Meet Cydney Sherman, the 17-year-old behind cydn3yyy, the screen-printing brand catching Olivia Rodrigo’s attention
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Most people spend their entire lives searching for the thing they want to do. Cydney Sherman discovered hers while in AP Bio. In the middle of class, she noticed she’d been tagged in something on Instagram. It was from an Olivia Rodrigo clothing fan account that displayed the Gen Z pop singer wearing a T-shirt Sherman had designed for her eponymous screen-printing clothing company, cydn3yyy. In that moment, it felt to Sherman like this person — this artist who she’d always looked up to and wasn’t more than a handful of years older than her — was validating her and her designs.
“[I was] like, ‘This is what I'm doing. I've found what I want to do,’” the 17-year-old New York City-based designer remembers. “‘I've found something that gets me excited, what makes me motivated.’”
Scroll through cydn3yyy and you’ll find a Y2K-as-translated-by-Gen-Z obsessive's fever dream in the best way: brightly colored screen-printed tights with patterns like eyeballs in a rosy pink cast, baby tees, tank tops emblazoned with designs like a warped multi-hued face and the repeated text “over it,” repurposed vintage pieces, and more. And it’s all created by Sherman in the DUMBO studio she travels to from her high school in Queens or in her free time — just small details of running a thriving screen-printing business before you can legally vote.
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If you ask Sherman, she’ll tell you that cydn3yyy (which is actually her Depop username) was born out of boredom and a need to enable her own shopping addiction. It was 2020, and she’d seen a bunch of people on Depop selling screen-printed shirts. She had a passion for screen-printing herself, so she figured: Why not give it a try?
“I thought it would be a fun art project to start making my own clothes,” Sherman says. The designer admittedly doesn’t like to take herself and her own style too seriously, opting instead to exude a more “fun, silly version” of who she wants to be. The chance to do the same for others and create distinct pieces they could have in their closets appealed to her.
She listed a screen-printed T-shirt of a poster she’d snagged off Pinterest, and it sold immediately. She kept creating and listing products into the summer of 2020. Once she’d sold 300 pieces, Sherman realized it was time to turn her quarantine hobby into a legitimate business.
[Photo by @helsenfilm]
To her, the screen-printing she was doing felt like a Depop micro-trend that would eventually see its end. But Sherman didn’t want it to. She really liked to create clothes for people and designing specific images. But she wanted it to feel more like her and what she felt was cool, not an Internet-defined notion of “cool.” She ended up looking to her own wardrobe for inspiration, and what she saw was color — lots of it.
As Sherman perused the hues staring back at her in her closet, she realized, “That is not really what I’m making.” She resolved that, in order to make her brand feel like a truer depiction of herself and her own style, she needed to pivot her designs to be bigger, bolder, brighter, and, most importantly, more colorful. “When I see a color, I feel a different emotion, I think of a different time. Or when I think of a different time, I think of it as a color,” Sherman says. “I feel like it's a powerful way to evoke someone's attention or their feelings.”
She started consulting YouTube to figure out different printing approaches, bought a new Epson printer (along with special ink, paper, and a heat press), and began employing new method of screen-printing called sublimation to capture those colors, digitally placing her Photoshop designs on the clothing and making her designs come alive. She migrated her Depop stock and new stock over to a website under the same Depop username “cydn3yyy" (“I still to this day, kind of regret [the name]. I wish I did something edgy,” she says) and, by the beginning of summer 2020, the new cydn3yyy launched.
“It helps recreate this overall mood that I have — where I want it to be fun and playful, not too serious, and something that anyone can wear,” Sherman says about her pieces and printing process.
Because, while she strives to remain playful in her personal style, she wants to encourage others to do the same. In fact, that’s the kind of person she envisions wearing her designs — someone not afraid to venture outside their comfort zone to show off a slightly zanier side of themselves they feel a little apprehensive to showcase in other ways. Someone who also isn’t afraid to be bold, or someone just figuring out how to.
“I feel like a lot of the time, people are always really worried about their image, and it’s not that serious. Wear what you want to wear, do what you want to do,” Sherman says. “I know that some of the things that I'm making are a little bit out there for some people. They might not want to wear a shirt with eyeballs all over it. But for those who do, it's there.”
[Photo by @helsenfilm]
That's partially what made it so meaningful when Rodgrigo wore her clothes. As a deeply devoted fan of Rodrigo, she’d always felt a certain connection and admiration for the singer. And when Sherman started her business, she and her sister, who sometimes helps Sherman with cydn3yyy, always told each other that seeing Rodrigo wear one of her designs was the ultimate goal.
“At the end of the day, we’re not too different. I’m a teenage girl [today], she is too,” Sherman says. “We kind of have this connection now [that she’s worn one of my designs]. It made everything feel like it was a real possibility for me.”
What’s next for Sherman and cydn3yyy? Most recently, she got a manufacturer to make specific shirts tailored to the exact fit she wants. Like with any business, she wants to scale up and make cydn3yyy higher end, without becoming unattainable to other young people like her. Because at the end of the day, when she envisions the average cydn3yyy customer, the person staring back is someone similar to herself.