Generation Z & Sustainable Fashion
Generation Z & Sustainable Fashion aren’t new to each other. With more than 250 million Gen Zers, India has the largest Generation Z cohort.
Gen Z undoubtedly praises the aesthetics of fashion as well as realizes the importance of Sustainable Fashion.
Lately, Sustainable Fashion has been getting a lot of support from Generation Z.They not only adapt to Ethical Fashion on their own but are evoking the concept of ethical fashion in others as well.
This isn’t just a mere question anymore, it was the beginning of awakening!
The Rana Plaza Tragedy, Bangladesh, 2013, left a horrendous as well as an influential impact on millions. The lesson of tragedy pleaded for the elimination of fast fashion and that is only possible via the perpetual route of slow fashion.
Slow Fashion a.k.a ‘ethical or sustainable fashion. However, before moving further, don’t you think you should have a clear idea about terms like Fast Fashion, Sustainable Fashion, and Generation Z.
What is Fast Fashion?
Fast fashion is a design, manufacturing, and marketing method focused on rapidly producing high volumes of clothing.
In layman language, it focuses on producing cheaply made, trendy pieces which result in harmful impacts on the environment, garment workers, and, ultimately, consumers’ wallets!
What is Sustainable Fashion?
Sustainable Fashion or Eco-Fashion is a movement and process of fostering change to fashion products and the fashion system towards greater ecological integrity and social justice.
In simple words, Sustainable Fashion looks forward to posing the least threat to the environment and society in the name of fashion.
What is the meaning of Generation Z?
Generation Z includes individuals born from 1997 till 2015.
It was born into a world of peak technological innovation — where information is easily accessible and social media increasingly ubiquitous.
According to some reports, 97 Percent of Gen Z consumers use social media platforms as their main source of shopping inspiration or updating themselves.
They may be kids, but Generation Z is rocking the world with their activism around fast fashion and other causes.
Meet Generation Z: The Future of Sustainability
Count it as a big mistake if you judge this Generation Z as just a reels-obsessed or just ‘Netflix and chill’ kind of generation! In reality, Generation Z has individuals who speak up their minds without any fear of society.
Gen Z prefers tech-savvy and extensive social networks to make informed purchasing decisions.
They encourage sustainable fashion and are often willing to pay more for them.
They value personalized products, and they are support brands that share their point of view on political issues.
Moreover, Gen Zers are zealous souls who have taken a lesson from their own mistakes of the past, for example, the #sheinhauls.
A lot of Gen Z influencers saw influencer Fashion hauls from brands like Shein, Urbanic, Zara, H&M, as a source of content for popularity. These brands release “trendy”, cheap, disposable clothing, made indiscriminately, imprudently, and often without consideration for environmental and labor conditions!
However, this generation, unlike others, didn’t take long to reflect and rectify their mistake. As much as this generation wants to slay and break the internet with sassy clicks; it can also flood the digital and actual roads with the motto of Sustainable Fashion.
Then, we saw the energetic Generation Z standing side by side with the Millennials In being vocal about Sustainable Fashion as well as adapting to it.
Sustainable Fashion in the real world
In reality, Sustainable Fashion concerns more than just addressing fashion textiles or products. It addresses the whole system of how clothing is produced, who produced it, and how long the lifespan of a product is before it reaches the landfill.
Hence, sustainable fashion includes the well-being and safety of social, cultural, ecological, and financial systems which are interdependent on one another.
Why is Sustainable Fashion important?
The importance of sustainable or ethical fashion underlines various concerns, for instance,
- Sustainable brands focus on the quality of the product which ultimately ensures durability and a reduction in wages.
- Sustainable fashion brands are known for their timeless, and high-quality pieces. There is a diverse range of choices that gives wearers more opportunity to be creative, express themselves, and craft a distinct personal style.
- The UN estimates that it takes about 2,720 liters of water to make one cotton shirt! Some sustainable fashion brands operate with a “water budget” to limit their water usage during clothing production.
They are just a few concerns of sustainable fashion to mention. It includes a lot more facets like carbon footprint, textile waste, etc.
After all this discussion, can you infer, what are we fighting against?
Rightly guessed, it is this evil framework of fast fashion. You will get to know more about it by reading further.
Why is Fast Fashion so bad?
Mahatma Gandhi, the father of our nation said—
“There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness”.
These words portray the thorough reality, and the right motivation the world needs.
- Human Right Violation is one of the biggest evils in the fashion industry. It comprises sweatshops(a factory where people work hard labor, under very poor working conditions, inadequate hours, and severe health risks), Not paying fair living wages, etc.
- There are a lot of brands with questionable supply chains, they tend to hide certain information from their customers. They lack the virtue of transparency with their consumers.
- Did you know, Textile production one of the most polluting industries, producing 1.2 billion tons of CO2 per year.
- According to figures from the UNEP, it takes 3,781 liters of water to make a pair of jeans, from the production of the cotton to the delivery of the final product to the store. That equates to the emission of around 33.4 kilograms of carbon. Also, every year half a million tonnes of plastic microfibers contaminate the ocean, equivalent to 50 billion plastic bottles and 20-35percent come from synthetic clothing.
These microfibres cannot be easily extracted from the water and can spread throughout the food chain of marine wildlife.
What do Gen Z consumers look for?
Gen Z hunts for the truth. They want replayability and authenticity.
Not to mention, their hunger for authenticity compounds during times of social or political unrest. Gen Z consumers want to know more about the brands they support and also the causes they care about, and if they don’t, they have no problem taking their business elsewhere.
Gen Z is one of the first generations (as a cohort) to be fluent in rapid information gathering. They know the voices which they can trust.
They are calling out brands to be more transparent in their supply chain and accountable for their wrongs.
Alongside, they are catalyzing movements among their peer consumers to improve awareness and demand utility and simplicity.
Does Generation Z care about Sustainable Fashion?
It is a generation that is ready to break the old practices that harm our Earth in the practical scenario.
In addition, Gen Z is comparatively more Health-Conscious, Environmentally Friendly, and Ethical in its usual lifestyle. Their beliefs reflect in their shopping habits by favoring brands that respect their values, support a cause, or are eco-friendly, and avoiding those that don’t.
According to some reports, consumers spent more than seven billion hours online searching for “Sustainable,” “Ethical,” “Fair-trade,” and “Eco-Friendly” items in 2020. