If you haven’t heard of Little Mix, or had their infectious first single “Wings” stuck in your head, you may want to get familiar. The quartet was the first-ever group to win the X Factor UK in 2011–a feat not even accomplished by a little boy band you may know called One Direction, who placed third on the show in 2010.
Little Mix–made up of Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, and Jade Thirlwall–are getting ready to take over the US with their debut album DNA (which, just 15 minutes after becoming available at midnight today, landed the number two spot on the iTunes charts). Their ’90s R&B sounds and “Girl Power” message will surely fill the Spice Girls-shaped hole left in your heart.
And the ’90s influence doesn’t stop at their sound: The girls, who were all born after 1990, frequently reference characters like Kelly Kapowski of Saved by the Bell and Hillary Banks of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as style icons. Leigh-Anne, Perrie, Jesy, and Jade all have a unique sense of style that can only be described as fearless.
We caught up with the girl group at a fan signing yesterday (over 1000 screaming fans showed up–and this is before their debut album had even been released stateside) to ask them about their style, stealing clothes from their boyfriends, and of course: Why the ’90s? (Would you believe Lucky Charms cereal has something to do with it?)
Fashionista: Since winning the X Factor, you’ve started working with a team of stylists–how has that changed your style?
Jade: I think the main thing is that since the beginning, we’ve kept our style, but just made it better or exaggerated it a bit more with the help of stylists. It brought us together more as a group as well, I think.
Leigh-Anne: Also, we didn’t really know all these different designers before. The stylists have really helped with our knowledge, what looks good, loads of different things.
You girls recently talked with Seventeen magazine about your style icons, and you mentioned Kelly Kapowski and Fresh Prince. What is it about the ’90s that you like so much?
Jesy: It’s colorful, it’s fun, it’s just what we’re about.
Perrie: I like the shapes of it, I like the high waisted jeans, I like the high-waisted denim skirts, I like the crop tops, and whenever I look at pictures of me as a baby with my mum, I just think everything she wears is amazing. I’m obsessed with the stuff my mum used to wear, so maybe it’s that.
Leigh-Anne: The ’90s are just cool, it’s just the best era ever for everything. TV Shows–Kenan and Kel, Sister Sister, Saved by the Bell. And food–like Lucky Charms, they don’t even do those anymore in England! Just everything about it.
You also mentioned that you admire men like Lil Wayne and Perrie’s dad. What is it about men’s style that influences your personal style?
Jesy: We like to boy it up–we’re not really, really girly girls. We like to wear baggy jeans, or baggy tops, and be a bit tomboyish from time to time.
Do you ever steal stuff from your boyfriends? [Perrie is dating One Direction's Zayn Malik; Leigh-Anne is dating footballer Jordan Kiffin; Jade is dating Diversity member Sam Craske]
Jade: I was wearing my boyfriend’s jumper on the plane today.
Leigh-Anne: I like wearing my boyfriend’s tracksuits because they’re really cool.
There are so many Tumblr accounts following what you guys wear. How does it feel to have fans documenting your style, even though you’re still young and experimenting with style yourselves?
Jade: It’s very flattering to have people love our style so much that they want to see everything we’re wearing and buy the same things and stuff. I mean, we are just young girls and sometimes, just like every other girl, we do get it wrong or we get it right, and that’s the fun of being in Little Mix. We get to try things all the time and experiment.
Leigh-Anne: It’s about wearing what you want to wear, and if other people don’t like it it’s their problem at the end of the day. We wear what we want, that’s what it’s all about.
How have your fans influenced your style? A lot of them are about the same age as you.
Perrie: When you see fans dressing like you and they get the same stuff and they dress it up differently, I think it’s a massive compliment to see that. If people like the way we dress that’s amazing, and if they don’t then they don’t, but fashion to us is just a way for us to express ourselves and our personalities and that’s why we want it to be fun. So, yeah, our fans do help a lot with our fashion because they always let us know what they like and stuff like that, and it’s nice to have their opinion really.
How is your onstage style different from your off-duty style?
Perrie: Oh my gosh, when we get styled for every day it’s hectic enough because we’re four girls with totally individual styles, individual tastes, but then when we perform it’s a whole new ball game because we dance as well. So we’ve got to think of how movements are gonna go, how slick we have to look, because “Wings” is very fun and upbeat, and then we’ll do “DNA” which is very harsh, so it needs to be right for all the songs if you know what I mean. So it can be hard to get performance outfits, but I think we’re getting it now.
Do you guys ever feel like you have to sacrifice your individual style to look more like a group?
Jesy: Never. Day to day we just dress how we want to dress, and the only times we kind of match is when we’re performing, but that’s just kind of a color theme, it’s not really matching clothes-wise.
Is it ever hard to work with three other women? Do you ever steal each other’s clothes?
Perrie: No, because we’re so different.
Leigh-Anne: The good thing about us is we’re all so individual and we’ve got our own style, so when we walk into a styling meeting, Alexis [Knox, their stylist] will have all our different rails, and we’ll know whose is who, so there’s no arguments over clothes.
You guys are all so fearless with beauty, from bright hair colors to make-up–is there anything you wouldn’t do, beauty wise?
Perrie: I wouldn’t dye my hair black.
Leigh-Anne: I wouldn’t bleach my own hair blonde, because I literally haven’t dyed it in so long, and it’s in such good condition, so I’m just scared to let any color touch it.
What do you admire about each other’s style?
Jade: I admire that we’re all quite brave, because I know not many people would wear what we wear sometimes because it’s so loud and stuff, so to have the guts to wear a massive bright lemon and lime thing—do you know what I mean?
[Jesy, Perrie, Leigh-Anne]: Aww, yea.
Do you ever look back at stuff that you wore and think, “God, I wish I hadn’t worn that?”
Perrie: Quite a lot, really, because on the X Factor it was different. We just cared so much about our performance and our vocal and getting the harmonies right that we didn’t care what we looked like, so we just threw anything on and it would be last minute. It was only one stylist with assistants to do everybody on the show, so it just got to the point where we were like, “We don’t care what we’re wearing, we just wanna have fun and put on a good show.” And that’s what it came down to.
Jade: There’s always that photo that you look at and think, “Ohh, I shouldn’t have worn that.”
Perrie: That’s because fashion evolves and trends change, but we’re not one to follow trends anyway.
What style advice would you give to your fans?
Perrie: Wear what you feel comfortable in, if you like it who cares? Be confident, experiment and see what happens!
Leigh-Anne: I think sometimes people just don’t like things that are different, things standing out and being unique, and that’s what we’re all about.
Jesy: Embrace your individuality! We’re all about dress for yourself, not for other people, and if you feel comfortable in it, that’s all that matters.