We recently had the opportunity to pick the brains of Brooklyn based designer and illustrator Sophia Chang. Through the interview we got to hear about the thought process of her ‘Brooklynite’ collaboration with PUMA which is set to release at The Chimp Store later this week.
Was it easy or hard to design a shoe? Was it something different to think beyond a flat surface?
I have had previous experiences working in a non-flat 3D format so it wasn’t a difficult task. I had a lot of fun in PUMA’s materials library to see which materials would be best for the shoe. It was such an honor being able to design my OWN shoe with a huge sportswear brand such as PUMA.
What sort of achievement does it mean to have your own capsule with PUMA?
It’s a huge achievement in my career. I was 24 when this project started. This collection definitely marks a huge milestone in my career and also encourages me to strive bigger and better. It was a wonderful learning experience from beginning to end. I look forward to working on another opportunity on this scale again.
How do you feel the world of streetwear and sneakers has changed to accommodate women in recent years?
I think this change really happened with the power of the internet. When the internet started to have forums, blogs, online gathering places where people with specific interests were able to meet other like-minded people, ideas were shared and creativity was there. With the influence of the internet today, fashion styles are seen globally. There is no such thing as west coast style, or east coast style in America. In the same way, specific women who chose to dress in the streetwear style were exposed to the art/graffiti world, and sneaker world. This small subculture blew up into a huge global movement. Although it is still mainly male-dominated, women find it easier to shop for styles and look for fashion inspiration online today.
What sort of design inspirations factored into your designs and how did you pick the models?
The models were set models that PUMA wanted me to work with so I didn’t have much to choose from. The design inspirations were focused around catering to the market. Some classic shoes worn in NY include Air Force Ones, Adidas Superstar, PUMA Clydes. These are shoes worn across all age-groups. As a native New Yorker, I wanted to offer a bit of New York to the global PUMA market. We used the borough of Brooklyn to help relate to people today. Brooklyn is a booming city, everyone in the world has their eyes on it. And we bring in the fashion of Brooklyn, giving you a bit of street and luxury, and sport. The materials we used such as synthetic suede, neoprene, 3m-reflective material and touches of gold foil really bring in the elements of street, style and sport.
You have been involved with many streetwear brands and projects, was this always an industry you thought you’d be working in?
I don’t think anyone really ever knows what they’d be working in. As a young child I always wanted to be a fashion designer. I wanted to a Haute Couture designer for Christian Dior. This was a 9-year olds dream. In high school I loved the streetwear scene and was definitely an advocate of the brands involved ie. Baby Phat, Ecko Red, Sean John. However once I went to school for college at Parsons I realized I hated the Fashion industry and some of the personalities involved. I realized my true passion was drawing, and so I switched my major to pursue illustration. Through this change I was able to really grow my understanding of the commercial world of illustration. I took my talents to my niche interests in the streetwear world, and thats how all the dots connect.
Portrait photography by Ja Tecson.