CLIMATE ACTIVIST AND FAST FASHIONISTA – HOW CAN THAT BE ?

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.

“Teen activist Greta Thunberg is now a fashion icon, whether she likes it or not” (Washington Post, April 2020)

FURTHER READING:

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.

And here an article on how brands create meaning that goes beyond fashions and how consumers are involved in the process: https://bit.ly/DreamDoDareSummaryArticle

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.

Brand Elevation – Lessons in Ueber-Branding” is our practical guide to help you give a brand meaning and making it peerless and priceless. It features many application examples as well as case studies shared first-hand by marketing leaders from brands as diverse as Airbnb, Acqua Di Parma, Starbucks, TerraCycle or Youtube.

For deeper insights into what drives the success of ‘Ueber-Brands’** and for many, in-depth case studies illustrating those drivers, read our book “Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the Ueberbrands.

** ‘ueber’ = German for ‘above and beyond’ – just like the ambitions of brands we are talking about.

About JP Kuehlwein

JP Kuehlwein is a global business leader and brand builder with a 25+ year track record of translating consumer and brand insights into transformational propositions that win in market. Principal at ‘Ueber-Brands’ a New York consulting firm, he now helps others to elevate brands and make them peerless and priceless. JP also teaches brand strategy at NYU Stern and Columbia Business School and leads the Marketing Institute at The Conference Board, all in New York. Jp previously was Executive Vice President at Frédéric Fekkai & Co, a prestige salon operator and hair care brand and lead brand- and corporate strategy development and execution at multinational Procter & Gamble as Brand Director and Director of Strategy. JP and Wolf Schaefer have co-authored the best-selling books “Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the Ueber-Brands” which lays out what drives the success of modern premium brands and "Brand Elevation - Lessons in Ueber-Branding" a guide to developing and executing a brand elevation strategy. Find the books here: https://bit.ly/UeberBooks
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