Tallulah Willis is embracing the sun-soaked beach lifestyle in Cape Cod when we hop on the phone to chat. The 26-year-old actress and daughter of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis recently launched her first clothing line called WYLLIS, and admits that lately, her personal style has been somewhat limited to bathing suits underneath flowy dresses paired with Birkenstocks.
Willis grew up with two older sisters and an ever-changing relationship with fashion. “I think [having sisters] was massively influential on my love of clothes,” she says. “When you have older sisters and essentially built-in mentors in your family, at least for me, I just wanted to emulate them. There was a lot of picking up what they did and trying to do it for myself.”
With six years between Tallulah and her oldest sister Rumer, and three years between Tallulah and Scout, there was a time when Tallulah says she was still a little girl and her sisters had different bodies than her so clothes looked different on them. “For myself, there was this eagerness to grow up and shift into that feminine, matured woman figure because I wanted to dress like a woman,” she explains. “Before I found what my real voice was in fashion, I was just kind of a mash-up of parts of them.”
After years of emulating Rumer and Scout’s style, Tallulah found her own identity through fashion.
The first collection for WYLLIS showcases a vintage flare from the crew neck sweat shirts and flouncy collared shirts to the floral patterns laced throughout, but with some contemporary shapes mixed in as well. “I never wanted WYLLIS to be put into a box of like, we’re just retro. For me, a huge part of the first collection was to resurrect and rebirth these amazing shapes that were made so long ago,” Willis says. While the new designer says that the brand will always be tied to a vintage aesthetic, she also sees a lot of opportunity for experimentation. “My capability as a designer, even from 15 months ago, has completely evolved. We’re really finding our voice as a brand and our DNA. There’s a lot of room for evolution in a contemporary luxury world.”
One aspect of WYLLIS that will never waver is the brand’s advocacy for mental health awareness. Sewn into each item’s tag are the numbers for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and the National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline. Willis tells me that while WYLLIS is a brand and she wants to expand to include different fabrics, an even broader size range, and ultimately find success financially, the thread from her and her mental health journey to WYLLIS will never be cut. “There is such a beating heart to my brand that is more important to me than anything. And that is this visibility, this advocacy, this understanding that is an extension of me and how I live my life. I try to live my life as an ally, someone who isn’t just looking at an issue, but lives the issue and, and is right there, side-by-side with anyone who is struggling.”
With words of empowerment emblazoned on pieces of WYLLIS clothing and comforting love notes on the product’s online descriptions (the Yeah I’m Fine sweatshirt‘s description reads: because it’s ok if you’re not), there are overt mentions of mental health advocacy as well as more subtle hints throughout the collection. “I am seeing WYLLIS as a very organic marriage between having a brand and a space in the fashion world with a deeper purpose and a message,” Willis says.
An important part of Willis’s own mental health journey has been learning how to have a dialogue with the people she is closest to: her sisters. “We’re very close and we all, thankfully, very bravely embarked and continue to embark on a journey of diving inward and addressing all of our stuff,” she says. “We have this rule that, when we call one another and if you’re really triggered or something has happened, you start the call by asking, do you have space to hold this right now? It supports both sides.”
With good days and bad, Willis says there is always a benefit to communicating with the people you love, or an unbiased therapist. She encourages people to seek out help through her clothing line and her Instagram, and says she will continue to do so.
The fashion designer, business woman, and mental health advocate is gearing up to release an upcoming fall collection for WYLLIS as well as spring and summer 2021.