The influence of Gen Z in Fashion Manufacturing and Retail

July 26, 2023 | Retail

As with any generation, the younger ones eschew the way their parents did things and blaze new trails. That’s certainly true when it comes to fashion influencers who have non-traditional takes with their fashion choices.

Trailblazers in their 20s are taking the fashion world to task by creating forward-thinking companies that eschew tried-and-true methods of marketing in fashion to create their own brands that speak to their generation’s tastes.

Even though many of these influencers use social media and e-commerce, fashion retailers in Saudi Arabia and the UAE still need foot traffic, even those from luxury travelers, to help drive sales, and capturing the attention of Gen Z is one vital way to earn more revenue.

Gen Z Fashion Trends & Generational Trends

Gen Z is the first generation to delve completely into fast fashion. Their parents typically went to a store, had to wait for the next lines to come in every season, and didn’t have e-commerce choices. Now, Gen Z is the first generation fully raised in the fast fashion paradigm.

Fast-fashion is denoted by cheaply made, quick turnarounds based on what designers see at fashion shows or on celebrities. That wedding dress Kate Middleton wore? How many copycats came out mere days following that wedding? That’s fast-fashion.

More than 50% of Gen Z members are buying most of their clothes from fast-fashion brands, yet other trends for this generation include thrifting, where they go to resale shops to find great buys in decent shape. The trend was so noteworthy that Gucci and Burberry launched their versions of resale shops because of the huge success of Depop, a vintage clothing seller that took off during the pandemic to become a juggernaut in 150 countries by reselling clothes.

Gen Z’s Buying Power for the Next Consumer Generation

As the generation entering their 20s, Gen Z has plenty of buying power not weighed down by debt or even attending prestigious universities. They have plenty of money to spend.

Making up 25% of the world’s population, Gen Z’s buying power is estimated to be around $360 billion, according to Bloomberg.

They’re also looking to spend money wisely because Gen Z knows they need to be ready for sudden changes in trends, such as emergency shutdowns, schools closing, or sudden upheavals in global markets. They can’t afford to spend money on things they don’t like.

Another trend for their fashion spending has been loungewear. Ever since people started working more from home, loungewear has taken off due to home offices, preventing the spread of COVID-19, and companies adapting to new ways of working. Gen Z took the pandemic to turn new fashion trends into hyperdrive.

What is Lonely Ghost?

Lonely Ghost, founded by Indy Blue Severe (an entrepreneur in her mid-20s), started to go the traditional route that many entrepreneurs take. She was making money from sponsorships due to her online popularity. Then, Lonely Ghost shifted its focus to its own brand of streetwear based solely on what Severe likes. And the brand took off to become a multi-million-dollar powerhouse in fashion.

Much like YouTube influencers have niche markets, so do Gen Z fashion designers like Severe. Her brand relied on building a community that listens to what she says. They responded by buying her line of comfortable streetwear that speaks to Gen Z wants. Why? Because her brand is about a creative-first approach, meaning the creative mind comes first before other concerns.

Her hard-earned loyalty came from five years of sacrifice and hard work. Severe graduated high school in 2015 and traveled all over the world as an influencer, heading to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Restaurants, hotels, and resorts paid for her to eat, stay, vacation, and relax because her followers would talk about her travels through social media. It was cheaper for those brands to go through social media as opposed to spend money on traditional advertising.

Then the pandemic hit. Severe couldn’t travel any more, and restaurants closed. So, she followed her entrepreneurial spirit and did what others of her generation have done. Severe’s hard-earned loyalty led her to create her own brand, Lonely Ghost, for something she was passionate about.

When Severe was born, fashion houses like Zara and H&M were earning billions of dollars. But those companies spoke to her parents’ generation. Like newer generations, Severe did things her own way while tapping into tools she understood, like YouTube and Instagram. She leverages online influences to sell her sustainable line of clothing, often in limited edition pieces that come out every week to add to the customization and personalization of her brand.

What does all of this mean for retail businesses?

Gen Z demands customization and personalization. Younger consumers care about the environment and sustainability as they are the ones who will grapple with climate change. Younger consumers will look for organically produced fibers, local companies, and sources of fashion that come from the Middle East rather than Asia or Europe.

They also care about connecting with their favorite brands, usually through social media and online channels that offer personalized approaches to their offerings, like limited editions, items screen printed with someone’s favorite saying, or having personalized choices at a restaurant.

Luxury brand Gucci added proprietary try-on technology that lets someone see what an outfit will look like on them without trying it on, using imaging technology. Eventually, we may see holograms that help us to see how something looks before purchasing or ordering on-demand clothing.

Retail Consultancy Services

Ollen Group is one of the leading management consulting, retail design, and tech consulting firms in the Middle East & Africa region (MEA) offering fashion and consumer products consulting services with turnkey solutions from strategy to execution. Our Fashion strategy, design and technology dedicated consultants will help you through your journey, from managing digital disruption, new business models, increased expectations from consumers, and e-commerce adoption, to making your retail operation more experiential to speak to younger audiences.

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