Generation Z has grown up on social media. They have had minimal privacy and total awareness of their friends and peers. With respect to fashion this has led to insanely low attention spans, decreased brand loyalty, and a desire to be the most fashionable.
Over the relatively short timeline of Gen Z’s life they have seen flip phones come and go from style, Snapchat overtake Facebook overtake MySpace in popularity, and numerous celebrities transition in and out of stardom. Obsolesce is the new norm and to avoid being obsolete companies and brands need to consistently be innovating. If you aren’t disrupting, you are getting disrupted.
This constant evolution of fashion to push the boundaries of relevance has created a “fashion forward” climate where staying on top of the latest trends and offering the absolute best means of self-expression is key. While these innovations are at the heart of Gen Z’s favorite fashion items, they manifest themselves in a variety of forms. These are the top 5 fashion forward trends for Gen Z.
- Fast Fashion
Zara and H&M have turned the fashion world on its head and created an entirely new means of selling clothing. Rather than rolling out 4 sets of styles a year, Zara and H&M want to sell as many clothes as possible for the smallest margin possible as fast as possible. While this may sound like a simple task, Zara has invented a complex supply chain system with integrated data analytics that allows the company to go from ideation to product on shelf in just 2 weeks. The next fastest is H&M at 6 weeks.
Zara’s just-in-time delivery system means that every 2 weeks the store has entirely new merchandise and so Gen Z has a reason to go to Zara 26 times per year, rather than the industry standard 4 selling seasons. Furthermore, since consumers know the product is stocked in low quantity and will be gone in a matter of weeks, they think less and allow impulse to push the sale.
Generation Z is tired of clothing functioning as a walking billboard for the companies they buy from. Due to decreased brand loyalty, no longer is a massive brand logo cool. Furthermore, the wave of minimalistic design in all aspects of life, notably app and web design, means that sleek and clean aesthetic beats out loud and gaudy style.
Shoe companies such as Allbirds and SUAVS have pushed the movement to remove company branding from their footwear and sell comfortable shoes with simple designs. These shoes have been received with massive response among Generation Z and particularly Silicon Valley.
The series of Fashion Weeks in 2017 have all had a similar thread: embroidery. Not only does embroidery offer a unique design style that has been absent from fashion for a while, but it gives Gen Z the chance to personalize and customize their clothing.
Since fashion has become a means of self-expression for this generation and their choices will be scrutinized on social media, embroidery and customization allow for a distinctly personal style that other people cannot knock-off. Fashion companies need to start to roll out more and more options for tailoring products into individualized pieces rather than parts of a bulk manufacturing run.
2016 was the year of collaborations with Adidas alone releasing almost 50 different footwear collaborations with various influencers and designers. The perfect collaboration combines two distinct brand images and creates an entirely fresh image. These collaborations are typically in limited release and so fit in tune with the need for social status and unique self-expression.
The best collaboration is the Supreme and Louis Vuitton release. Combining the pinnacles of streetwear and high fashion united two of the worlds Gen Z loves. Even more so, Supreme and Louis Vuitton have both made their iconic imagery status symbols in the young society and as this collaboration merged the two imageries, fans went crazy.
Hip-hop culture and street artists such as Banksy have given rise to the streetwear craze. Whereas Generation X would look at graffiti and see vandalism, Gen Z see art. The kids of today love urban life and streetwear brands have shown that fashion is not limited to haute couture runway shows.
The streetwear trend is also one of the best examples of the power of influencer marketing, since all of the people Gen Z cares about are wearing streetwear, they want to wear streetwear.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.