New York Native and Former Director of product at Nike, Sarah Sukumaran speaks to Features Editor Tina Edward
Gunawardhana on her aim In shifting the paradigm for women sneakerheads
Photographs: Ryan and Jonathan Wijayaratne of You’re My Favorite (Sri Lanka), Kathryn Page (USA) and product
photography: courtesy of Lilith NYC
Born in Queens New York to Sri Lankan refugees who had fled Sri Lanka during the island’s troubled past, Sarah Sukumaran, the
founder of Lilith NYC is asserting herself as a game changer and an equal in the male dominated world of sneaker brands. Sukumaran
was inspired by the little known biblical figure of Lilith, Adam’s first wife who in ancient literature was presented as a violent threat to
traditional marriage and motherhood but in contemporary story telling was portrayed as an assertive role model, more Adam’s equal,
less demonic and more a feminist symbol.
Given her inspiration it is a no brainer that Sukumaran threw caution to the wind and launched her brand during 2021 when the world
was in the grip of a deadly pandemic that had caused an economic meltdown in every corner of the world. Flying the flag for equality,
Sukumaran’s mission is to offer women an equal if not better range of sneakers that are on offer for men. She aims to penetrate the
male dominated sneaker industry with her own unique designs that combine her heritage, history, Sri Lankan architecture and her own
When did you realise you wanted to pursue a career in the creative field?
I don’t think I was ever actively pursuing a career in the creative field but I knew I was interested in doing something in the women’s
footwear space. Building a brand from the ground up inevitably led me to tap more of my creative side which is something I didn’t
realize I had, having worked mostly in the tech world!
Are you happy to be called a cordwainer or a shoe designer?
I hesitate to be called a shoe designer because my footwear design team handles most of the design aspects but
I am okay with being referred to as a footwear founder!