What Fashion Can Learn From Gen-Z’s Approach to Gender

When Timothée Chalamet wore a slim-cut jumpsuit with a bright red halter top to the 2022 Venice Film Festival, the 26-year-old movie star and his outfit designed by Haider Ackermann turned heads. As gender-subverting couture progressed, this was yet another memorable moment. Ignore gender stereotypes.

This is a cultural change that Gen Z can make a big impact on. Born between the mid-1990s and his 2010s, this generation has mostly spoken out on social media about their opposition to being trapped in a binary world of men and women. “Our generation has dismantled the idea that gender is either male or female,” says Nate, 22, head of talent at Juv Consulting, which advises companies on connecting with Gen Z. Jones said. “I think clothing is just one area he inevitably touches. [essential to our every day] When [shopping] At this point it is still mostly gendered experiences. “

Even veterans of fluid fashion design are seeing the influence of Gen Z. “I think things have changed a lot in the last few years,” said designer Alejandro Gomez Palomo, who founded the gender-neutral label Palomo Spain in 2015.And a pearl necklace, and he [a] A completely straight boy. … [A few years ago] It’s like, ‘Only gays, only the communities I’m in’. “

Across the fashion industry, it marks a significant shift in direction. Generation Z is now wielding a significant part of the fashion industry. Gen Z is not only the largest generation ever, with his 25% of the world population, but also spending power. According to BoF Insights, Gen Z consumers have an estimated $360 billion in spending power in the US alone. BoF’s Research and Analysis Division.

But as brands and retailers are realizing, transforming the gender-specific shopping experience and building fluid fashion offerings that resonate with this generation is no easy task. Our relationship with neutrality can be vague at best. For example, Gen Z isn’t necessarily looking for gender-neutral clothing. Gen Z prioritizes other factors, such as affordability, when shopping for clothing. However, Gen Z is concerned with inclusivity and having the freedom to shop across gender categories in fashion, demonstrating their willingness to wear clothing designed for another gender. As such, Gen Z may not be explicitly looking for gender-neutral fashion and may choose to interact with brands in a less restrictive way than past generations.

Juv’s Jones said:

sparking the trend

Just a generation or two ago, the world was different. So were attitudes about gender fluidity. But as Gen Z started growing up, things changed. By 2016, his Wunderman Thompson survey, a marketing communications agency, found that 56% of Gen Z consumers bought clothes for him, regardless of gender.

That same year, 17-year-old Jaden Smith, now a Gen Z style icon, wore a skirt from Louis Vuitton’s women’s collection for Louis Vuitton’s global campaign. Since then, IndependentHis brands have expanded into gender-neutral brands, including Palomos Spain, Ludovic de Saint-Sernin and Telfer, along with Raul Lopez and Shane Oliver’s 2007 launch of the forward-thinking Hood His By His Air. It started getting more attention with fluid messages. Streetwear also entered the game as the broader shift towards casualization began, with wardrobe essentials such as spacious hoodies and mini-his cross-body his-shoulder-his-bags. His streetwear items are now included.

Generation Z has many roles, including beauty influencer Bretman Rock, who rose to YouTube fame as a teenager in 2015, and gender-nonconforming designer Harris Reed, who was recently appointed creative director for Nina Ricci. I’ve been inspired by models. For role models, wearing gender-neutral clothing or dressing gender-fluid is perhaps not as radical as it is for parents. It’s just part of how you want to live.

Generation Z is translating this into fashion in their own way. Rather than waiting for brands to show the next big trend, they are actively participating in new style ideas and seeing themselves as co-creators. Director Steve Dool told BoF Insights: generation. “

Today trends often start on social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and BeReal. Inspired by actor Diane Keaton’s menswear-inspired style, Grandma on the Shore was her wardrobe in films like Annie Hall (1977) and Something’s Gotta Give (2003). but has become a cultural phenomenon in 2022. Launched by her Lex Nicoleta on TikToker, not her campaign for the magazine or brand.

Several hashtags on TikTok now curate user-generated videos characterized by gender fluidity or gender neutrality, such as #femboy, which had over 3 billion global views as of the end of October 2022. I’m here. #genderneutral is over 223 million and #mascgirl is her over 66 million.

brand response

Over the past decade, brands have tried to understand what works and what doesn’t in a fluid fashion shopping experience across price points. For example, in Palomo Spain, Gómez has been on a multi-year journey as one of the first high-end, genderless labels to catch the eye of the industry and display labels on shop floors. The department store initially struggled to decide whether to display Palomo Spain clothing in the women’s section, the men’s section, or both. In the end, the men’s division was won by Palomo Spain. The store then also asked for changes to accommodate female customers. “It was really hard for us to change the pattern, the shape and everything, because [the stores] I wanted [garments] It’s for girls and comes in a smaller size,” he recalled, adding that he didn’t want the label to be a stereotype. “I make clothes that everyone can wear. …I always like to play with the masculine/feminine, and of course, that tension attracts womenswear clients as well as menswear clients.

In the wholesale channel, brands had to find a gender-specific middle ground and address male and female customers separately. and opened the Palomo Spain studio for women in Madrid. Because it turns out that the majority of the brand’s female customers prefer to try on.

Another fashion brand that faces the real problem of fluid fashion is Eytys. Founded in 2013 by Jonathan Hirschfeld and Max Schiller, the Stockholm-based brand began selling platform unisex sneakers before expanding into clothing, online and three stores (two in Stockholm and his one in London). stores). “Unisex has always been a prerequisite for Eytys products. “As our collection grows, it makes sense that all our products continue to have a unisex philosophy and not limit our customers.”

The company now sells its collections in brick-and-mortar stores based on looks rather than gender.Eytys’ website, which is often available in extended size runs, has detailed size charts for all body types. The products that come with are photographed with both male and female models that reflect the racial diversity and different identities of their customers.

Schiller admitted that the company’s business model might have been easier to execute with separate menswear and womenswear categories due to challenges in production, merchandising and marketing. We can see that the effort and costs involved are starting to pay off,” he said. For example, Benz jeans, the brand Eytys’ take on the baggy jeans of the 1990s, are equally purchased by customers who identify as both men and women, whereas boots and dress shoes purchased primarily by female customers tend to be male. Gaia boots with high heels in EU sizes 43 to 45 are “always out of stock,” he added.

This fluid fashion trajectory hasn’t been lost in retail. For example, UK department store Selfridges buys from brands where products are available in extended sizes for male, female and non-binary body types. The retailer also has both male and female mannequins in each department. “Our approach is to make the shopping experience as natural as possible,” said Sebastian Manes.

mixing and matching

Industries also approach marketing differently, often valuing general inclusivity over gender neutrality. Craig Brommers, chief marketing officer of popular Generation Z brand American Eagle Outfitters, said at a recent webinar that the brand deliberately “looseened” its photo briefs so that creatives were more about gender and style. I explained that I was able to freely combine

Brommers added that AEO decided not to explicitly market it as a gender-neutral brand. “Right or wrong, we’re not proud of this because we feel it’s an individual choice and something that happens naturally,” he said. I’m sure there are other brands talking more about… [but] What we say: You are you and we are glad you are you.

In many ways, Gen Z sees gender-fluid fashion as more than just a product. “We think about the brands and companies that we buy from, the teams that deliver them, the faces behind and in front of the camera, and everything it takes to get that product out there.” It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the middle of a long time, and I’m going to enter the market, so i think it’s important to meet [us] where are we

This article first appeared on State of Fashion 2023is an in-depth report on the global fashion industry, jointly published by BoF and McKinsey & Company.

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