How I Shop: YouTube and 'After' Star Inanna Sarkis

The actress, director, writer and singer drops some hints about her upcoming "Hypebeast-y," but "not merch" clothing line.
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Inanna Sarkis at an Oscars party at the Chateau Marmont in February this year. Photo: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Cadillac

Inanna Sarkis at an Oscars party at the Chateau Marmont in February this year. Photo: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Cadillac

We all buy clothes, but no two people shop the same. It can be a social experience, and a deeply personal one; at times, it can be impulsive and entertaining, at others, purpose-driven, a chore. Where do you shop? When do you shop? How do you decide what you need, how much to spend and what's "you"? These are some of the questions we're putting to prominent figures in our column "How I Shop."

Inanna Sarkis includes actress, writer, director, producer and singer as bullet points to her multi-hyphenate title — and she didn't wait for it all to happen to her. The Canadian-born, Los Angeles-based creator forged her individual path by putting her own short films and videos on YouTube — where she boasts 3.3-plus million subscribers and growing — to become one of the few to cross over into traditional Hollywood.

She most recently co-starred in the Harry Styles fan-fic meets "Fifty Shades of Grey" YA movie, "After," alongside Josephine Langford (Katherine's sis), Pia Mia, Selma Blair and Peter "Sandy Cohen" Gallagher. "I'm, like, the badass villain," says Sarkis, over the phone, about her character, Molly.

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Her nearly 9.4 million Instagram followers obsessively track and engage with her feed, featuring her streetwear by day, red carpet glam by night personal style — which also crossed over onto the big screen. "Molly's hair is pink, so that was super fun and funky to work with," says Sarkis. "I did spacer buns for a selfie and the next day [the movie's decision makers] were like, 'I liked how that looked, so let's actually do that for a scene.'"

In between prepping new content for all her own channels and readying for red carpet appearances for "After" (along with a slew of other Hollywood events), Sarkis jumped on the phone with Fashionista to discuss her deep sneaker obsession, the best spots to customize vintage denim in L.A. and her upcoming clothing line, which represents her work ethic.

L-R: Sarkis as Molly, Swen Temmel as Jace and Samuel Larsen as Zed in 'After.' Photo: Courtesy of Aviron Pictures

L-R: Sarkis as Molly, Swen Temmel as Jace and Samuel Larsen as Zed in 'After.' Photo: Courtesy of Aviron Pictures

"I've definitely gotten more [into] fashion. I'm styling myself more. When I first started doing a bunch of videos on YouTube, I feel like I did not care — I just wore whatever. 'Oh, what do I have in my closet? I'll just wear that.' I didn't think about styling myself. I was doing so many things: I was directing, I was writing, I was producing, I was acting, I was PA-ing. 

Styling was the last thing on my mind. But the more I was working in the industry and doing films and going to events, I was like, 'oh shit, styling makes your image,' and it just [helps express] you as a person. So the stuff I've been shooting lately, I have been focusing on getting a 'glam' person and figuring out hair, makeup and the outfit that all bring out the character.

My style is definitely 'tomboy.' Because I live in the Valley, if I don't have to get dressed up, I'm not dressing up. I don't really wear makeup and I have my hair in a top bun — that's my go-to. I don't want to spend 10 hours getting ready to go get a coffee, you know? I love boyfriend jeans. My day-to-day is mostly like that: crop-tops and jeans that are very casual, boyfriend and middle-sexy style. If I'm going out, then I will wear high-waisted, tighter jeans or a cute dress. I even love doing day dresses with runners. I love blazers with runners. I love the contrast of mixing sophisticated and everyday [pieces].

Photo: Fernando Gomez/Courtesy of Innana Sarkis

Photo: Fernando Gomez/Courtesy of Innana Sarkis

Obviously, [I have] the Balenciaga [Speed Sock Stretch-Knit sneakers], but I feel like they're overdone now. There are those other chunky Balenciaga [Triple S] ones and those Louis Vuitton Archlights, with that weird curve in the shoe. I love them because you can dress them up. I wore them yesterday with a dress to a night event. They're so versatile and you can get the most use out of them. Then, obviously, I love a good pair of Vans. I have, like, 20. They're so affordable. You can never go wrong with a clean white Van and I love the platform ones, too, because I'm short. I like my runners with some height.

I don't love shopping if I'm looking for something because I'll never find it. I'm that person. If I'm walking around and I see something, I'll grab it. I don't love online shopping as much, because I have to try things on, especially jeans. Forget about it. I'll never find the right pair online. But if it's shoes, accessories, crop-tops, I do all that online.

My favorite find is my Mackage leather jacket that I bought awhile ago in Toronto. I just stumbled upon it at the mall. I've had it for probably eight years and it gets better with time. It was like a $700 purchase and at the time, I was like, 'oh my gosh, I'm not going to buy a $700 jacket. I can't afford this, but I really want this jacket.' That was so much and I was still in college, but it fit so perfectly. I got it and I didn't regret it. I thought I would, but I didn't. I haven't found another good one.

I love shopping on Melrose. There's the Melrose Trading Post market on Sunday. It's super good. I went there when I first moved to L.A. and I bought two pairs of Levi's shorts and one pair of jeans that I've had for years now — they just have the perfect tears in them. They will also rip them up and 'vintage' it more for you. They have plain T-shirts and rocker T-shirts, and again, they can mess them up more, depending on how you want. That's the privilege. You can't go to a mall and be like, 'hey, can you distress this tee a little bit?' 

I got this 'Space Jam' t-shirt. She cut it, cropped it and completely frayed the back and it was just so cool. It's just a fun thing to do on a Sunday with your friends. They even have those Nascar race jackets; I got a kid's size one and it's just the cutest. Forget the men's jacket, I want the kid's one. It's more for the experience, I don't ever really go to try and find something. 

Photo: Fernando Gomez/Courtesy of Inanna Sarkis

Photo: Fernando Gomez/Courtesy of Inanna Sarkis

I've been taking my time and creating my own line. [I've been working on it for] awhile now because I've just had this strong opinion on not making it merch. I just don't want to do that because I wouldn't buy merch, so why would I have my fans buy it? I feel like everyone's taking the easy way out and just being like, 'oh, just slap on this,' and I didn't want to do that.

It's definitely more of a Hypebeast-y, street style thing. It's gonna be tracksuits and T-shirts and stuff like that. It's definitely about comfort and I want to have it so you can rock it with sneakers, but also heels. It's going to be unisex also — no gender association. I always borrow my boyfriend's clothes. 

I've changed the name a few times, but now we're finally, hopefully, going to stick to this one: Visus, which means vision in Latin. Basically it's going to represent the whole lifestyle of what you believe, what you envision for yourself and what you can create. I'm just a strong believer of that. When I moved to L.A., I didn't have anything. All I had was a vision for myself and that's what I stuck to. Your vision is your everything, and if you have tunnel vision, you can basically achieve anything you want."

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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