Is there a reason why pushing the ethical fashion agenda has been such an uphill struggle and is there a naturally evolving solution on the horizon?
We’re sure you have all heard the huge sweeping generalisations about the behaviours of particular generations. Could it actually be true that the year you were born determines your behaviour and how you perceive the world? We think there is something to it.
The Baby-boomers (1946 – 1964) were flush with job opportunities, dressed to impress and worked unreasonably hard. The millennials (1980 – 2000) were demanding, short-term focused and wanted fashion fast. Now we have Generation Z (1990 onwards) who apparently have something else to offer.
Despite their current young age, this is the generation us ethical fashion advocates should have our eyes on.
Here are the four main reasons the real hope of a global ethical fashion revolution rests with Gen Z:
1. They desire meaningful experiences.
These free-spirited individuals won’t take a job for money, they take it because the work is meaningful and gives back to society or enhances their personal development. They don’t feel their ‘purpose’ here is to mindlessly consume and because of this they are natural slow fashion advocates with fewer thoughtless desires and a focus on experiences over material goods.
To top it off, they value socially responsible partnerships like this wonderful example of the partnership between Epona Ltd (part of the Fair Wear Foundation) and NUS. Epona Ltd produce over 750,000 units of clothing each year for student unions. Isn’t that phenomenal? Proof that consumers of the future care about sustainability and the positive impact producers are having on cotton farmers and workers alike.
2. They are the first generation who cannot rely on hefty inheritance.
Millennials were more likely to have inheritance to look forward to if their baby-boomer parents spent wisely and secured some lovely final-salary pensions, but generation Z will not be blessed with the same gift. Their parents have struggled through financial crashes, soaring property prices and less-than-attractive interest rates.
All in all, they are growing up with less spare cash and more awareness of the value of money which in turns means they quite naturally don’t ‘need’ more than generations before them. They don’t splash the cash and they feel the pinch of every penny. Bring on a reduction in the ridiculous number of clothes clogging up our landfills and wardrobes!
3. It is trendy to #liveauthentic
With instagram accounts like @socalitybarbie gaining 1.3 million followers, it is clear to see that it is oh-so-trendy to be authentic, live authentic and make fun of those who are not. The #liveauthetic tag boasts close to a whopping 9 million posts on Instagram alone! Socality Barbie doesn’t even wear her usual over-the-top fancy gowns and revealing mini dresses, she has a causal, limited wardrobe with earth tones and she even wears the same pieces more than once. Whoa, that is soooooo cool! 😉 It has even become cool to buy second hand clothes (vintage coolness) and brag about it. Oh yes! That is just one of the ways you can #liveauthentic
4. They cannot be fooled.
As Havas People explained in one of Katie’s delicious corporate breakfast meetings (yup, we both still have corporate day jobs!), Gen Z are ‘digital natives’; they aspire towards freedom and flexibility, they’re connected 24/7, they have a global mind-set, they are entrepreneurial and they use social media as a reference.
Therefore…..you cannot fool these information rich young-lings and if they don’t like something, they will make sure the whole world knows about it! Therefore we can look forward to exposed clothing factories, purple lakes filled with harmful chemicals, stats showing abuse of female workers. You name it, they will find it and as we all know, knowledge is power, and power forces change. Thank goodness the next generation crave power for good.
There you have it folks! Of course a lot of the above can be said for others things in life relating to this generation (jobs, food, property etc.), not just clothing, but we have a lot of bright, beaming hope for years to come. What we all blog about, talk about, shout about may well gain more and more traction because it’s the right thing to do, but also because we have a wonderful generation (who are currently hardly even teenagers at the moment!) who naturally, innately believe in the things we are highlighting today. Brace yourselves for the flow of feel-good human beings taking over our beautiful planet!