Millie Bobby Brown has done more in her 19 years (nearly 20, HBD!) than I’m likely to do in my entire life. Actress, author, and entrepreneur, her brand, florence by mills, carries makeup, skin care, fragrance, pet products, coffee, and now, clothing. Yes, today, Brown is revealing her latest venture exclusively with ELLE.com.
Brown has lived squarely in the public eye since the age of 10 when she went viral as Eleven in Stranger Things. She says that experience, of discovering her sense of style throughout adolescence, is a major reason why she wanted to launch florence by mills fashion, so that girls like her can have room to play with how they dress.
The debut collection is all about comfort. Amid writing and releasing a novel, planning a wedding to fiancé Jake Bongiovi, and filming the final season of Stranger Things, she’s a busy woman who just wants to wear some sweatpants. And who among us can’t relate to that? (The sweats bit, that is.) I caught up with Brown ahead of the announcement to get As to all your Qs. Read on for more.
Was apparel always part of your brand’s plan, and what made you want to expand into fashion?
I never thought I’d explore much with florence, but the more I moved, I thought, “Oh my gosh, I can do anything I put my mind to.” Anything that feels authentic to me, I can create for people that are like me. Whatever I want or whatever crosses my mind during the day, I think maybe somebody else is thinking too, and if I can create that and be that outlet, that’s very rewarding.
[When Stranger Things took off,] I was 10. I was going to these events and ceremonies, and all these big fashion brands wanted to style me. I didn’t know what my personal style was, and the only time I got dressed, other than for ceremonies, was to go to work. As I got older, I was like, “What is my personal style?” A lot of my friends already knew [their styles], but I didn’t know mine. For me, fashion has always been ever-evolving. It’s fluid, and I wanted to create something so that girls going through that similar experience have a resource to be able to try innovative new outfits and styles and phases. I wanted to be able to create something that was accessible to my generation, to my demographic so that when they go into a store, they feel like they have that one corner—even if it’s a corner in the back—that they have what they’re looking for, and they’re able to afford it.
And have you decided what your personal style is now?
I have a rail in my room, because I roll out of bed when I go to work, and I just throw on whatever is in front of me. But everything is soft, everything is cozy.
If I was to describe an aesthetic, I’m into a boho vibe. Anything loose-fitting and very comfortable. I like lighter colors. I’m not especially femme; sometimes I feel [femme] and then sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I’m wearing everything my fiancé wears.
Did you have any specific styles in mind that you knew you wanted to create?
I want to be able to wear boxer shorts to bed. That was literally the first thing that came to me when I was making [this collection], I was like, “We need to make boxer shorts for girls.”
Is that we can expect to see: comfy loungewear? Will you offer trend pieces, too?
I wanted to create really stretchy, soft materials that girls felt comfortable with going to school, going to work, things like that. I want people to feel like they’re wearing pajamas, but they’re able to go outside. That’s what I like. I want to wear pajamas to work.
I could follow trends, but florence isn’t about following trends. There’s a lot of that going on, especially on social media platforms, where you’re able to get this temporary satisfaction of everybody’s doing this, so we all have to do this. I don’t know if that’s the message that I want to put out there. Everyone has their individuality. Everybody sees things in a different perspective, and I want people to be able to really form their own style, opinion, perspective with florence, whether that be with makeup and skin care or with our apparel or with our coffee. We don’t all need to make our coffee the same way!
What kind of relationship do you have with florence’s consumers?
We really like to listen to our customers, our family. They tell us what they want or what they want to see, and we try to deliver. They know what the gap in the market is better than we do. When they’re going into stores and they can’t find something that works for them, fits to their skin tone, fits to their body, I want to be able to be that resource for them.
So inclusivity was part of your goal?
If one person can’t wear it, I’m not interested in making it. It needs to be for everyone. I went into that mindset with makeup and skin care, and that brand value did not change when we [went] into apparel. And we stuck to that in every meeting. I made sure we could go the biggest size we could. I made sure we were using stretch materials, things that are better for girls to wear in regard to whatever they’re doing. If it’s that time of the month—this is my big thing—if I’m on my period, I’m not going to wear something skintight to my body.
Amen to that. And lastly, what does fashion and personal style mean to you?
I’ve been asked this question since the beginning, and I’ve been like, “It means this…”, “It means, like, you know, self-expression!” But actually, I’m not sure it really means anything to me. I wear the clothes; the clothes don’t wear me. When I’m on red carpets, and they ask who I’m wearing, it’s like, OK…
Really, to me, it’s about self-confidence. I just want everybody to feel the best they can. And if that’s what florence gives girls when they’re wearing it, then nobody could have worn that outfit better. Making everyone feel happy and confident, ultimately, that’s what fashion means to me. It’s about building people up and not setting high standards.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Meg is the Associate Fashion Commerce Editor at ELLE.com where she researches trends, tests products, and looks for answers to all your burning questions. She also co-writes a monthly column, Same Same But Different. Meg has previously written for Cosmopolitan and Town & Country. Her passions include travel, buffalo sauce, and sustainability. She will never stop hoping for a One Direction reunion tour.