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Getty Images for Daya by Zendaya

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Zendaya’s New Clothing Line Is as Woke as She Is

Daya offers unisex styles, sizes 0-22, and affordable price points.

If there were a platonic ideal for millennial wokeness right now, Zendaya Coleman would definitely be in the running for "most woke." The 20-year-old actor and singer has spent the past few years rapidly evolving from Selena Gomez backup dancer to Disney Channel star to her current roles as a recording artist and CoverGirl spokesmodel, but she’s probably best known for her willingness to use her celebrity as a platform to discuss social issues like race and equality. Her latest venture, a fashion line called Daya by Zendaya, launches today on her website and brand new app and features trend-driven streetwear she says she’s hoping shoppers will be able to easily mix and match into their wardrobes.

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As part of the launch, pop-up shops in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles will open this Saturday, November 5th, and I caught up with Zendaya at the Soho location to chat about her new line. The vast event space on West Broadway was filled with everything a content-hungry individual needs to have a good time: A step-and-repeat with the star’s name was lit and waiting near the front entrance, racks of clothes were artfully scattered throughout the open floorplan, and giant LED screens cycled through black and white video of the star walking the streets with a group of models like a pack of chic, androgynous futureteens.

She greeted me with a smile and a warm hug when she entered the room. The first thing you notice about Zendaya is how at ease and attentive she is, and how little work that seems to be for her. Her shoulder-length hair was in loose waves, and she was wearing black lounge pants, white sneakers, and an oversized graphic tee she said would be exclusive to the pop-up shops this weekend.

This initial Daya collection spans everything from lace-up booties to a military anorak, with clothes running in sizes 0-22 and no distinction between traditional plus sizes and regular ones. On the website, clothes are shown on models of all body types side-by-side, but Zendaya says that’s something she wishes people were less impressed by. "I made sure in my e-commerce photos that there was thick girls in there," she said. "You should just see them sprinkled in there and it should feel normal. You should scroll, you should see one [right next to the others], and that’s how it should be. It should come to a point where it’s not, like, thought about. Where it’s just like, ‘Oh okay.’ That’s the idea. Hopefully we’ll get there."

The line features a fair amount of sets — like the ribbed jogger and crop top, or the quilted jogger and kimono — but she says she’s looking forward to seeing people break the pieces up and style them their own way. Inclusivity was at the forefront of her mind from start to finish with the line, she said. She wanted to make pieces people could feel great in regardless of body type or income. "That was something that felt like a no-brainer... something that had to happen for me," she said. "I can’t just talk the talk, you know? I can’t just say all this stuff about inclusivity and loving people and breaking barriers and then actually not do it when it comes down to my own stuff. That’s fake."

More than anything, Zendaya seems focused on making clothes everyone can comfortably live their lives in. "Fashion is emotional," she said. "I think clothing is emotional. When you wear a new jacket, or you buy a good pair of shoes, or… you put on a dress that fits your body just right, you feel different. You feel good. And also, clothes can make you feel negative. If something doesn’t fit right, if something is not highlighting a part of your body that you like, it’s emotional. Right? And it makes you feel something, whether it be positive or negative. So my whole idea with this is to give people the freedom to do what they want with it… you can wear a slip dress and a hoodie if you want to."

She said there is no one ideal type of Daya shopper. When she was putting the line together, she pictured the clothes on anyone from her young fans to members of her own family, and it was important to her to keep the prices reasonable. Everything in the line falls into the $18-$158 price range. "If you’re a college student, you’re not gonna be able to buy a $500 jacket," she said. "You got rent, you got food, you know? And I have a lot of young people [paying attention to me]. And not even just young people, it’s just regular people. People who have lives to live, and clothes aren’t necessarily the first thing on their mind, but they wanna feel good.

"I want my mom to be able to wear my clothes," she continued. "I want my older sister to be able to wear my clothes. There’s too many different shapes and sizes in my family to say, ‘But you can’t wear that, though.’ [Offering a limited size range is] not even something that would cross my mind… because I just want everybody to feel included. This is for them."

Zendaya seems to want Daya to help people express themselves and figure out what makes them feel their best, a practice that’s very close to her heart. "Trying things is a very helpful element in finding out who you are," she said. "And experimenting really helps you gain confidence. For me, it’s much easier said than done. I can say ‘Hey, go be confident and go love yourself!’ and that’s much easier to tell someone than to actually live and do. And if you’re somebody that’s dealing with confidence issues, I can tell you all day to be confident, but you’re not going to feel it unless you feel it."

"To me it’s like, do the daily step thing," she continued. "As long as you take a daily step, like ‘Today, I’m gonna approach a situation with positivity,’ or ‘Today, I’m gonna compliment myself,’ or ‘Today, I’m gonna find one thing that I really like about my body.’ Just one thing a day will slowly turn into a much bigger effect. So it’s really just about baby steps and knowing that everybody has a process and everybody’s dealing with it differently."

Many of the Daya items are fairly unisex, but Zendaya said she’s hoping that even the ones that aren’t will appeal to shoppers of any gender identity. "There’s things that technically are made for women," she said. "But that doesn’t mean a woman has to wear it. Whoever wants to wear it can wear whatever the hell they want, you know?"

Ultimately, Zendaya said she’s focused on helping people do what makes them feel good. "That’s the most important thing to me," she said. "People living for themselves, or living for their own perception of who they are."


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