Almost 25 per cent of global population fall under GenZ category consumers. In developed countries as well as in urban pockets of emerging economies like India, Gen Z has the unique advantage of being the first generation of digital natives who are supremely confident of themselves and are genuinely concerned about climate change, sustainability and of course having experienced a two-year long deadly pandemic at a relatively young age. Thus this generation can be termed as more pragmatic, more realistic and hence their growing distance with fast fashion as they deem it wasteful, describes a recent Business of Fashion (BoF) report ‘Gen Z and Fashion in the Age of Realism in the US’.
A generation of socially aware consumers
Moreover, to this generation that is in search of individual expressions of oneself, fast fashion also represents cloned looks. It seems American Zoomers are predisposed towards fashion as their top favourite entertainment, followed by dining and video gaming. Brands like Abercrombie & Fitch generated high appeal with association to social causes and sustainability, brands like fast fashion icon Shein scored low as a favourite brand. However, the ugly point of affordability seems to tilt buying favour more towards the latter.
In unprompted awareness among the respondents, alongside popular Nike and Adidas stands the luxe Gucci, winning hearts with relevant collaborations. As the global fashion industry inches towards 2025 to become worth $360 billion, nothing is more important than having the buy-in of Gen Z.
Fast fashion and Gen Z
A study conducted in the last quarter of 2022 at Sheffield Business School showcases conflicting data as presented by British Academy of Management. Having interviewed a sample of British Gen Z students, it was found that women were more likely to espouse the cause of wasteful fast fashion than men but when it came to buying fast fashion items, women tended to buy much more than men. While 63 per cent respondents expressed their concern of social and environmental impact of fast fashion, 17 per cent of respondents confessed to buying at least one fast fashion item per week whereas 62 per cent admitted to buying one fast fashion item once a month.
The research found the dichotomy between being pro-sustainability but indulging in fast fashion was simply the lower value of such clothing items and the social media driven need to be on trend. This begets the question that is Gen Z prepared to walk the talk? Fast fashion Shein’s unrivalled success story in the US alone indicates probably not.
The Indian context
In India, Gen Z is about 27 per cent of its population and their choices and preferences are going to dictate fashion’s success as a sector in India. A collaborated study by Ipsos-Isobar found 78 per cent will personalize to look good and 79 per cent will make their own fashion statement stand out. According to Senior VP of Marketing Reliance Brands, Deepika Gehani, Gen Z doesn’t just decide on price points but also differentiating flavours brands represent in their collections.
Indeed sustainable products are catching up among urban Zoomers with 60 per cent respondents in the study clearly preferring international brands collaboration with Indian designers and artisans to showcase a strong Indian identity, which is radically different to the millennials’ desire for a global representation. Almost 68 per cent respondents stated they preferred brands that gave back to the community and brands that upheld social causes.