IDYSM: Set the scene for us, where are you right now?
Sophia: I’ve been born and raised in Queens. It’s home to me. My specific neighborhood is called Woodside and it has a rich Irish, Filipino, Thai, Tibetan, Indian and Spanish community. Talk about melting pot.
IDYSM: What defines your style?
Sophia: A lot of my style is inspired by my roots in NYC, we mentioned hip-hop being a huge influence in my life. So your typical streetwear brands, fitness/sportswear apparel and occasionally I mix in high-fashion pieces as well. I believe that how you dress, shows how you want to be approached and addressed by people. (Especially for females!)
IDYSM: You’re from NYC, how much an influence does the city play in your work?
Sophia: I’m very fortunate to be in a city that’s the best city in the world. The center of creativity, New York, New York. Whether I am riding the subway or surfing the web, the objects that I am drawn to consciously and sometimes subconsciously influence my mood and interests.
IDYSM: On a day to day basis what inspires you?
Sophia: A lot of my ideas and inspiration just comes from living. I have great friends who inspire me, I love digging for inspiration on the internet. And again, being in a creative hub like New York – there is inspiration all around you. Anything can spark an idea if your mind is in the right place.
IDYSM: You’re involved with a lot of projects – do you find the creative process and ideas come easily to you, or is it something you work hard for with hours of research and prep?
Sophia: Everyone hits funny loops in their life where they cant find inspiration. Usually it’s hard for me to be creative when I have a lot going on in my personal life! But I keep myself on my feet, eyes open in the big city. I have pretty good visual memory so I like to take a lot of screenshots to remember things I see and hear about. I’m one of those creative who like to research a tad and jump right into action. Some people really spend time researching and prepping – really no wrong or right route for approach.
IDYSM: There is no denying that street culture and sneaker style is hugely influential in NYC, how much of a part has it played in your life?
Sophia: The cultural influences I had were hiphop/rap music, the fashion styles I was inspired by was grounded in hiphop culture. Growing up in Flushing my friends and I were very much into street wear. I used to wear all the streetwear brands such as Ecko Red, Baby Phat, Enyce, etc. And as that generation grew up, we started weather other brands such as Staple, The Hundreds, A NY Thing, and so forth.
IDYSM: How did your collab with Puma come about?
Sophia: Its a funny story really. I was traveling on vacation and met a friend who happened to work there. A year after the trip I received a call about this idea and totally went for it!
IDYSM: I have to say that your collab is fresh, inviting and really interesting, and it doesn’t feel like the first time you’ve done something like this. How did you approach this project?
Sophia: I wanted to offer something for everyone. There is a men’s line and a women’s line, but I wanted to design a collection I’d want to wear. I wear men’s clothing; men’s tshirts, hoodies, gestures whatever. So the men’s and women’s lines are similar if you look at them.
IDYSM: And how did you make the collection truly reflect both you, and NYC?
Sophia: As a native New Yorker I have a certain perception of New York. But I have to keep in mind that I am designing for a global brand. That means I have to also design for people who have never been to NY. It was really fun as I take a lot of pride in my hometown. As an illustrator, I communicate through visuals so this was a fun platform where I got to tell the world about my hometown. Through jokes, references, rap lyrics and iconic references.
IDYSM: Who did you have in mind when you designed the collection?
Sophia: In terms of my fashion influences, just because I grew up in NYC, streetwear has always been a huge influence in who I am. The women’s pieces are more fitted but the pattern is very unisex, very interchangeable. A Black and White shoe is always a classic in New York. I wanted to pick some trendy colors as well so I brought in various tones of blue and a hit of pink. The combination of colors and materials used for each shoe varied to offer a different taste for every consumer. Your uncle/aunt who is still into sneakers, your hypebeast, the girl who loves to look cute, and the trend setters.
IDYSM: What does the future hold for you?
Sophia: I’m not worried. I have faith that God will lead me where I need to be. So I a lot Is in store. #Blessed. Stay tuned for new projects, updates and announcement via Instagram and Twitter: @esymai
IDYSM: It’s time for the signature question that ends all ‘In Their Shoes’ interviews; what’s on your feet right now?
Sophia: Of course my kicks! I rotate between the colored low top baskets. White, Black, and Pink gradient.
A huge thanks for Puma for setting this interview up.