Worn Well

NYFW: How Designer Claudia Li Styled Teva Sandals for the Runway

Claudia Li

Designer Claudia Li shares how she customized Teva sandals for her Spring/Summer 2020 New York Fashion Week presentation and why diverse casting matters.

During New York Fashion Week, all the most influential fashion tastemakers, artists, models, bloggers, editors, and photographers converge in Manhattan to view the latest designer collections that lead next year’s top fashion trends. Every season, designers have looked to Teva’s iconic sport sandal styling to complete their runway looks with casual effortlessness.

This year, we caught up with one of those designers, Claudia Li, to go behind-the-scenes of her Spring 2020 presentation debut in New York.

Designer headshot

Designer Claudia Li.

For her latest collection, Claudia Li paused to reflect on her brand’s journey and set a new intention for the future. From reworking signature tailored and oversized shapes with surprising new technical fabrics to incorporating deeply personal photography-driven prints, Li’s collection surprises with its layers of details.

Here, Li shared more about how her Spring 2020 collection marks a new chapter for her brand, why diverse casting matters and a closer look at the hand-braided techniques she incorporated into Teva’s Voya Infinity sandals.

Claudia Li

Indio Jewell in Bright White worn with Claudia Li. Photo by Bridget Fleming.

Tell us about the inspirations and themes for this collection. 

Spring/Summer 2020 marks a new chapter for us. My team and I reflected on the past four years of the brand’s evolution, revisited our signature silhouettes and enlisted new ones to capture the truest essence the identity of CLAUDIA LI. We explored different treatments of denim, silk screen printing, different braiding techniques of our paracords, and played with what is very true to the DNA of CLAUDIA LI, which is the playful element of surprise. Also, we LOVE tech-y materials like the UV reactive jacquard knitwear and UV reactive windbreaker fabrics. Spring/Summer 2020’s main print was created with a photo of my parents in their 20s, my mother was wearing a floral batik dress, standing barefoot on a giant rock with my father smiling in the back.

Claudia Li

Claudia Li’s Spring/Summer 2020’s main print was created with an old photograph of her parents. Pictured: Midform Universal in Candy Stripe Black. Photo by Bridget Fleming.

Why was Teva perfect for styling with your collection? 

It is important for me to collaborate with brands that share a cohesive message with us in order to complement each other. This season I really wanted to show the core DNA of the CLAUDIA LI woman. She dresses to please herself because she responds to garments – she’s not trying to impress anyone else in her life. She picks garments that suit her life. She is multi-faceted, has passions and a career.  She’s quite strong but at the same time, can be very carefree and spontaneous. The free and adventurous spirit that Teva embodies was a perfect fit.

Claudia Li

Indio Jewell in Bright White worn with Claudia Li. Photo by Bridget Fleming.

Claudia Li

Indio Jewell in Bright White worn with Claudia Li. Photo by Bridget Fleming.

How did you style and customize Teva in this collection?

We customized the Voya Infinity with our signature paracord braids and crocheted flowers. We use a lot of paracords in our collections and when we received the Voya Infinity sandals, it was very clear to us that we should “CLAUDIA LI” them up with some hand braided and crocheted details!

We kept the Midform Universal and Indio Jewell as they are. It was actually a surprising coincidence that Teva had the Midform Universal in Candy Stripe Black. I wanted to use a patterned shoe that compliments our prints and it worked out really well!

Claudia Li

A close up of the Voya Infinity that was customized with paracord braiding by Claudia Li. 

Claudia Li

Voya Infinity in Black worn with Claudia Li. Photo by Bridget Fleming. 

Last season, you cast all Asian models of different ethnicities. As a Chinese-born, New Zealand-raised designer, why was this important to you? What was the story behind casting this season? 

I’m incredibly fortunate to have grown up with the mom and dad I did. Creativity wasn’t something they taught me – it was baked into the way that they lived and it was normal. I was never afraid to explore ideas, design, or express myself through different outlets.  I consider myself sort of a nomad. I grew up in New Zealand but I also went to elementary school in Singapore, university in London and Beijing, and graduate school in New York.

So to me, home is the memories that I bring along with me. I think understanding first-hand at a young age how big the world is, how different cultures influence major cities, how people dress, the multitude of the different lives that people led—all these things are embedded in me and they inform my perspective on art and design.

The first time with all-Asian casting for SS19 was a choice that for me was very personal. But of course, in the world we live in, the personal is inherently political. Representation is not equal in any industry and certainly not fashion. Asian models are still too frequently used as a token to check some politically correct diversity quota. I knew that we would raise some eyebrows, but the volume and depth of the response took my entire team by surprise. I’ve been receiving very heartfelt, very personal messages from women on Instagram. So the decision to continue our message and support for diversity was only natural. Showing on the runway at fashion week is a global microphone and there is a real ongoing responsibility that comes with that.

Claudia Li

Indio Jewell in Bright White worn with Claudia Li. Photo by Bridget Fleming.

Claudia Li

Midform Universal in Candy Stripe Black worn with Claudia Li. Photo by Bridget Fleming.

We love your prints and textures! Tell us more about the story behind your prints and the UV print. 

Spring/Summer’s main print was inspired by a photo of my parents in their 20s. My mother is wearing a batik print floral dress and a thick braid is wrapped like a crown around her forehead. We overlapped the print with plumeria flowers and graphic lines which were a reference to shadows cast on the old photo through our studio windows.

I love to play with unexpected surprises in materials. We have a signature raincoat in a material that is water-resistant and solid when it’s dry but our logo umbrella print appears when it’s wet. The UV jacquard and prints were something that we thought would be cool for Spring/Summer.

Claudia Li

Midform Universal in Candy Stripe Black worn with Claudia Li. Photo by Bridget Fleming.

What was the most memorable NYFW moment for you this season and why?

The most memorable moment for me was definitely the group photo we took with the whole cast! Every season I get to know these women during castings, fittings and backstage. Throughout the whole process we bond and there’s definitely a whole lot of emotions at the end of the show.

Claudia Li

Voya Infinity in Black worn with Claudia Li. Photo by Bridget Fleming.

Voya Infinity

A close up of the Voya Infinity that was customized with paracord braiding by Claudia Li. 

Claudia Li

Midform Universal in Candy Stripe Black worn with Claudia Li. Photo by Bridget Fleming.

Shop the latest fashion sandals at Teva.com!