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After a year of posting on TikTok, Madeleine C. White (@madeleinecwhite) has 2.2 million followers. She started as a model, but over quarantine, she found inspiration on the short-video platform and quickly gained an audience. Known for her thrift-flips and outfit of the day videos, Maddie White is well on her way to becoming a style icon for Gen Z. On March 13, she joined Rhiannon Darling, a member of the Industry Programming team in Fashion at Brown, for an interview over Instagram live, the only event of this format in this year’s Brown Fashion Week.

Maddie White reluctantly started modeling at 16. She was teased in school for it, and didn’t see herself as someone extraordinary. Now, she looks back at the experience and is grateful that it made her resilient and gave her grit. As a kid, she always wanted to be a fashion designer. Modeling was close, but not her dream. Now, she’s able to design and create clothing as part of her content online.

Most of White’s apparel come in the form of thrift flips. “I’m actually not good at sewing,” Madeleine admitted, “you don’t want to see my clothes from the back.” White started thrifting out of necessity. As a model, she had to constantly show up with new clothing, but she didn’t have the money to buy new outfits every week. Now, she says she’s grateful that she had to learn to alter her thrifted clothes, because she probably wouldn’t have started sewing otherwise. 

Though her content and life is focused on fashion, White doesn’t actually watch a lot of fashion-related TikToks, as she prefers interior design videos and instant noodle recipes. She used this example to emphasize the importance of passion. “It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, you have to enjoy it.” White explained that people follow you because they like you, not what you do. Whatever you’re creating and posting should be something that you would want to watch too. If you do what you love and have fun doing it, an audience will find you. And whatever you do, don’t read the comments. If you look for negativity, you’ll find it, but there’s always an overwhelmingly positive response.

The conversation ended by looking forward. White hopes to design her own clothing line, “with people who actually know how to make clothes,” she joked. For now, she’ll continue posting daily videos showing her outfits and makeup looks.

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