Designers can be the best representation of their aesthetic, and since the launch of her label in 2004, Tory Burch has embodied the ease and élan of the clothing she creates. Still, in the age of celebrity endorsement, brands can shape their identity through Hollywood’s talent pool. Selecting the right talent to collaborate with has become an art form, but Burch appears to have met her match in Euphoria actor Sydney Sweeney.

Tapped as the new ambassador for Burch’s line of handbags and shoes, the rising star couldn’t be buzzier thanks to her scene-stealing roles on Euphoria and The White Lotus. Still, the fact that Sweeney is at the center of two of the most talked-about television series in recent memory wasn’t what captured the designer’s attention. A performer, producer, martial artist, auto enthusiast, and more, the multi-faceted Sweeney had moxie. “Sydney is one of the most talented and relevant young actors working today, but I am equally inspired by her curiosity and confidence,” Burch shared pre-announcement. “She is unapologetic and empowered in her approach to acting and business.”

Like many in Gen-Z, Sweeney came of age as Burch’s storefront became a must-visit destination in malls across America. Raised in Spokane, Washington, some of her earliest fashion moments came courtesy of Burch. “In third grade, my best friend got us matching Tory headbands for Christmas, which stands out to me so much,” shared Sweeney on the phone from Los Angeles. “I’d never had something so nice; I was so excited I wore that headband every day for weeks. I’m sure my mom thought something was wrong with me, but it was the first nice thing I’d ever had. Growing up in a small town, you’d see Tory’s store [in the mall], and that was where everyone wanted to be able to shop.”

By the time Sweeney moved to Hollywood, Burch’s pieces were a regular part of her wardrobe, but her interest in Burch was about more than clothes. Interested in entrepreneurship from an early age—the actor even created a five-year business plan to convince her parents to support her acting dreams—Sweeney was inspired by Burch’s entire enterprise. “She’s such an incredible businesswoman,” says Sweeney. “I hope to accomplish a third of what she’s been able to build.”

Selected to front the brand’s holiday ads in 2021, Sweeney immediately clicked with the designer and her team. “[Shooting the campaign] just felt very natural and fluid,” says Sweeney. “I was already a big fan of her clothing, and I think that showed, but when I met Tory, we completely hit it off.”

An entrepreneur in her own right—Sweeney’s production company Fifty-Fifty Films, which focuses on highlighting female directors and screenwriters, launched in 2020—she was moved by the philanthropic example set by Burch. The designer’s foundation helps female founders access capital and education resources, opening doors for women. “What’s been inspiring [to me] is how she supports and wants to empower the next generation,” says Sweeney. “I want to give back somehow, so seeing her do that so successfully makes me excited for our partnership’s future.”

In the interim, Sweeney is enjoying immersing herself in all things fashion. Though she still considers herself a jeans and T-shirt-girl off-duty, she’s embraced the power of transformation on the red carpet. “I’ve learned to create characters,” she explains. “I have social anxiety and used to get nervous before or during events. Now I create different personas that [represent] who I’d want to be in that moment, which puts me at ease.”

Thanks to fashion’s obsession with all things Euphoria, Sweeney’s event schedule is full. The show’s visual identity has struck a chord with viewers who recreate Doniella Davy’s ethereal makeup and obsessively chart each piece of designer clothing worn at #EuphoriaHigh. The series’ outsized influence on trends underscores its relevance, but neither Sweeney nor her castmates could have predicted its impact. “None of us knew what to expect from the show, but I think it’s beautiful that we’ve been able to touch people,” says Sweeney. “Each character is so uniquely themselves, and that allows the audience to connect with them, even when it’s through their style.”

This season, the wardrobe for Sweeney’s Cassie proved especially significant, the ups and downs of her emotional rollercoaster reflected in her wardrobe. Cassie’s arc was provocative, but Sweeney found bringing the story to life thrilling. “As an actress, it’s a dream role,” she says. “I’m getting to go deep and to creatively fulfilling places. Sam [Levinson] is such an incredible creator because it allows these characters to go places that people are scared to [approach], but he isn’t. Having the opportunity to bring this to life and affect such a huge audience is incredible.”

At this stage of her career, Sweeney is drawn to projects that push her outside her comfort zone. “My main decision points are ‘is this completely different from other characters I’ve played, and am I scared?’” she says. “You can’t be afraid to fail because if you are, you’re not going to be able to push yourself. Not everything will be perfect, but I know that if I’m challenging myself, I’m on the right path.”

Sweeney’s latest cinematic challenge is director Tony Tost’s National Anthem, a gritty neo-Western where she stars opposite Halsey. Tackling a new genre while sharing the screen with one of the world’s biggest pop stars isn’t easy, but it may not be as daunting as the star’s next fashion trial by fire: the Met gala. “I can’t talk about that, but I’m excited!” says Sweeney, who will be making her debut in a custom look dreamed up by Burch. “It’s a rite of passage. I’ve always seen the Met on TV or in pictures, and I never knew if I’d be able to touch that world. Now I am, and it’s amazing.”