Scoffing down Vanessa’s Dumplings in lush, designer coats doesn’t sound like a glamorous spectacle, but babes Gia Seo and Sandy Liang worked it out. The creative pals exude rawness and talent, while being simultaneously chill-as-hell—a rare combination in a city as convoluted as New York. Promoting depth and honesty in an industry full of fakers, the gals hung out with us at Sandy’s heavenly downtown studio and we talked Wholefoods, dream collabs and how New York is not the most inspiring setting in the world for an artist.

Ava Nirui: How did you guys meet and what drew you to each other?

Sandy Liang: I met Gia at a shoot for Banana Magazine and I had seen photos of you on Instagram before we met. Gia is just the sweetest person ever. There’s one specific story that comes to mind about Gia. One time she came over and told me about how some girl said nasty things about me and how she told the girl to step off. And I was like, “fuck, you don’t know me that well, but you know me well enough to know that wasn’t true and you spoke up for me!” That was so sweet and it stuck with me. This industry is so small and you really have to be able to trust whoever you work with. There are certain people I hold super dear and know I can trust, and there are some you just can’t. Gia is one of the people who has my back.

“It’s hard to respect people who are our age.”—Gia 

Gia Seo: That is very sweet! I probably shouldn’t tell you about the time I was talking shit about you... just kidding. I had known about Sandy’s brand for about a year before we met, because when I worked at Opening Ceremony they would ask me to research young and upcoming designers. I was greedy and didn’t want to show Sandy to Opening Ceremony because I feared they wouldn’t pay her enough for the quality of her clothes. As a young creative in New York, it’s hard to meet people passionate about what they are doing and I think most people’s end goal is to make money and make a name for themselves. What I love about Sandy is she’s so passionate about her brand and she’s only 23 years old. She has worked hard to get her name in all the right places and is very particular about how she brands herself and I think that’s so hard. It’s hard to respect people who are our age. You meet these young Instagram kids who are claiming to be a model or stylist, but Sandy is just a step above that and that’s really wonderful. I’m fucking 24 working a corporate job and meanwhile, you have your own brand and know your vision.

SL: Gia, I think that’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said about me.

GS: Well, I hope you know it’s true. It’s hard to break into this industry when you’re young. You’re going about it the right way.

AN: I also feel like genuine talent rarely gets recognized. A lot of new people entering this industry are only successful based on their contacts.

GS: Totally. Especially, when you grow up with a famous parent. Sandy, I don’t know if your parents are famous. The point is, you’re doing it and you are on your own. I think you’ve also chosen a great group of people to surround yourself with.

SL: I think it’s super important to figure out who you want to work with and place yourself next to. A lot of people assume things about my family, but no, I didn’t have any connections outside my previous internships. I was just emailing people and they were surprisingly supportive. It’s been amazing. I could not have done this alone and I’m very lucky. I didn’t expect this to happen — especially coming from Parsons where people are really competitive and catty.

AN: How do you think living in New York has inspired you to be creative?

GS: For me, I don’t think New York is that inspiring. New York is incredibly saturated and convoluted. I meet a lot of people who try and present themselves as progressive and yet I find that as soon as I get to know them, I realize they’re just following trends. New York as a city isn’t inspiring. What’s more inspiring is actually meeting kids our age, like Sandy, who are doing something to change the industry.

SL: I find the energy inspiring. But, on the other hand, you feel like you can never turn off and it gets super exhausting. It’s so special when you meet the right people in New York. But, I agree with Gia—New York is repetitive in a weird way.

GS: Totally, the idea of trending is crazy. Why do we have to feed into a trend? Why can’t we create multiple ideas? I’m sick of seeing the same shit come out of people’s mouths, basically.

AN: Aside from the negative aspects... What are your favorite things to do in the city?

SL: It’s about the little things.

GS: Like, when the heat’s off on the Subway and you’re able to wear layers and not sweat. Or if I get out of work early and it's still bright outside. It’s the small luxuries that take me away from the exhaustion of New York.

SL: Whenever I feel I need a breather, I will go to my favorite bookstore and flip through books and magazines and have a coffee. Back to little luxuries, I love going to Wholefoods on Sundays and blasting music and getting groceries. I also love apples so much.

GS: Last time I was here, Sandy was talking about apples for ten minutes straight.

SL: I love Pink Lady apples. They’re so delicious. I love nourishing my body at Wholefoods.

GS: It’s definitely the little things like waking up and getting a text from you, Ava—knowing that people care about you even though you don’t see you all the time.

“Dream project? move to Fiji and meet a group of 80 and 90-year-old women and Sandy and I would dress them.”—Gia

AN: If you guys could collaborate on one dream project, what would it be?

GS: We would move to Fiji and meet a group of 80 and 90-year-old women who are living in an old folks home and Sandy and I would dress them. My dream shoot would be for us to go to a retirement home and take the most beautiful clothing and just for one day be able to make people feel so beautiful. Wait, for our dream collaboration, would we have a budget?

AN: Absolutely not.

GS: That’s crazy. I would want to go to space and travel the galaxy with you.

SL: Yes! We would bring in Elon Musk.

GS: Actually Ava, we wouldn’t tell you cause someone might steal our idea.

SL: Gia, I’m going to Google Invite you to a special meeting to discuss later...

All clothes by Sandy Liang
Photographer and Writer Ava Nirui
Styling Sandy Liang and Gia Seo