There's a lot to say about fashion these days. Where fashion is headed especially within today's burgeoning teenage market is one conversation lots of people are having.
Besides melding current cultural trends in art, music, movies, science and tech with contemporary social and political thought and a menagerie of images from the runways of Paris, Milan, London, Tokyo, New York and Los Angeles, a fashion savvy someone needs digital connectivity (the likes of Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat) and to befriend a discerning 13 year old in order to feel the pulse of teen fashion. How designers design and retailers market for their fastest growing client base- today's Generation Z- is a journey with a smartphone and all new rules.
Generation Z(ers) - post Millennials, born mid-90's to mid-2000 - are emerging onto the fashion scene with smartphones in hand and a strong sense of who they are and where they're headed. This group's the most socially conscience, tech savvy generation ever. They're smart, sophisticated and phenomenally connected to the world - using social media as their most important means to get information, interact and communicate. They think on their own, have an entrepreneurial spirit, influence others (peers and people in high places- especially advertisers, fashion designers, policy makers) and favor a collaborative “we before me” mentality. For sure, they move at a pace and in directions that are causing the world to take notice.
By 2020, Generation Z will make up 40 percent of North American spending and 60 percent of these teens will buy brands that support causes that they believe in. Well over 80% don't care about designer labels, but search for fashions that sell and deliver what they want in innovative ways. With these strong stats behind them, no one can argue that this generation is a self-reliant force deserving of respect and recognition.
Even though today's young people are remarkable, not everything they face is remarkably perfect, though. Because of their rapidly changing world, technical stimuli, their eight-second attention spans, collective attitude and the constant bombardment of messages and information, Generation Zers can suffer from a sense of feeling lost and isolated in a sea of so much commotion, which often lacks human connections. Therefore, individuality, self expression, personal uniqueness and a desire to be noticed are huge essentials among today's young generation. It's no wonder that up there, with all their ongoing interests and accomplishments, is the tremendous value they place on being noticed as individuals. This sense of personal identity is where fashion plays, to a degree, a meaningful and cathartic role, since clothing is a powerful form of communication, personal expression and social connection.
What teenagers choose to wear and how they determine things to be worn (buttoned, backwards, mismatch, untucked or polished) are part of a bigger picture- the crafting of their brand, a personal statement - that reflects their spirit, symbolizes their voice and many times indicates a lifestyle. In fact, those who experiment with print mixing, playing around with proportions and adding the most unconventional accessories to their outfits are often trendsetters themselves - inventing their own styles, making a name for their self on Instagram and becoming subculture icons and fashion leaders among peers. Their personal identification or style can be a compilation of eclectic clothes, heavy makeup, piercing and tattoos or as simple as the t-shirt, bag, shoes and jeans they elect to wear on a given day- just four simple items- integral to one's identity and the making of a personal statement. With lots of style options out there, coupled with a pervasive non-judgmental attitude, this generation also boasts of style fluidity. What they wear one day does not have to be how they identify fashionably the next day.
As these creative, innovative assemblers of clothing devise unique pairings, everyone of them send their looks to friends through a plethora of apps hoping for a thousand “likes” and lots more followers. It's this cyberspace activity that has catapulted the five to seven (depending who you talk to) traditional clothing personalities into a burgeoning variety of Style Tribes and has made many young people become designers in their own right, blazing fashion trails without any input from designers. It's young people that have elevated streetwear into a Generation Z version of couture- perfecting what used to be everyday clothes into a preferred sick look that melds style and comfort with a hip twist of sophistication.
Never before has a generation led the way in fashion- owning it - and showing 7th Avenue how it's done. It's galvanic- a needed change- and Generation Zers are today's game changers.