Apr 23, 2024
Gen Z-ers are beginning to enter the real world and start careers, and with that comes the generation’s affects on life and fashion. In the world of fast fashion, a business model focused on quickly producing high volumes of trendy clothing by using low-quality materials, such as polyester and other microplastics, brands are noticing as the new generation focuses more on sustainability. Thirty-six percent of Gen Z-ers buy new articles of fast fashion clothing at least once a month, and the age group averages $767 a year spent on fast fashion clothing. All that consumption comes with a noticeable environmental footprint. According to management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, for every five garments produced, the equivalent of three end up in a landfill. And, the incineration of textile waste in fast fashion is responsible for the release of 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gases a year, the study also found. Despite the waste stemming from fast fashion, brands are able to attract Gen Z shoppers with style and low prices. “Fast fashion brands intentionally try to influence these, you know, Gen Z students through using these social media,” said Sheng Lu, a fashion studies professor at the University of Delaware. “When you are still a student and you like to wear something unique, look unique and trendy, you know, financially more affordable to you. And this is exactly how these fast fashion brands make their products very attractive to this Gen Z population.” However, some Gen Z-ers are trying to buck the wasteful trend by promoting sustainable clothing in a variety of ways. Estella Struck, the CEO and founder of Viviene New York, has worked with Microsoft, NYU and TikTok to create sustainable marketing solutions focused on young adults. “The huge problem that Viviene New York is trying to help is helping these brands to target young people more effectively because people do not know where to start,” said Struck. “We are trying to build between those who want to, you know, contribute positively to our society and planet and future and the brands that are out there and are actually, you know, creating that future where that can happen.” Social media is where a lot of Gen Z may be picking up their fast fashion habit, but it may also be what helps them curb the habit. Jasmine Rogers is a Black and Mexican content creator who focuses on sustainable fashion and living. For Rogers, what first started as a love of thrifting and mending her clothes to make fun combinations turned into a career. Rogers started a blog-turned-Instagram-page called That Curly Top, in which she documents her journey through sustainable fashion. Her account now has more than 111,000 followers. “I’ve been able to find a community of people who really gravitate towards this optimism, and this colorful-ness and joy in the fashion space,” Rogers said. “But also bridging that with people who also care about the planet and people, and I think it’s my same ethos, where now I’ve been able to have a community of people who care about style, but don’t think that they have to compromise their values.” According to Lu, the increased efforts by Gen Z-ers to raise awareness of clothing sustainability will help lead to the fast fashion industry making more sustainable products. “The Gen Z students,” Lu said. “I’m sure they will apply their value in selecting their products, in driving the changes of these fashion companies, you know, to intentionally source more sustainable products or to pay more attention to the environmental impact of apparel production and consumption.” In doing so, Gen Z will help reduce waste in earth’s landfills. A move that will help generations to come. “For humans to survive, and our ecosystems to survive, and for our planet to survive, it’s absolutely necessary for us to do this,” Rogers said.
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