What’s cool right now, according to Gen Z

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Fashion often negotiates the thrill of newness, and with that comes an obsession with youth and the aftermath.

It’s unhealthy in many ways, but as a ‘geriatric millennial’ born in the early 80s who worked ‘in fashion’ for 15 years – now basically part of the establishment – I know that the positive changes in the industry and the start of the trends are usually driven by the younger generation.

Right now, it’s the constantly connected and highly opinionated Generation Z; the generation born between approximately 1997 and 2012 (although dates change depending on who you ask).

READ MORE:
* How to do 2000s fashion your way, right now
* Millennial pink is complete. All Hail Gen Z Green
* Addison Rae, Emma Chamberlain and more Gen Z stars take over at the 2021 Met Gala

There are wild variations in the way they consume: on the one hand, it’s all about individuality and sustainability, with a genuine appreciation for DIY, craftsmanship and independent design.

On the other, intense consumerism and a thirst for novelty, driven by TikTok microtrends, the rise of high-speed fashion and the likes of the Shein shopping platform, and a “buy now, pay later” riddled with debt.

Gen Zs are pure digital natives who grew up with just about everything at their fingertips – information, products, opinions – and their preferences are shaping trends and the future of shopping.

Their wants and demands are analyzed by trend forecasters, designers and heads of luxury conglomerates, all eager to stay relevant as the fashion industry continues to evolve at a breakneck pace – driven in large part by this new “next generation” (it should be noted here of course that fashion industry executives would be foolish to disregard another highly influential – and wealthier – demographic, the “silver dollar “.)

So who better to ask what awaits us? Here’s a taste of what’s considered cool right now according to a local Gen Z, through fashion and beauty, with a bit of philosophical self-reflection on identity and feminism for good measure.

cut-out clothes

Popularized by brands such as Miu Miu and seen all over the Met Gala red carpet, this latest trend embraces the saying “less is more.” Seeing a resurgence in “evening wear”, there has been a big shift towards experimentation with clothing and personal style.

The cutout trend is very exploratory with many two-tone pieces and a variety of fabrics used. It’s interesting and pretty cool to watch. And believe me, I’m here for the hype. But is the hype there for me?

You have to keep in mind for what morphologies this style of clothing was imagined and I have the impression that it was not me in mind. There has been a lot of discussion around the lack of body diversity in these trends and the fear that we might revert to “size zero” aspirations. I think it goes a long way – what we need is to see more people, of all sizes and from all walks of life, wearing and owning the trend. So… will I see you rock the cup?? – Mairatea

Loose Yarn Knits

The really loose crochet knit trend is all over my Pinterest board right now. It’s so inconvenient (too many moments stuck on the doorknob), but so hot. My roommate’s sister knitted me a cardigan in this style, and every time I wear it, I feel like an effortless London nepotism baby. So of course I had to buy a white bolero version by Sundessi. Perfect for layers and spices. – Yawynne

Left: Mia wears a knit bolero from her own brand, Sundessi.  Right: Mary Jane shoes are coveted by Gen Z

Provided

Left: Mia wears a knit bolero from her own brand, Sundessi. Right: Mary Jane shoes are coveted by Gen Z

Mary Janes

A combination of balletcore and my Gen Z aversion to heels landed me (and my feet) in the delicate embrace of Mary Jane shoes. My Nicole Saldana pair filled the void of formal shoes in my wardrobe and restored all the sartorial dignity to my substandard corporate outfits. We ditched heels for the comfort of sneakers and after years of utilitarian shoes, my heart sings a little when I sneak into these shoes. -Pink

Chopova Lowena

My article would be Chopova Lowena minijupe, a Belgian women-led brand that uses second-hand fabrics to create one-of-a-kind pieces. With the growth of individual style, these items truly embody that movement. It’s my absolute dream to own one and I’ll gush to anyone who gives me the space to talk!

Youth fashion has completely changed and I’m delighted. Working in occasion, the best thing for fashion is for people to move away from mass buying and trend following, now focusing on what makes them happy and buying more consciously because of it. -Rosanna

The school of rock meets balletcore... Generation Z is paradoxical.

Provided

The school of rock meets balletcore… Generation Z is paradoxical.

pearl jewelry

I love that they are versatile and can be made in the comfort of your own home. I can’t get enough! DIY, or by local brand Baobei. -Tommie

balletcore

I’m so obsessed with ballet-inspired fashion right now. I’ve never been a ballerina, but it’s an aesthetic I’ve always loved – the first designer item I fell in love with were Miu Miu ballet flats. I love ballet-style sportswear, ribbons and ties on everything, big poofy skirts, wrap cardigans, anything with tulle, but my favorite take on this trend is Simone Rocha’s take on the classic ballerina. -Isabelle

A trend I’m loving right now is the resurgence of balletcore: ballet flats, cardigans, floaty skirts, ribbons and tights. I love that it combines comfort with such a soft, hyper-feminine and elegant look – especially a look that has become much more inclusive than its previous iterations. It’s like a vindication for those of us who feel like we never left our time as ballet dancers! -Anneka

Marc Jacobs Paradise

Although released in 2020, this brand has a strong hold on the Gen Z demographic. Incredibly designed pieces that suit all types of aesthetics. I appreciate that their looks are done without conventional gender codes. Loved by It-Girls Olivia Rodrigo, Iris Apatow and Iris Law! – Aliyah

It-girl Bella Hadid for Marc Jacobs Heaven

Marc Jacobs/Supplied

It-girl Bella Hadid for Marc Jacobs Heaven

op-shopping

My friends and I like to shop thrift on the weekends – we spend a lot of time browsing the op-shops and have found some great bags, jeans, tops, sweaters and hoodies. The other week I bought a pair of Adidas sweatpants for $12 – good sneakers are hard to find in thrift stores! I would spend most of my money on shoes. – Harmony

Sustainability

​​I’m currently doing my bachelor’s degree in fashion design, so my opinion on a decent fashion trend that’s become more mainstream is sustainability – reusing what’s already there instead of consuming too much, especially with fast fashion brands that have a huge impact on the environment.

Op-shopping and up-cycling are my favorite ways to have an enduring fashion mindset and you never know what you’ll find. I also like sustainably developed local brands like olli, Bow down and moon of the day. – Clementine

Match your reusable drink bottle to your occasion outfit?  It's a yes from Generation Z.

Provided

Match your reusable drink bottle to your occasion outfit? It’s a yes from Generation Z.

Cerave

He is recommended by everyone on TikTok and many influencers, such as Emma Chamberlain and Caitlin Wig, are sponsored by them. It’s gentle and a good basic beauty mark to use as it’s good for all skin types. -Caitlin

Frank Green reusable cups

Cool colors and lots of choices that you can mix and match to suit your style, great minimalist design, they are practical, durable and look cool to match the colors of your outfit. -Naiah

Low waist jeans

2000s style is everywhere and low rise jeans are back. Worn snug or more relaxed with a wider leg and a loose feel, they’re really comfortable and can be worn everyday or for a night out. They pair perfectly with long tops, which are another new trend. -Naiah

Self-care

It seems like the words ‘self-care’ have been sunk into our subconscious, but overall I think Gen Z are really leaning in to try and shake off the hangover from the ‘boss/hustle culture’ we have inherited from millennia before us. I’m all for the self-care trend. Whether it’s seeing a therapist, turning off your phone notifications, or just saying no to more things. – Ruby

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