Sadie Sink's Stylist Explains Why Gen Z Is Better at Fashion Than the Rest of Us
Woke teens strike again.
The concept of a child or teen star is as old and storied as Hollywood itself.
But unlike the cutesy, Shirley Temple-esque tots of yore, or even the neon-wearing Lizzie McGuire-era pre-teens of 10 years ago, today's tweens are doing double duty as luxury brand ambassadors, wearing bespoke or off-the-runway pieces usually reserved for kids who are, at the very least, old enough to drive.
Actors and actresses as young as 12 and 13 years old have become the pint-sized mannequins for major fashion houses — we're talking Chanel, Balmain, Calvin Klein (all of which have outfitted the underage cast of Netflix's Stranger Things). It's a far cry from the bubblegum Candie's ads of the early aughts which tapped then It-girls like Hilary Duff and Avril Lavigne to pose in puffy pink tracksuits and denim mini skirts.
Rather than hitting the red carpet in their jeans and bedazzled tees, as was the norm back when the Duffs and Livelys ruled the step-and-repeat, these tweens have teams of stylists and glam squads, too.
And the Gen Z influencers seem to be multiplying at a rapid speed. There's Millie Bobby Brown, 13, who is the face of the Calvin Klein By Appointment label; Storm Reid, 14, who has hit the red carpet in Moschino and Prada; and rookie Sadie Sink, Stranger Things' newest castmember, who has already cultivated a relationship with Chanel, starred in a Miu Miu campaign and was hand-selected as the first person to wear Rooney Mara's vegan clothing line, Hiraeth Collective, on the red carpet. (With all of this in mind, it's all the more shocking that '00s teen queen Britney Spears didn't score her first fashion campaign until last week.)
Of course, Instagram plays a role in this obsession with Gen Z. When a young social-media-savvy actor or actress brings millions of eyeballs to his or her feed, fashion houses have a concrete metric to justify their focus. And it pays off, too. According to a new report by shopping site Lyst, Zendaya, 21, Brown, and Kaia Gerber, 16, have the power to drive search traffic for specific fashion pieces any time they step out the door.
We chatted with Sink's stylist Molly Dickson (Leslie Fremar's former assistant and one of THR's Stylists on the rise) about the power of Gen Z and how a bunch of tweens got to be more fashionable than the rest of us.
When did you start working with Sadie?
I started with her in August — it was one of her first photoshoots for Empire magazine. I used to work with Leslie Fremar, and one of her clients is Julianne Moore, who also has red hair. So right when I met Sadie, I thought ‘Oh, my god, she reminds me so much of a young Julianne Moore.’
Not only their looks — but I feel like they both have an appreciation and understanding of fashion. Sadie is 15, but she really does get fashion. She knows what looks good, she really appreciates high-quality pieces, she knows what’s cool, so that actually makes my job a lot more fun because designers then see it and then they want to start loaning to her.
I gave Chanel a photo of [Sadie] at the beginning of her press tour, and Chanel was like, ‘She’s so beautiful.’ She wears Chanel clothes so well, and I just think it’s so cool that a 15-year-old is walking around the red carpet wearing a great Chanel dress.
She seems to wear a lot of black and white. Is that intentional? Or is it just her taste?
I think that Sadie and I have very similar personal style — I don’t gravitate toward a lot of bright colors and prints and patterns and I think Sadie is the same way. It’s a little bit different because I think most 15-year-old girls do love the pink flowers and glitter and bright colors, and she is so mature for her age intellectually and I also think that translates toward her style of being cool and edgy and wearing darker colors.
Is she aware of dressing her age?
She actually is very aware of [dressing her age]. At the beginning, when I first started working with her she was way more aware of it than I was. We were doing this photo shoot and we had this tulle skirt and it was a little bit see-through and I was like, ‘Oh, it’s so pretty!’ and she was like, ‘Um, I think it’s too see-through?’ I was like, ‘Oh, my god, yeah, you’re right, you’re only 15!’
Tell me about her looks from Rooney Mara's vegan fashion collection, Hiraeth?
She and Rooney are friends. [Sadie] is vegan and Rooney’s team had reached out and said they would love for Sadie to be the first person to wear the line because she’s a great representation of the company. They’re all vegan, they’re eco-friendly, so I think it was a really great fit.
Also, the pieces from the collection are so cool and it just meshed well with Sadie’s style.
Gen Z feels more in tune with fashion than previous generations. Why do you think that is?
I think they have way more awareness. With social media now they can see what’s on the runways and what cool people are wearing, whereas when I was younger, I didn’t have the access. The nearest Vogue was like 45 minutes from my farm. I do think social media plays a large part in it, and they also have to be interested in [fashion]. When you’re passionate about something, you want to do it better and it’s also more fun.
But I do think that the show Stranger Things has been such a hit that designers are really interested in dressing the cast, too. So it’s coming from both parts.
What other brands have you collaborated with for Sadie?
We collaborated with Miu Miu on her Golden Globes gown and I thought it was so beautiful — it surpassed my expectations. She put it on and my breath was taken away. She’s always willing to try new things, which makes my job a lot more fun and easier. And she looks great in clothes.
Another one of your clients, Katherine Langford (21), has starred in some socially aware projects including 13 Reasons Why and Love, Simon. When you're outfitting her, is there a certain image you guys are trying to project because of the inherently heavy nature of the content?
I think that Katherine is so intelligent and strong and it translates to the fashion that we choose for her. I don’t think that she ever wears anything that’s super, super sexy or is too revealing. I think everything that she does wear shows that she’s a strong, powerful woman.
Gen Z seems more aware of what's going on in the world, and those in Hollywood use their platform to spread a message. Is that something you talk about when you're choosing brands to work with?
I think [it’s part of the conversation]. That’s why we strategically wanted Sadie to wear that line because it does represent something that she strongly believes in and also the clothes are very cool. So was an easy decision on our part.