Life, Style

How Gen Z Differs From Millennials (The Generation That Gave Rise To Fast Fashion)

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For many years now, market research has been carefully studying Generation Z, observing their behaviours and preferences and discovering that they have a very different relationship with companies than their predecessors. The emerging Millennial vs. Generation Z debate wouldn’t be complete without delving into the fashion industry. But first, here’s a breakdown of the two generation’s.

* Millennials – born between 1981 – 1996

** Generation Z – born between 1996 – 2011

For decades brands have been communicating their “message” through advertisement; hence, corporations with the largest budgets could have consequently had the greatest impacts in magazines, on TV, and billboards. However, with the rise of social media and the internet, Generation Z are really digging deeper into brand philosophy and what they truly stand for, and this goes way beyond the overly photoshopped prints they try to project. It seems that Gen Z are a force to be reckoned with.

For the most part, Gen Z prefer companies that communicate with their customers in an open and transparent manner. Everlane, for example, promotes ethically made fashion, offering insight into how products are being made, the running factories across the globe and the people involved. It is the authenticity and transparency of this information that is so highly valued by the younger generation.

So, how are Generation Z getting it so right?

Some would argue that Millennials are the generation that gave rise to the fast-fashion problem. This is true, as when once the economy was thriving and healthy, Millennials would spend their hard-earned cash on brands such as Forever 21, H&M and Zara (to name a few), thus fueling our retail pollution. The difference between the two generations in this day in age is that the teens of today are less interested in big brands, and even their loyalty to those brands seems to be non-existent. According to American Eagle Outfitters, Gen Z aren’t spending as much as their predecessors, and are consequently less brand-conscious. Likewise, if a brand appears to better match their values and morals regarding sustainability and the environment, then they are more likely to switch to that brand, even if it comes with a price.

Millennials are apt to dress in a way they believe would help them to succeed within the workplace (think conventional, clean-cut shirts, mid-length skirt). Research shows that Gen Z take a different approach, valuing comfort and function over looking the part. They believe that everyone should have the freedom to throw on outfits that make them feel comfortable and relaxed all day long. After all, what is the point of looking great if you’re not feeling it? Hello oversized shirts, good-bye skin tight dresses.

 

Generation Z strives for individuality; the on-the-go digital cohort are adept at sharing and revealing their lives on social media, and across platforms such as Instagram and Youtube. Steering away from the big brands and seeking their own individuality go hand in hand, Gen Zer’s are effortless in their approach to making casual look cool and expects brands to represent a credible view of how people wear real clothes. The power of social media has Gen z tuning in to their relatable influencers (if not their peers) when deciding what clothes to buy, and definitely not looking at models in magazines.

In other words, embracing diversity and supporting conscientious processes such as sustainable manufacturing and ethical supply chains are key to keeping Gen Z happy customers.

It seems like Generation Z are ticking all the boxes when it comes to gearing their beliefs towards a more sustainable fashion future, but one question on my mind is how are the youth of today able to afford the sustainable brands that come with a hefty price tag?

Well, it’s quite simple, it seems they are doing a great job at avoiding the pitfalls Millennials walked straight into. Gen Z are careful spenders: they don’t just stand out in terms of how they relate to the fashion industry, but also by spending differently. Reports show they are saving far earlier than older generations; 60% already having a savings accounts and 71% claiming they are more focused on saving for their future.

It seems to me that they are financially cautious and kudos to them!

To sum, it is clear that the current and generations to follow will continue to change the global business landscape through greater consumer activism than their older cohort, Millennials. It is inspiring to see that together people really can make a positive change towards a brighter, more sustainable future.

 

Please comment below with your favourite sustainable brands, I would love to check them out!

 

 

 

Victoria Bennett

Victoria Bennett

Contributor at Peaceful Dumpling
Originally from the UK, Victoria is a self-proclaimed food enthusiast armed with a BSC in Psychology, who has been on the road for 18 months. When she’s not trying out new vegan dishes, she can be found sipping green tea or practicing yoga on her balcony.
  • laura

    Are you joking me with this post? Exactly who do you think is RUNNING the companies that Gen Z are buying from? Maybe it’s millennials who are TAKING the initiative to provide a world where these conversations can be had. Maybe because millennials grew up in a world where Forever 21 and H&M were a thing and educated themselves into BUILDING a better world. And excuse me about “pitfalls” the millennials fell into? Who graduated college in the midst of the recession? Who has devastating student loan debt and graduated with degrees only not to be able to find jobs to help them start off with a strong financial footing? This piece is incredibly one sided. It’s abundantly clear which generation this author cares about. More blogs like this and peaceful dumpling can consider me unsubscribed.

    • Victoria Bennett

      Hi Laura,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my article and provide some feedback.

      So to address your points; the “companies” that Gen z are buying from I do refer to in my article… (Everlane) for example is a brand that Gen z are more inclined to buy from as they state their brand philosophy with clear communication and transparency, other small start-up brands found through Instagram are another example, Gen z are more inclined to make purchases and buy into brands whose philosophy and motifs’ are engulfed in being more sustainable and overall happier for our environment.

      When I refer to H&M and Zara etc I am talking about their lack of transparency and how it is much needed in todays’ society, if they want the generation of today to buy into their products. It is through mass production we don’t see the true extent of labour and working conditions, how much time goes into creating our $10 skirt, how much they truly get paid, and by making that purchase what kind of behaviour we are promoting.

