The insider-blog Business of Fashion recently asked itself how Gen-Z can be professed Climate activists (or at least Sustainability sympathizers) and heavy consumers of Fast Fashion all at the same time? It seems like an unresolvable contradiction. Is Gen-Z – the focus of BoF’s article – a generation of liars? Are they betraying betraying themselves?
It seems that Gen-Zers – and most of us, if we are honest – are not struggling too much with those questions. And it all makes sense – mostly in the feeling vs thinking way – if step back and look at what is happening from the perspective of human’s life-long quest to find and signal their ‘self’ and to belong to tribes they aspire to (and to distance themselves from ‘those others’).
Showing to be ‘concerned about the environment’ – maybe even radical in our demands – and sharing an aesthetic – maybe even being at the leading edge of trends – are current considerations that particular young people know their peers evaluate as they consider admission to their tribe. Rather than being permanent communities most of these tribes are based around passions shared on occasions – like visiting Fashion Week… or participating in a Fridays-for-Future rally. Social Media has made it easy and low cost to signal values but also to change them as needed to fit into those occasions. The same applies to aesthetics. Social Media combined with (Hyper-)Fast Fashion and Beauty make it easy to look hip … or to look ‘Greta,’ as the moment or mood requires. With that perspective, it makes perfect sense that fashion has created a ‘Greta Thunberg Look’ for us to serve our signaling fast and fashionably when the need arises.
Here the Washington Post article on the ‘Greta look‘ and the article by Business of Fashion on Gen-Z, Sustainability and Fast Fashion that got us started
This foundational article on the cultural meaning of consumer goods and how it evolves, is transferred by brands (and ultimately serves our construction of self) is also worth a read. It was written in 1986 by cultural anthropologist Grant McGracken.
Finally an article by Vivian Liao at Posito arguing that there is an “inextricable link between sustainability and fast fashion” and that “consumers have a deciding role” – Indeed.
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