Runway Radar: Sammi Wong's gender-neutral static/quo draws from punchy throwback fashions

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      By Crystal Scheffler

      Kids think out-of-the-box and soon, their clothes will be, too, thanks to student designer Sammi Wong.

      Wong’s graduate collection focuses on gender-neutral clothing for children between the ages of 7 and 12. The brand revolves around athletic detailing and bright pops of colour. The Retrofit line, in particular, takes inspiration from the styling and pop culture of the '80s and '90s, including TV shows like Saved by the Bell and The Wonder Years and emphasizes varsity colour blocking.

      static/quo will be unveiled at 2017 The Show presented by Tamoda Apparel Inc., on April 5 and 6 at the Imperial (319 Main Street). Twenty-seven other lines by Kwantlen Polytechnic University Fashion Design and Technology students will also be showcased.

      For event details, visit or follow @wilsondesignkpu on Instagram.

      Crystal Scheffler: Describe your collection.

      Sammi Wong: static/quo is for children of the next generation who want clothes free of labels and restrictions with a focus on athletic styling and pops of colour.

      CS: Who or what was the inspiration behind your line?

      SW: I have young cousins who would tell me that the clothes offered to them would stereotype them and put them in boxes. Kids sometimes have to buy from the opposite gender’s section to get what they want and that can make them feel like they’re not shopping correctly. This may hurt their self-esteem. static/quo doesn’t differentiate between boys’ and girls’ clothing, so kids can feel less self-conscious about who they are and how they dress.

      I also find that a lot of gender-neutral lines use monochromatic colour palettes. However, children really love colour and interesting details, so I wanted to incorporate that as well. That way, they don’t have to compromise on youthful, fun design while getting the label-free clothing they want.

      CS: Walk me through your creative process.

      SW: I originally wanted to be a writer when I was younger, so I like to start off with a “character” and think about what they need and want, what they would wear, and how they would wear it. I also give them a name, an occupation, and a home, so they feel more like a real person and not a figment of my imagination. After that character becomes a fully-fledged target market, I do some sketching before moving on to computer drawing.

      I prefer technology over hands-on work. I personally love being able to draw up something quickly and alter it in hundreds of ways without having to go over the original version. Colour and fabric usually come last for me, but it depends on where I get my design inspiration. For example, my collection takes colour inspiration from varsity uniforms of the '80s and '90s, so that was one of the earliest elements of my design.

      CS: What aspect of design are you most passionate about?

      SW: Colour and detail are usually my favourite parts of design. Even though they don't necessarily come first in my design process, adding some unique colour or interesting detail is what makes something come to life for me. It helps me see the full potential of a piece and what it can do for someone. Having that feeling makes the design all the more special—like it’s fulfilling a purpose for another person.

      CS: What have you learned at KPU?

      SW: I’ve learned a lot about both who I am as a designer and who I am as a person. I find that the program helped me break out of my shell and feel more confident about my work and how to talk about my work. It has really pushed me into working independently and collaboratively. I've also learned what it means to think creatively and take control of your own learning. I have become more conscious about what it means to be a designer and to create for other people.

      Lyla Pollard wears featured pieces from Sammi Wong’s static/quo collection, including the lace-up bomber coat from the Retrofit line.
      Angie Wu

      Crystal Scheffler is a final-year fashion design and technology student at KPU’s Wilson School of Design.

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