At just 16, the actress Sadie Sink is also practically a model: In addition to making her onscreen debut as the enviably cool skater girl Max in Stranger Things, the past couple of years have also seen her walk the runway for Undercover and Miu Miu—alongside Naomi Campbell, no less—as well as star in a Miu Miu campaign and attend shows like Chanel, which has been dressing her since before the series even premiered. It wasn’t until this Friday, though, that Sink attended her first-ever New York Fashion Week. And that wasn’t, as her track record shows, because Sink previously lacked the pedigree, but rather that spending three-quarters of the year filming with Millie Bobby Brown and co. in Atlanta didn’t allow for much flexibility in her schedule.
So when Kate Spade invited Sink to its Fall 2019 show on Friday, a couple of months after they wrapped shooting season three, Sink didn’t hesitate. “I live in New Jersey, so I kind of just go to New York whenever,” she said casually at the NoMad Hotel that morning, where she was getting ready to unite with fellow actresses KiKi Layne and Julia Garner, whom she starred alongside in Kate Spade’s spring/summer 2019 campaign.
Photographed by Tim Walker, the campaign served to herald a new era for the brand after the sudden death of its founding designer last year at age 55. Having paid tribute to Spade last season, which was creative director Nicola Glass’s first, the brand riffed off of Spade’s enthusiastically colorful legacy this time around, photographing the three actresses against a cacophony of patterned wallpaper and upholstery. (Though Sink won’t soon forget that the shoot actually took place in the “freezing cold” of snowy upstate New York.)
For Sink, there’s even more significance to working with the brand beyond the poignant campaign. “I remember when I was little—well, I guess that would be like three years ago—I was looking at the clothes and campaigns on their site,” she recalled. “So it’s crazy that when I go to the site now, it’s my picture and my campaign.” In case you couldn’t tell, for a teen, Sink is surprisingly aware of her age: “I’ve always loved fashion but I think that right now, it’s hit its peak—I’m just so obsessed with clothes and paying attention to brands and collections,” she said. “I guess 16 is kind of the age when you start to develop opinions on all that and knowing what suits your style.”
Sink really began experimenting with her style last year, when she started showing up to high school wearing items that brands had sent her, like a glittery bejeweled Miu Miu sweater, much to her classmates’ amusement. “Everyone made fun of me, like, ‘Sadie, what are you wearing?’ And I was like, ‘It’s Miu Miu, just don’t worry about it. It’s fashion!'” she recalled with a laugh. This year, however, she hasn’t had to deal with any more jeers in the hallways; now that she’s a junior, she’s finally given in to taking online classes. “It was hard to keep up with the work when I’d sometimes have one to three hours of school a day, but everyone else had eight hours. I didn’t want to do that again for season three. I stuck it out for as long as I could, and then I was just so unhappy and stressed. Then I switched to online school, and I’m still stressed,” she said, pausing to laugh before adding, “but it’s better.”
It’s also much more comfortable, seeing as Sink can now spend her days lounging in pajamas. “So when I do go out, it’s like an event,” Sink said. “I have a lot of fun with it and get excited about wearing my new clothes.” Her latest addition to her wardrobe is a long blue dress by Kate Spade, which she plans to either wear with heels and makeup or a pair of white sneakers. “A lot of their clothes are things I would actually wear, because they’re very versatile—you can dress them up or down,” she said. (Naturally, she chose to do the former for her NYFW debut, which ended up doubling as a debut of Kate Spade’s new fall 2019 collection; Glass picked out Sink’s ensemble of a purple cheetah-print dress and matching coat, pink platforms, and glittery tights herself.)
Like a true teen, Sink didn’t sit with her mom, who she arrived with, at the show that afternoon; instead, she could be found in the front row, sandwiched between Garner, Layne, and a new addition to their crew: Maggie Gyllenhaal. Still, Sink doesn’t deny that, like most high schoolers, she definitely still relies on her parents, especially when her schedule gets jam-packed—like when she’s trying to juggle shooting a hit TV show in Atlanta and preparing for the ACT and SAT back in New Jersey. “There was one time during my busiest month when I went into school and they were like, ‘Sadie, where’s your calculator? The PSAT is today,'” Sink recalled. “I was like, ‘The what?’ Luckily it was the practice one, but I still had to text my dad and get him to bring me my graphing calculator.”
Besides the real SAT, there’s another turning point coming up on Sink’s agenda: the release of Stranger Things season three, which will roll out on Netflix July 4. Sink, of course, can’t reveal too much about what’s to come, but she did promise that season three will be “very different from the others—but in a good way.” Rather than the realm of demogorgons, most of the action takes place during the summer—as well as in the characters’ personal lives. “Forget about sci-fi—it’s just about what’s going on with them and being teenagers in the summer, going to the mall, doing normal teenager stuff. You really dive deep into who the characters are and their backstories this season, and then as the season goes on, it gets into the stranger things.” (Strange enough, apparently, that Sink said her character, Max, barely has time to hop on her skateboard this season.)
Since shooting wrapped in November, Sink is now actually less up-to-date on the actual personal lives of her castmates than those of their characters. “It’s really hard to keep in touch when we’re all so busy,” she lamented—an issue she said is exacerbated by the fact that she’s not exactly fond of social media. (Even though she has nearly four-and-a-half million Instagram followers, she looks at the app so rarely that she often deletes it off her phone.)
Increasingly, then, the actress has come to rely on her friends at home to keep her informed of what’s going on with those she recently spent every single day with for eight months straight: “They’ll be like, ‘Oh, Millie is in this country!’ Or ‘Noah [Schnapp] is doing this right now!'”