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By Hein Kaiser


Recycling fashion is my mantra, says singer Nicky Jean

"A growing number of Gen Z-ers are turning to vintage clothing, or previously loved garments, to supplement their wardrobes and add character to their look."

Just like the love generation changed the world in the ’60s, each generation since seems to have been a ramp up to the next set of global game changers, Generation Z. Cape Town singer, composer and model Nicky Jean doesn’t just sing about changing the world, she moves audiences with her exceptional performances and nightingale-like voice. 

2024 is the year in which Jean plans to conquer the world, and she’ll be looking good while she’s at it. The Generation Z-er said that her wardrobe is her first refuge when dressing for success, for a soupcon of sexy or simply a lazy day at home and strolling about. For her, it’s all about mixing and matching, taking a step back from trends and recycling old but good stuff, is what it’s all about. 

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Jean’s tips for a versatile wardrobe

She shared the importance of a versatile wardrobe, and hauled out a metallic dress, hot right now, whether it’s dressed up or down.  “The metallic dress,” she said, “is just the perfect dress for a multi-purpose day”. She said Gen Z seeks practicality in fashion, the ability to transition from one setting to another seamlessly, and that’s what sets this little number apart from others on the rail. 

Her approach to fashion is not just about aesthetics, but functionality. She compared her wardrobe to a “Lego set,” where each piece can be mixed and matched, creating endless possibilities. She values versatility and sustainability over fast fashion.

“Back in the ’90s, a trend was more a trend,” she shared, and contrasted it with today’s fashion, where trends have what she called “little branches”, and everyone adapts them into their own personal style.

This shift from rigid trend-following to a more personalised approach is a hallmark of Gen Z fashion, she added. However, popular culture still plays a significant role in seasonal colours and cuts; the Barbie movie ushered in a season filled with pink. “High top sneakers have made a comeback too,” said Jean. She said that beyond comfort, it’s the sustained revert to the ’90s that spawned this revival. 

Jean also said that a growing number of Gen Z-ers are turning to vintage clothing, or previously loved garments, to supplement their wardrobes and add character to their look.

“I have a denim jacket that I bought at a thrift store a few years back, and I have never seen another version or incarnation of a similar item that’s just so perfect in any way. It’s fit, the cut. There is really something to be said for digging into second hand clothes and discovering some incredible gems,” she added. 

Why you should recycle fashion

And, having said that, Jean stressed the importance of recycling. Her generation is split down the middle of the environmental argument, she suggested.

“Some people simply don’t care, while others, on my side of the equation, feel deeply about conserving the planet and nature.”

She is a great proponent of recycling wardrobe and not discarding fast fashion, which she said many of her peers simply buy online and discard.

“We should be saving it, reusing, or giving it away to people less fortunate. Fashion should not be adding to the landfill landscape.”

Social media as well as changing norms and values in society has also changed the way that Gen Z-ers dress. And while Madonna legitimised corsets and undies as outerwear, it’s really Jeans’ generation that’s taken showing skin to a new level. It’s done less lad-mag these days, and more subtly, and with a touch of class. 

“Things are much less conservative now, but also in more measured ways. Bikinis and swimwear, for example, have become acceptable paired with jeans or skirts when going out. In some ways, less is more, and suggestion as opposed to blatancy is the name of the game,” she noted.

Generation Z’s choices reflect a changing value set, of a more conscious way of living and quiet rebellion, a way to change the world, in plain sight. For Jean’s artistic sensibilities, it just makes sense that the message of her generation siphons through every aspect, including fashion. 

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