Selena Gomez and I are talking about working out. She likes pilates, but I can’t get into specifics like what kind or where she takes class. For a long time, she was the most followed person on Instagram, a title she never sought out and recently ceded to Cristiano Ronaldo, both of whom are nearing the 150 million mark-so it makes sense that she needs to keep a few things secret. Unlike Ronaldo, Gomez has a tenuous relationship with social media and takes periodic breaks from technology, like the one she announced at the end of September.
We had been talking about her exercise routine, one that varies to prevent boredom, and includes-along with Pilates-dance, swimming, cycling, and walking. “I like to find ways that are not so rigid,” Gomez says. The same flexibility applies to what Gomez wears to train. “I feel like when I dress up for a workout, I’m also dressing to what I’m trying to reach, like a goal,” she says. “So if I’m going to wear a baggy shirt and be tomboyish then I’ll go in that way. If I’m coming in more delicate, with the tights and stuff, then I’ll want to do Pilates.”
Now, with her latest activewear collection for PUMA, called Strong Girl, Gomez set out to make simple, encouraging pieces designed for working out (or not). “I get really insecure sometimes, I go through weird ups and downs, but in general I just want people to wear what they feel comfortable in,” Gomez says. “My assistant, she’ll wear workout clothes everyday. But she doesn’t work out. It’s just become a lifestyle, and she loves it. She loves how she feels and she loves how she wears it, and I mean, that’s what I want everybody to feel. She’s inspired me a lot too.”
ELLE.com spent some time in Los Angeles with Gomez just before the photoshoot for the SGxPUMA campaign, which stars Gomez and her own closest friends, for an exclusive interview about the line's secret messages, the pressures of social media, and what makes her feel strong inside and out.
Some of the garments include secret taglines on the inside, like "Strong inside out.” How did you come to that message and what does it mean for you?
I want to encourage women. I really would love to use my platform for good, and along the way have so much fun with movies and the music. I wouldn’t be able to do any of it if it weren’t for the people that supported me, and that kind of sounds like a cliché, but its true. So I think for me, I’ve always wanted to be a good example. Not because I’m not going to mess up-I fuck up all the time. It’s more just that I want to be honest with them. I’m going to say: I’m trying the best I can and that’s what you can do too-just try the best that you can, and it’s hard. And you’re not alone.
I think it’s important for girls to know the strength in everything, their identity and their soul, lies within themselves. And too much today you give that away so easily, from social media to school or relationships. And I think it’s important-I want to remind girls that they’re perfectly strong the way they are.
I think with fitness, there’s already kind of that pressure. You can be exercising and taking care of your body without trying to look a certain way or even change your body.
Exactly. I mean, all of my friends have way different body types. It’s beautiful. I don’t have friends that are all the same size or anything. I understand women’s bodies more from my friends, because of the way that they dress and what fits them.
The collection has some really fun pieces, like the jumpsuit and some layered pieces. Where would you wear the jumpsuit?
I made the whole collection so that anybody could wear it however they want. As long as you feel good about yourself, you should wear what you feel like wearing. I wanted it to feel like you had options. So the jumpsuit isn’t maybe that practical to do a run in, but it would be good to maybe take a walk. For me, I actually want to wear it to, like, a restaurant because I think it’d be really cute. And with a sneaker, white sneakers, I would totally wear that for comfort and for ease. I’m all about comfort.
As far as the other workout stuff goes, it's meant to do whatever you want with it. So if you wanted to wear a shirt over this or if you wanted to put this hoodie on…. I wanted it to feel like you could pick and choose, so they design their own. That’s why all of my pieces seem really layered, but you can take things off. It’s fun to play with.
You’ve designed this range, and you’ve worked with Coach. Does all of this make you feel like you want to design your own line?
Oh, I don’t know about that. It’s just great to partner with people who really have an understanding of what they do. I’m just happy as it is now. I don’t think there’s going to be any sort of "my stuff" yet. I’m very happy with where I am.
In terms of your personal style, are there friends or movie characters you get style inspiration from?
I guess I’m so moody, so I’ll watch Almost Famous and then I’ll want to dress like Kate Hudson for the week, or I’ll watch Marilyn and I’ll see something that I want to wear that’s all '50s style. I think that’s probably why I’m an actress, because I’m like…different personalities [laughs]. But it’s just fun. I love dressing up. I love being inspired by art, by music, by movies. I don’t really limit myself. I think I just like to do the things that make me feel good.
Do you have a current off-duty style go-to?
I buy dresses. You know those little pretty floral dresses? I’m crazy about them, so I have tons of them. That’s my go-to. Anywhere I go, I just throw my hair in a bun and put that little dress on and some sneakers.
What do you wear when you need extra strength? Where you say, "I’m going to put this on and I know I’ll feel extra strong."
A turtleneck. Every time I have a turtleneck on with some high-waisted pants, I feel like I can dominate. I feel like I’m a woman. It’s funny how you can put something on and it can make you feel that way, but that’s the only thing that makes me feel that way.
What about the shoe? Do you prefer a flat or a heel?
The older I’ve gotten I prefer a flat, but always a heel. Gotta suffer the pain for the look.
We're on set for your shoot. Do you do anything to prepare for a shoot like this or a shoot in general?
No, most of the time I don’t really know what I’m doing that day. But I just really enjoy coming, and that’s how I live my life. I feel like if I knew everything that’s happening every single second of the day, it would really overwhelm me. Today I knew I had this, and I’m so excited and I’m just going to enjoy it and then leave. I don’t prepare for it, necessarily-I just get excited, and then you create something together when you’re on set.
So going back to the hidden messages in the clothes, can you talk a little bit more about that detail? Are there any more little secrets in the collection?
I think I’m going to always do something like that with something I design-add my own little element to it. But the whole point of the message is if your mind feels strong and your body feels strong, and you feel like you can tackle things, that’s the best feeling. I just want people to feel that.
It’s cool to see that because people know that if there’s a body-shaming moment, you have something to say that’s going to inspire people.
Definitely. Oh, don’t get me started. I’m very protective.
The SGxPUMA Collection will be available on December 12 at PUMA.com and selected retailers. Shop the collection early at the SGxPUMA Pop Up on December 8 and 9 at 8382 Melrose Ave in Los Angeles.