Zendaya may have been sly about the news that she was starting her own clothing line, but make no mistake: This is the real deal. Daya by Zendaya, previously just a line of shoes the 20-year-old co-designed with her longtime stylist Law Roach, has expanded into apparel — and she's going all in, launching with a full-fledged selection of tops, bottoms, dresses, jumpsuits, and outerwear available in sizes 0 to 22. Oh, and the most expensive garment is $158.
Inclusivity touches every single aspect of the clothing line — and that was very much the intention, as Zendaya and Roach venture into a part of the fashion industry that historically hasn't been as representative of different body types. "I can’t just talk the talk, I gotta walk the walk — if you just talk the talk, then you’re full of air, you're not doing anything," Zendaya told Refinery29 at one of the three simultaneous pop-ups she's hosting in New York, Chicago, and L.A. to fête the launch. (She launched the pop-ups in tandem with an app.) With Daya by Zendaya, she's filling a gap she saw for quality pieces that are affordable and available to everyone. "This feels expensive, and that’s the point: I want people to feel expensive — just because you can’t afford it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have that feeling."
Indeed, affordability and inclusivity were her priorities. "Making sure we had quality, while also having the [low] price was hard, very hard to do — I didn’t want something that you would throw in the wash and it would be destroyed forever," she explained. And regarding inclusive sizing: "I didn’t want anyone to feel alienated, excluded, or feel like they weren’t a part of this," Zendaya asserted. "I want my mom to be able to wear my stuff. I want my older sister to be able to wear my stuff. I want thick women, tall women, skinny women to wear my stuff."
Numerous direct-to-consumer lines have launched recently with inclusive sizing from the get-go, so it's a less novel selling point than it used to be (which is great thing). But Zendaya's just concerned about making this approach the norm — because, why isn't it? "That’s why I made sure that in my e-commerce photos there was thick girls in there, not like, 'Oh, you have to go to a section to find thick-girl models in the clothes,' — it should feel normal," she said. "You should just scroll and see one — that’s how it should be. It should come to a point where it’s not thought about. Hopefully we’ll get there."
If you go through Daya by Zendaya's inaugural offerings, you'll find many gender-neutral selections — another conscious decision made by the duo, in an effort to erase any gender-binary defined style rules. "That’s what fashion is about: wearing what the hell makes you feel comfortable and confident in yourself," Zendaya told us. "If you want to wear the dress, if you want to wear the dress with the hoodie, if you want to wear the dress with the hoodie with the dress on top — I don’t care, as long as you feel good."
This is one of the many lessons she's learned from Roach, the stylist Zendaya has been working with since she was 14. Not many teens have a professional help them carve out what fashion means to them. "As a 14-year-old, I didn't know as much as I wanted to about the fashion industry — I just knew that I loved clothes and that I loved to express myself through clothes," she recalled. "Having him connecting that, teaching me about fashion and brands, I got the master course. I don't trust anybody else other than him."
Roach also helped Zendaya grow into the style star she is today, and she concedes that at first, she needed a little pushing. "I’d maybe be hesitant about something in the earlier days, when we talked about looks," she remembered. "Then he’d be like, 'Yes, but do you care?' And I was like, 'You know what? No, I don’t. Let’s wear it.' Now, I push him — I’m like, 'That’s it? That’s all we’re gonna do?' We just do things for the thrill of each other."
Roach wasn't the only person to teach her a thing or two about fashion. Long before she officially made the leap to designer, Zendaya was very much embraced by the fashion industry. (She's but two decades old, and she already has a few Met Galas under her belt.) Thus, she's gotten a few lessons from those who paved the way before her, most recently, Domenico Dolce. "When I went to Capri with Dolce & Gabbana, one thing that Domenico [Dolce] told me was that fashion is for the people — which is so funny, because that's literally what I've been saying and what I've been preaching," she said. "It’s about understanding the people, and that's the driving force behind it. That's the truth: When you're in the public eye, in many ways you give up part of your life to other people. My gifts and my talents don’t belong to just me anymore — they’re meant to be shared by other people, and make them feel better."
And you bet Zendaya has even bigger brand-building plans in store. "When I think of a brand I’d like to have in the future, I think of Oprah." (Um, same?) "If Oprah says it's trusted, it feels good to you; if she says this is the best latte, it's the best latte — because Oprah said it's the best latte. It's something you feel comfortable with, and there's a level of empowerment, of love, and of goodness behind it." We'd say this is a pretty solid start.
Check out the Daya by Zendaya lookbook, ahead.