in that."
On Saturday, that translated into a collection of truly time-proof pieces. There will probably never be a time when a leather jacket will not be cool - and when that jacket is embroidered with clusters of tiny forget-me-nots and pansies, even better. Similarly, cropped blue jeans with a frayed edge? Always a good idea. The most literal skater boy references came in the form of a pair of slightly baggy straight-cut pants - the wide leg and black-and-white check brought to mind Dickies but the crop was still girly - and a fanny pack slung across one model's chest. One jacket even had a messenger bag stitched onto the back. "I love that they just throw them on and they're ready to go," said Sandy about skater boys' bags of choice.
Also in the mix were simple loose dresses (prime for wearing over jeans). One was a powdery pastel blue column with a leg-flashing slit, another came in baby pink satin with a ruffled hem. It matched the rose-colored skate deck propped up at the front of the show space, printed with "SANDY LIANG" in black all-caps. It was just one of the details that made the collection feel special and real. The range of materials - from denim to silk to the cotton of a slouchy-sleeved button-down - made the girls look like a pack of real friends hanging out. Which was Sandy's intention. "My assistant actually had to stop me from buying and using so many materials," she laughed. "For me, the collection has to look like an actual girl's closet. That's not about using one material in different ways, it's about lots of different materials."
You could recognise real girls in the styling too. The silver hoop earrings (a collaboration with fellow NYC brand Sorelle), black chokers and white sneakers the models wore made them look like the crowd at your favourite Chinatown bar on a Friday night.
Text Alice Newell-Hanson