Before he was Queer Eye's resident style guru, Tan France was a very stylish child, going through "5, 6, 7, 8 outfit changes in a day."
He wasn't going anywhere except for school and home, but said in an exclusive interview with PopCulture.com that even at a young age he recognized the power in appearance.
Making over men in the Deep South of the U.S. as part of the new Fab Five for Netflix's reboot of the iconic gay show, France was well aware he would face backlash for the importance fashion places on exterior appearance. But putting your best face forward isn't about being shallow, he told PopCulture.com, it's about showing the world you're willing to put in the work.
"When people say fashion's not important, they mistakenly think it has no relevance to their life," he told PopCulture.com. “If you make no effort, you can’t be surprised if you don’t have the relationship you want, the job you want."
Unlike the show's first iteration, which took place in New York City, the men in the new Queer Eye have different circumstances that have brought them to the attention of the Fab Five. Many come from low-income backgrounds, some with children to feed and care for before caring for themselves. Style isn't high on their lists.
But France was able to meet these men where they are, taking one father who had almost no time to shop for groceries in between caring for his kids and working a demanding job, let alone clothes. But by taking him on a shopping trip to Target, he was able to get all his shopping done affordably at once.
“We showed how accessible style can be," France said.
And while fashion is more obviously about what you have to offer the world externally, France told PopCulture.com that the men he made over were clearly affected emotionally by being able to see themselves in a new light as well.
In episode two, France noticed a very obvious difference in makeover subject Neal from the beginning of their time together to the end.
"He couldn’t even make eye contact with us, and definitely didn’t appreciate physical touch," he said. But once the two started working on his wardrobe, trying one new outfits, "he had such an emotional reaction, because you’re talking about a very intimate part of [himself]."
France continued, "So I get to be a part of a transformation that effects them emotionally and physically.”
As for the one style mistake almost every man is making? France didn't even have to wait for the question to be finished before he had his answer.
"They never know their size," he said. "I don't understand that. Honestly, if that was fixed, that's half the battle won before I even get there."
Queer Eye is available on Netflix now.
Photo credit: Instagram / @tanfrance