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The Big Business of Dressing Like a Little Girl

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The Big Business of Dressing Like a Little Girl

“I’m wearing the dresses. I’m wearing the shoes. I’m wearing the funny schoolgirl uniforms, which I’m too old to wear, but it’s not stopping me,” Ms. Sugihara said.

Ms. Liang, who grew up in Queens, is part of a tradition of female designers subverting ultrafeminine clothes. Anna Sui, who made baby-doll dresses grungy in the 1990s, said her clothes’ “girliness” — a quality she has also seen in Ms. Liang’s work — is why “so many women have identified with what I do.”

Michelle Zauner, the writer and musician who performs as Japanese Breakfast, was introduced by her stylist to Sandy Liang. Ms. Zauner said the brand’s pieces, like a white eyelet dress, have helped her to embrace a more feminine personal style — particularly onstage, where she once felt pressure to dress in a way that would make people take her seriously. “I’m a Sandy girl,” she said.

Because of the brand’s nostalgic sensibility, Ms. Zauner said that she felt uniquely connected to its designer, too. She mentioned following Ms. Liang on Instagram and “seeing her in Japan at the Sanrio Cafe, and remembering having Sanrio wallets, and wondering how those references are going to pop up in her clothes.”

Ms. Zauner is not alone in her interest in Ms. Liang’s lifestyle and influences.

Earlier this year, after Ms. Liang got married to the architect Dorian Booth, fans analyzed her wedding details, including her bouquet — a single white allium tied with a black bow — and the schoolgirl outfits worn by waitstaff, on social media and in newsletters. New York Magazine’s Strategist website published an article about the black Merrell slides she wore with her white dress.

The blurring between Sandy Liang, the brand, and Sandy Liang, the person, is partially by design. Ms. Liang sells only clothing that she’d wear, she said. She doesn’t imagine a girl in her head while designing; she is the girl.

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