In February, thousands of children skipped school and gathered outside London’s Houses of Parliament to protest against climate change. Shopping and wearing the latest high-street trends is becoming less of a priority for them, especially when it escalates the very issue they’re fighting hard to change.
The 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey reports that 75% of young people believe that business leaders focus on their own agendas rather than considering wider society, and 62% think companies have no ambition beyond wanting to make money. Therefore, if a brand wants Gen Z customers, it must satisfy their expectations of honesty and transparency. Gen Z wants to know what impact its consumer choices have on other people and the planet, all the way from employees’ experience in the supply chain to what happens to the clothes that aren’t sold.
Without that transparency, Gen Z will continue to put its trust in smaller, independent brands. Why would Gen Zers buy a fast-fashion t-shirt bearing a slogan that reads ‘Equality’ when the company’s practices contradict their values? The item could be made in a sweatshop by someone not on a living wage – what’s so equal about that? On the flip side, they could buy that same slogan t-shirt from a smaller brand that makes to order, pays fair wages and is operated by people who share similar values and experiences to them.
Thomas Brunskill, the creator of queer, political slogan t-shirt brand Mundane, recognises this. ‘By purchasing an activist-oriented product from an individual or small business, you are truly fuelling raw creativity and genuinely allowing a voice to people within the community. My queer t-shirts share true, unfiltered messages from an individual within the queer community who isn’t doing this to reach profit margins or impress investors.’ One thing is clear: it’s Gen Z’s world and we’re just living in it.
Tori West is the editor of Bricks Magazine, an independent, intersectional feminist publication exploring social-political issues within fashion and art.
For more insight on the worlds largest demographic, download our Youth Futures report.