      Yes, I agree with you that Millennials now are educating themselves on what is considered to be more sustainable and what isn’t… but that’s really down to the fact we have to if we want to preserve our planet. It would be unfair to say the blog is one sided, more, it is incredibly impressive to look at the statistics (as a millennial )and see how the steps Gen Z are taking are slowly but surely reducing our retail pollution.

      I myself, fall into the category of a “millennial”, I myself have student loan debt looming over my head, and I also, before I educated myself was a contributor to the fast fashion problem. I simply have chosen to step away from those “brands” and look a little closer to home.

      Best,
      Victoria

      • laura

        And my point is that your article is incredibly skewed negatively toward millennials when millennials are the ones creating the brands GenZ is buying from. You saying:

        “Yes, I agree with you that Millennials now are educating themselves on what is considered to be more sustainable and what isn’t… but that’s really down to the fact we have to if we want to preserve our planet. It would be unfair to say the blog is one sided, more, it is incredibly impressive to look at the statistics (as a millennial )and see how the steps Gen Z are taking are slowly but surely reducing our retail pollution.”

        Makes no sense at all. Everlane was made by millennial FOUNDERS. It’s not like GenZ popped up out of no where and is creating these businesses that millennials are all the sudden out of nowhere being not educated. Millennials are building these business and huge props to GenZ for also responding and buying and making it so these businesses become the new norm. But your entire article is negative on millennials in completely unfactual ways.

        “Some would argue that Millennials are the generation that gave rise to the fast-fashion problem. This is true, as when once the economy was thriving and healthy, Millennials would spend their hard-earned cash on brands such as Forever 21, H&M and Zara (to name a few), thus fueling our retail pollution.”

        Let’s look at some quotes from FORBES (https://www.forbes.com/sites/sanfordstein/2019/02/10/how-could-changing-consumer-trends-affect-fast-fashion-leaders-hm-and-zara/#222719936f48):
        “At the same time there is growing evidence of pushback by both Millennials and Gen Z, as awareness of the massive ecological damage that this throw-away fashion mindset is having on the planet increases.”
        “This has led to growing evidence that both Millennials and Gen Z are pushing for a new level of transparency around the ecological footprint and entire life cycle of all products. And according to a recent Nielsen pole, 73% of Millennials have demonstrated a willingness to pay more for products that are sustainable.”

        So yes… Millennials were the main people being marketed and targeted during fast fashion but they ALONG with GenZ are buying more sustainable products and in fact Everlane which you mentioned is RUN by millennials. You could argue the GenZ didn’t even have the opportunity to be a buying cohort during the rise of fast fashion so you can’t compare apples to apples the way millennials responded to the information, selections and marketing done to them vs. the resources, information, marketing, choices, and conversation available to GenZ today.

        And then your next section:
        “Millennials are apt to dress in a way they believe would help them to succeed within the workplace (think conventional, clean-cut shirts, mid-length skirt). Research shows that Gen Z take a different approach, valuing comfort and function over looking the part. They believe that everyone should have the freedom to throw on outfits that make them feel comfortable and relaxed all day long. After all, what is the point of looking great if you’re not feeling it? Hello oversized shirts, good-bye skin tight dresses.”

        Okay so first of all, why is dressing for success a bad thing? Why are you painting it as such a negative thing? It makes no sense.

        But also, maybe cite your research because you are 100% wrong. I’m a millennial and my friends are millennials and your statement is not reflective of any one I know. In fact, if you look at the millennial generation, you could argue that millennials and GenX gave rise to a more comfortable fashion in the workplace. Did GenZ start tech companies? Because if I am not mistake every other generation has been dressing casually in the office before GenZ even entered the workforce. Enter stage left Mark Zuckerberg… a millennial.

        “Well, it’s quite simple, it seems they are doing a great job at avoiding the pitfalls Millennials walked straight into. Gen Z are careful spenders: they don’t just stand out in terms of how they relate to the fashion industry, but also by spending differently. Reports show they are saving far earlier than older generations; 60% already having a savings accounts and 71% claiming they are more focused on saving for their future.”

        And you never addressed this point. Again, crippling student loan debt, unemployment, and a recession is not something Millennials casually sauntered into because they are obsessed with fast fashion…

        Your article is completely one sided. I am all for Genz and love that GenZ is continuing to move the ball forward with more sustainable choices. But your perspective and what you have put out here is that millennials are money wasting, polluting, non-savers who can’t think for themselves, just dress a way people told them too… it’s insulting. GenZ is great, Millennials are great, GenX is great etc. We all have our won battles within our generations and it looks to me like MILLENNIALS are providing other generations coming after us an opportunity to continue to grow.

  • Erin Rae

    Terribly written article. The author seems intent on painting millennials as oblivious and uncool, but in the meantime it was millennials who laid the groundwork for Gen Z to even be able to make such choices about fashion and individuality. Blaming millennials alone for our “fast fashion problem” and “retail pollution” is extremely irresponsible and ignorant. As if millennials simply didn’t have the social awareness and grace to be ethical consumers? I don’t care if the author is a millennial, she clearly doesn’t think much of her own generation as a whole. The truth is millennials were the first to begin questioning fashion business practices. Millennials have been blamed for ages for “killing” unethical and outdated businesses by being mindful consumers. Millennials walked so Gen Z could run, and that’s a fact. And I honestly don’t know any millennials who dress as conservatively as this author describes. Just a bad article all-around.

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