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Lukas Gage is fidgeting with his webcam just before the start of an interview, but this isn’t the story you think it is. As the newly-announced face of Madewell, the 27-year-old has spent the last few minutes trying to angle his laptop, to show off a pile of clothing from the brand that his mom bought to celebrate his campaign.
“I came home to like, multiple Madewell bags,” Gage says, with a sheepish grin that seems to be the actor’s de facto resting face. “She means well and she’s so sweet, but I was like, ‘I think they’re going to give me a couple of free things, mom!'” he sighs. “She’s like, ‘No, I don’t think they will.'”
The new Madewell campaign is titled “When the Fit Hits” and features four actors in the midst of what Madewell calls “their breakout moments.” Joining Gage in the campaign is Bodies, Bodies, Bodies star Chase Sui Wonders, The Flash star Kiersey Clemons, and South African actress Charlbi Dean, whose latest film, Triangle of Sadness, won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Shot by photographer Cass Bird, each of the actors put their spin on Madewell’s fall denim collection, celebrating what the brand says is “the feeling of finding the perfect pair of jeans and that moment where you look and feel your best.”
For Gage, the chance to rep Madewell was a no-brainer, having grown up around the brand in his hometown of San Diego. “It’s like a very SoCal brand and so it feels comfortable for me,” he tells Rolling Stone. “And like I said, my mom wears it and my brother wears it and I used to copy everything my brother did,” he adds. “I don’t feel like I’m trying too hard when I wear Madewell — it just fits comfortably and it just makes sense.”
On a lazy Monday morning, Rolling Stone caught up with Gage over video chat to find out more about his Madewell partnership, the evolution of his personal style, and why music would’ve been a dream job — if only he could carry a tune.
Where in the world is Lukas Gage today?
I just got back from filming the new season of You in London, and my family lives in San Diego, so I came down here and I’m picking up my dogs and taking them back to L.A.
How was London?
I was only supposed to be in the UK for a short time, but apparently in London, you can’t work more than eight hours a day (laughs). So it took almost an extra six weeks, and then everyone got Covid. At first I loved it. And then by like, month five, I felt like I had been there my whole entire life. Like I started talking in a British accent and everything — it was crazy.
Well, welcome back to the U.S. And just in time for your Madewell campaign to launch! How did this all come together?
I’ve had a couple brands come to me [to collaborate] and I just looked at their catalogue and the clothes are cool — there’s nothing wrong with them — but I would feel like a poser wearing it; I would feel uncomfortable. And I really do believe that if you don’t feel comfortable wearing the clothes, the clothes are not going to look good on you.
With Madewell, I actually owned pieces before they came to me, and when I looked at their catalogue, I was like, ‘I truly would wear any of this.’ There wasn’t one thing where I was like, ‘That would not look good on me.’
The new campaign is tied to Madewell’s new denim collection. Are you a denim guy?
I’m all about the denim, all the time. Like I wear denim on denim constantly. And the thing about Madewell is that everything they make is so classic and clean.
How would you say your sense of style has changed or evolved over the years?
Growing up, I was a big surfer and skater, so I would wear oversized T-shirts and like baggy board shorts and things like that. I look at pictures of myself in high school now and cringe a little bit (laughs).
Now, I like to keep it simple. I keep it neutral with the colors, like black, white, gray. I like a monochromatic moment; I like a denim on denim moment. I like to keep it simple with the shoes — like you can’t ever go wrong with white sneakers or Converse. Or a Chelsea boot or pair of Doc Martens.
How does it feel for people to be noticing or admiring your style more?
Love that. No one’s told me that.
I think you have great personal style.
Thank you, Tim. I’ve always liked clothes, but after I graduated high school, I kind of realized that clothes play a huge part in who you are. When I’m auditioning and acting, for example, I like to figure out the character’s voice and picture what they would wear. But also personally, when I’m going out, I noticed that when I feel good about what I’m wearing, I’m way more confident, and more myself, and more authentic. So I’ve begun to love clothes a lot more as I’ve gotten older.
I heard that you’re a big music guy too. Do you play any instruments?
I had a punk band called ‘Reckless Youth’ and we made a couple of songs. You can still find their MySpace page and you’ll see me with my dyed black hair, my black fingernails, and me on a drum. I was horrendous. I really wanted to be a musician growing up but I just think I had really bad rhythm.
No offense, but how did you get into drumming if you had bad rhythm?
I remember going to a No Doubt concert actually, and I must have been in like 10th or 11th grade, and I just remember the drummer was such a badass. And then in their music videos and performances, I feel like he was always naked, and so physical and just played with such anger and intensity. You always looked at the drummer and he was like, dripping with sweat. It felt very bad-ass.
So did you eventually get booted from the band?
Being a drummer but having no rhythm was a horrible combo. I remember the rest of the band was like, ‘You really aren’t made for drumming,’ and I was like, ‘Okay I’ll sing,’ but then my singing was a little pitchy, so you know, I was just better off going to the concerts, and not playing them.
Who were your musical inspirations growing up?
I grew up loving punk music and metal music. My first concert I ever went to was Pennywise and The Distillers. But I also really liked the Sex Pistols and Generation X — I was really into Billy Idol. I was into Blondie too and I remember going to one of their shows with my mom and loving Debbie Harry. And then I got a little bit into metal because my stepdad was in a metal band, and my brother was in a metal band. So like they turned me on to Iron Maiden and Sabotage and that kind of music.
Are you still listening to a lot of punk these days?
I still listen to punk and metal, but right now, I can’t stop listening to Doja Cat — like, I’m obsessed with her. I think she’s so cool and interesting, and she’s kind of like a theater geek like me. And I’m weirdly into her SoundCloud music and all her unreleased songs.
Have you ever met Doja?
I have met Doja once. And I went to her show, back in 2015, when she had that EP [Purrr!] with ‘So High’ and ‘No Police.’ It was probably 100 people, or maybe like 70 people, at her concert in Echo Park. And I just knew seeing her then, that she was going to blow up. I knew it.
What’s the last concert you went to?
Lady Gaga in London for the Chromatica Ball. I actually went to the Monster Ball in high school, and I saw Lady Gaga at my mall in San Diego when I was a teenager, right before The Fame came out. And she was like, playing in the parking lot of a mall. And I was like, ‘This girl is so cool. Who is she? Where did she come from?’ And lo and behold, it was Lady Gaga.
Okay I think we’re getting wrapped. Anything else you want to say?
There’s a Madewell store on Abbot Kinney [Blvd] in Venice. I’ll meet you there to try on denim jackets together.
Sounds like a plan.
(*To the publicist): Can you hook me and Tim up with some shopping money? We’ll go shopping together for the new collection.
You can tell your mom that Madewell is finally giving you free clothes.