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Jennifer Hahn Masterson

Jennifer Hahn Masterson is a seasoned freelance visual designer and digital nomad, aiming to shape and enhance the user experience through considering...

Generation Z: What exactly does it expect from fashion?

Regarded as a changeable social phenomenon, fashion reflects generational attitudes, interests and behaviours. This is especially true with Generation Z which proves that social identity has to be observed as inseparable from fashion industry. Unlike their Millennial predecessors, the Gen Zers seem to challenge traditional fashion brands as well as marketing strategies. Here are the Gen Z expectations when it comes to fashion.

Comfort and cool looks go hand in hand

To feel comfortable yet look good is a fashion philosophy this generation sticks to. Gen Zers prefer comfy and easy-to-wear clothes that make them feel free and confident, so anything that makes their lives complicated in any way doesn’t stand a chance. The style dominated by flowy fabrics and pieces Gen Zers genuinely love is rooted in the street style and it has nothing to do with the put-together look that was generated by Millennials. Although they don’t wear perfectly tailored pieces, they want to instill their authentic style in the street.

The Mix-and-(mis)match approach to style and random aesthetics Gen Zers have cultivated, resulted in athleisure - athletic-inspired clothes with a hint of luxury that fits in different settings, from the gym to office.  Even though the catchy moniker was proclaimed a forbidden word by some fashion designers, it depicts ultimately convenient dress code many can’t withstand. Some of the famous athleisure brands are: Cotton Citizen, Supreme, Vans, Foo and Foo, Adidas. 

Standing out as a must

Although inclusivity is at the core of Gen Z ethos, this group’s members are pretty much exclusive when it comes to fashion. They scour the web for one-of-a-kind garments that will emphasise their uniqueness because it is of supreme importance for them to look different. This social generation that finds it normal to share their experiences via Instagram, Snapchat and Youtube feels reluctant to dress uniformly.

However, this non-pretentious set, more interested in self-expression than self-promotion, don’t tend to make their style mainstream. In this context, basic T-shirts, oversized sweatshirts and other low-key garments somehow mismatched in appealing outfits make a point. It is impossible for an outfit to go viral unless it conveys a message or sparks  a bit of controversy.                                                                                         

Since many traditional brands don’t live up to Gen Z’s expectations, they don’t hesitate to try their hands at creating their own brand. It is no surprise, then, that many Gen Zers start their own clothing lines after obtaining academic knowledge in fashion and design.

Forward-thinking curriculums, as IED Barcelona current bachelor course in fashion design, for instance, are designed to offer a comprehensive technical and cultural knowhow through progressive learning concepts from the fashion field. Students develop as individuals, becoming innovative and creative designers, in addition to establishing an aesthetic style relevant both to them and the international fashion industry.

Deep real-world connection

This globally connected group composed of confident individuals that believe in expressing their authentic selves, wants everyone (regardless of race, size and gender) to be equally represented by related brands. They feel comfortable in their own bodies and push back against mainstream beauty standards and size-0.

In order to stay up-to-date with the non-binary generation, the fashion industry has gone one step further. Based upon the gender-means-nothing statement, Gender-fluid clothing challenges the traditional perception of style and reveals ingenuity with innovative designers that are up to new generation’s needs.

More aware of the real world, Gen Zers don’t believe in the ultimate perfection. As such, they expect brands to tell the story of real people wearing real clothes in their everyday settings.

From this point of view, models and catwalks are out, influencers and social network are in. Mission-oriented brands created upon diversity will be able to move forward and win, while others are bound to lose the game.

Whatever your identity is, make the most of it

It seems that every generation, whether consciously or not, embraces fashion as a public alter ego. Gen Z’s fashion style epitomise their core values - simple, unique and non-gender garments that represent transparency, individuality and inclusion. They want their clothes to communicate with the world, so the brands which intend to stay ahead definitely shouldn’t take Gen Zers for granted.

Gen Z is coming of age, with money to spend and distinctive fashion preferences. Anyone who wants them to get taken with their product must deliver a truly authentic experience and immediate feedback on their needs – or they will take their business elsewhere.


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