Over the last few years, designer brands and luxury conglomerates have set their sights on winning over one of the most coveted pieces of the fashion pie: Gen Z. Millennials are still the largest consumers of fashion, and baby boomers yield the largest spending power, but Gen Z has quickly become all anyone in corporate boardrooms can talk about. Aged 12 to 25, Gen Z is poised to become the fastest-growing generation as it pertains to spending power, leveraging around $360 billion, according to the Business of Fashion, so it’s no surprise to anyone that the industry has taken notice. Since before industry leaders were paying attention, we’ve had an annual tradition of ours that allows us to dive a little deeper into the younger generation—Gen Z Says.
Formerly, it was a series where we exclusively tapped young insiders to discuss what’s cool in the fashion space, but we’ve now taken it to the masses. While billionaire CEOs and marketing executives think they know what Gen Z wants, we’re here to break down the truth. Over the last two weeks, Who What Wear sat down with industry experts, leaders, and over 200 Gen Z readers to hear their takes on the fashion choices they’re making right now, from where they’re spending their money (and where they aspire to shop from) to what exactly is influencing those late-night purchases and hauls. The proof is in the numbers, and as we’re among the next gen ourselves, we were able to put together a concise report of what we actually care about, from us to you. Welcome to the new and expanded Gen Z Says.
This year more than ever, it feels like brands are finally taking strides to appeal to the new, young, hip crowd on the scene. In an effort to grow with the generation, brands of all sizes are investing time and money into capturing their undivided attention. Miu Miu and Tory Burch have tapped sub-25 celebrities like Sydney Sweeney and Zaya Wade for campaigns and runway debuts. Emma Chamberlain has made the shift from quirky and sporadic YouTube vlogs to front-row and red carpet appearances. Both Madelyn Cline and Jenna Ortega rose to superstardom after their Netflix series and movie roles, working with the likes of Valentino and Versace as they go.
The Lyst Index, which is the industry’s quarterly report that ranks fashion’s hottest brands and products, cited both Gen Z and TikTok virality as reasons for multiple brands’ successful ranking in both 2023 Q1 and 2022’s end-of-year data. On the corporate level, luxury giant LVMH announced in 2021 it was planning to recruit 25,000 people under 30 by the end of 2022, proving that looking from the outside isn’t enough. They want the inside scoop.
These days, it’s almost impossible not to pay attention to the path the younger generation is forging. If there’s one thing we learned from the style discourse Portia from The White Lotus caused, it’s that there’s a lot we have yet to learn about the next gen’s place in the fashion world—snarky think pieces included or not. So read on to see their impact on fashion in 2023, and prepare to be captivated.