"2011 was a messy year," Jade Thirlwall tells me. "But it was fun, though." The singer and I are discussing Little Mix's fashion choices at the start of their career. Whatever they thought of their X Factor outfits, I can confirm that "messy" is far from where the band are now — standing in front of me are four enviably chic women who look just as good in real life as they do it the photos.
Little Mix have reigned supreme as one of the best girl groups since their inception back in 2011. They've since had a string of number one singles and albums, as well as sell-out tours. Over the years, they've expanded their brand to confectionary, books, hair care, and beauty. But now the Little Mix girls have collaborated with Pretty Little Thing to bring us a fashion collection. And thank goodness.
Although the girls have always been a united foursome, 2019 has been the year when each member has taken time to pursue their individual passion projects. Jesy released her Odd One Out documentary, Jade opened a bar in South Shields, Perrie brought out a collaboration with Superga, and Leigh-Anne created her own swimwear brand, In A Sea Shell. But now the girls have come together again to work with Pretty Little Thing on a new collection. The range reflects the band well, with everything from thigh high boots to a sparkly transparent dress showing off Little Mix's individual style. In other words, if you're planning a night out, look no further.
Lollie King: How did the line with Pretty Little Thing come about?
Jade Thirlwall: Umar [Kamani, Pretty Little Thing co-founder and CEO] has been interested for a long time...
Leigh-Anne Pinnock: He messaged and said he really want to make this happen and we wanted it to happen as well but it was maybe not the right time, and this seemed like the perfect time to do it.
LK: What was the biggest challenge you faced creating the line?
Jessie Nelson: Do you know what? I don't think we had any. That what was what so lovely about creating this range was that we had so much free reign and we could do whatever we wanted and that's why we loved working with them. Perrie was just saying they catered so much for us. We could be like, "Can we have a bag?" or, "Can we have matching shoes?" Anything, and they would get them.
Perrie Edwards: There was no limit, it was fantastic.
JT: The only downside was having to get rid of certain looks, because there were too many.
JN: There were some really good ones that we lost.
PE: At least we've got a head start if we do decide to do another.
LK: Which looks best represent you guys?
JT: I love tailoring and anything glittery. If it's glittery, I'll have it. Anything fabulous and sparkly, that's me.
LP: Some of the looks from the collection have the same style but different colour or material or fabric. But they do a good job of showing our individuality.
JN: Absolutely, I think you can easily say who's is who's, just by looking at the different, outfits [in the collection].
PE: You can mix and match them all as well. We literally can't wait to wear each other's. Through the whole design process, we just loved everything we picked, we loved together.
LK: Did you make any fashion faux pas when you were younger?
All: Loads, too many.
PE: Anything from 2011 to 2012.
JN: Probably the worst dressed we've ever been
JT: 2011 was very much a year of throwing anything colourful on, it didn't have to match. There was a lot of cycling shorts going on but with shorts on top.
LP: Remember those disco pants that you could get from American Apparel? I used to be obsessed with them. R.I.P American Apparel.
JT: 2011 was a messy year. But was fun though.
LK: You have a strong message of female empowerment, how do you use fashion as a vehicle to express yourselves?
PE: We know that all four of us are completely individual with our styles, with our body shapes, what we feel comfortable in, and what we don't feel comfortable in, and I think that's why we wanted to cater to everyone. It goes up to size 22, so it's really inclusive
JN: You can mix and match the different bits from the collection so people can be really expressive with their style.
LK: How has your fashion evolved with your music?
PE: It's mainly just maturity
LP: Each album has stepped up a level and with fashion, it's done the same. We're a lot more polished now. When you look at us from 2011 to now it's like, "Are they the same band?"
JN: That's because we were kids back then and now we're women.
JT: On a day off, I think we could all put a look together and not be styled. But back in the day, if it was a day off and we were left to our own devices, god knows what we would've come out the house looking like. Now we really know what we like and what empowers us.
LK: What piece of fashion advice would you give to your younger selves?
JT: Dress for you and not other people. I think I spent far too long when I was younger thinking, "Ooh will this boy like me if I wear this?" Or, "Will I be popular if I wear this?" I should've just been like, "I like this so I'm going to wear it." Dress for you because it's your life and you need to walk out the door feeling great in what you're wearing not trying to please everyone else.
LP: You've nailed that.
LK: Would you rather be full glam or in sweats forever?
LP: Sweats! Sorry guys, I already know.
PE: Jesy as if you're even contemplating. Of course you're full glam, why are you acting shocked?
JN: Yeah but it's just so uncomfortable to be full glam all the time.
LP: There's something about a fresh face and lounge wear, I'm sorry.
PE: I think if I could automatically click my fingers and be glam I'd be glam, if not no, trackies all the way if not, because I cannot with long glam times.
LP: Let's just do an Alicia Keys and go bare faced and natural.