The roles have reversed. Instead of the fashion industry prescribing clothing choices to Gen Z, this generation, born between 1997 and 2012, is influencing the trends the fashion world should be following.
This “disruptive generation” are clear about their mission – they care deeply about the environment and only support those who do too. This is a major wake-up call for the fashion world, which is one of the most polluting industries, generating more clothing waste per day than can fit inside the Empire State Building.
Gen Z is calling for change… and they practise what they preach, with more than 50% making purchases exclusively from brands that reflect what they care about – sustainability – and “cancelling” those that don’t…and the fashion industry knows that. Let’s take a deeper look:
- Cheap is no longer chic: Gen Zers know that fast fashion may be quick and affordable, but only 34% view these brands in a positive light. More than any other generation, they’re aware of the other costs that come with it. Through social media, they are exposing “greenwashing”, fully aware that approximately 40% of environmental claims made by brands could be misleading. And if brands are not being authentic, Gen Z will be the first to call them out publicly.
- Driving it forward with technology: Technology, specifically social media, has helped with the resurgence of vintage clothing and second-hand shopping, with hashtags like “#thrifttok” garnering millions of views every day. It’s being embraced by younger generations, giving birth to resale apps like ThredUp, Vinted and, the biggest one, Depop, that boasts over 30 million people signed up with 90% of them below the age of 26. These resale apps have empowered Gen Z to reshape the fashion landscape, demonstrating that sustainable fashion can be both stylish and profitable.
- Brands accept the challenge: Fashion brands like Zara are now using carbon recycling technology to create clothing lines made from recycled CO2 and captured carbon emissions, while Epson has pioneered dry fibre technology. Rather than recycling waste to use again in its original form, it creates new materials instead. Whilst the technology is already used commercially to recycle paper, it has been adapted to produce new non-woven re-fiberised fabric from used and discarded garments. In combining fashion, dry fibre technology and digital textile printing, it is helping to reduce the environmental impact and the overproduction issues plaguing the fashion industry. Nike recently introduced the “Nike One Box” concept, eliminating the need for an outer box when shipping shoes. This reduced packaging waste by 51% for single online orders.
For more on fashion, visit Get It Magazine.