Selena Gomez has made herself at home—here, in a dimly lit studio loft, filled with Diptyque candles that smell of blackcurrant and roses. “I was totally being moody and just stretching in the bathroom,” she says, welcoming us in with a friendly wave. “I always want to have this kind of bathroom vibe with candles.” It marks the quiet, happy start to her next chapter: Today, Gomez will announce a long-term partnership with Puma, for which she has shot images for the brand’s Phenom sneaker launch. It is the first in an ongoing series of projects, as she has been tasked to design product and help direct future campaigns.
No doubt Puma hopes Gomez will inject the brand with her trademark authenticity, which has famously drawn more than 127 million Instagram fans. She certainly puts herself into everything she does and everywhere she goes. Take this candlelit studio, for instance. Stacked neatly on a wood coffee table are black and white Polaroids that Gomez had snapped just the night before. “My friend Petra’s been teaching me,” she says of Petra Collins, the downtown photographer who directed Gomez’s music video “Fetish.” She fans them out, revealing a series of beautifully grainy images—of Petra adjusting the strap on a shoe, of herself and her boyfriend, The Weeknd, linking arms in black tie. It feels intimate in a natural way—a taste of that genuine warmth.
Dressed in a black Puma tracksuit (cropped zip-up hoodie, pants cinched at both ankles), she sits down on the couch, tucks her bare feet beneath her, and begins to chat.
Congratulations on the collaboration; it’s an exciting one.
I know—I’m really excited. When it comes to this whole world of fashion—that’s what I’m going to call it—I think it’s become this collaborative thing where streetwear and fashion blend into one. It’s a really beautiful thing because I see girls now feeling sexy in not even necessarily workout clothes, but clothes you could go work out in, then put on a cute pair of shoes and go out after. That’s what’s so crazy about now. Even just throwing something over a workout pant or just sweats, you kind of feel like you can do whatever you want.
What is your personal take on the whole athleisure trend? Is it something you wear often?
Every day? [laughs]. I think it’s important to feel confident in what you wear. That’s all I really care about—I want to make sure anything I put on, I feel good in, because how you’re feeling on the outside really does affect how you are on the inside.
What do you wear for an actual workout?
When I’m at home, it can be very intimate. Maybe just a sports bra and maybe some little spanky kind of cute things. And when I’m out, then it’s the typical: something slouchy that feels sexy that I can take off. It’s about layering and cute little socks.
Socks? What kind of socks?
I add little chains to my socks because it adds a little charm, a little sparkle to it. Little anklets, actually. Me and my assistant got a bunch from Japan when I was on tour. I went through this whole phase where I would just wear the anklet around and shower in it. It’s effortless. I lose things—for me, it’s got to be on me, you know what I mean?
Generally speaking, do you put much thought into what you wear out?
It depends. I don’t like when people feel like they need to put things together or be stressed about that. That’s what’s really cool about what Puma’s been doing lately. It’s all these pieces that you know are going to look good together, so it’s just kind of throwing this on, throwing that on.
I mean, at this point, my boyfriend and I share closets, and [we’re] just kind of throwing different ideas around. Sometimes I’ll throw on his Puma stuff and just go out with my shoes. I’ll just wear that as a little cute date-night dress or something to the movies. You want to feel confident in it. When you start stressing about it and feel you have to create this image . . . you shouldn’t feel that way.
What pieces do you two share the most?
Hoodies. Staple hoodies.
So how do you feel about sneakers?
They’ve been so changing my life [laughs]. I actually forgot how to walk in heels, you guys. I’ve been figuring out the past few events I’ve gone to, I’ve forgotten how to walk in heels just a little bit. I’m like Bambi, trying to figure out how to get my legs under. It’s the craziest thing because you get so comfortable [in sneakers], and now you can just wear them everywhere. Now that I’m in the city—I’m going to be here for a little while—it’s even better. I can walk anywhere, I can put on a cute dress with them. My entire closet is sneakers and cute boots and now a few heels.
How many sneakers do you have in rotation right now?
Oh gosh. Just in New York? Probably like 20 pairs, but that’s not counting [those in] my home in L.A. Now that I’m a part of this [Puma] family, it’s nice because I’ll get to pick out ones that look good with everything.
When you were packing your 20 pairs, did you keep any sort of strategy in mind, or want to pack a specific range of them?
Yeah, because you have the sport, where you know you’re going to go do something active and want to make sure you feel comfortable. Then there are what I call the untouchables, where someone steps on it and you gasp. Those are the kinds of shoes everyone has, especially guys. I think guys have that on lock. Then you have the ones where you know you’re going to walk around and do what you have to do. It also depends on what mood I’m in: the simple high tops, black, white, platforms. It’s in my vibe.
What about colors? Anything you gravitate toward in particular?
I feel my colors are usually primary, sometimes secondary. Look at my sixth-grade arts stuff coming back to me [laughs]. Now I love the little soft colors of red or pink or blue. I’m such a classic person, so when I add a simple taste of color, I like it to feel not overpowering, for me personally.
Do you remember your first pair of sneakers?
Oh yes. I think I wanted the shoes with the wheelies at first, remember those? That’s what I wanted more than anything. I also don’t know what I was doing—it did not work out for me very well. I think I wore them once, I’m not even kidding.
I’ve been working since I was 7, so the earliest memories of me are when I’m on Barney [& Friends], which is so funny. I talked about this the other night, but that style is coming back. I was literally 7, but the way those shoes with the socks that fold over . . . it’s so kind of now. Not that I was creepily watching myself on Barney. We were just laughing about how I was on Barney because it becomes a joke amongst friends. But those are my earliest memories. Then getting older, you go through different phases.
Would you say you’ve been in a sneaker phase lately?
Yeah. For me, I started just wanting to feel grounded. I took some time off, and I needed to kind of take a moment for myself because all of this has been overwhelming. So I used to just walk around my house barefoot or with socks, and everywhere I would go, I would wear a sneaker from that point on. I’ve always worn sneakers, but I’d say in the past year, for sure.
In terms of workouts and overall wellness, what kind of approach do you take?
When it comes to that stuff for me, I love feeling like I’m getting all the stress out. I’m not a very aggressive person; I’m more emotional. So not to be cheesy, but my stretching and all of that really makes me feel like I’m getting stuff out. So I like to do that a lot throughout the day. Sometimes in front of the fireplace, so it just feels warm.
Looking ahead at this collaboration, is there anything you feel inspired by right now?
I have to be honest, coming to New York has been very inspiring for me because I’m living here for a minute, and I’ve never lived here. I’ve come for 10 years for work, but you’re here, do a job, and leave. And this is kind of a huge staple city for streetwear—I get so many ideas just walking to get coffee every morning that I wouldn’t get in my car in L.A. My friend Petra [Collins] . . . I walk around her area. We went to Queens the other night to have Italian food. And I really like that.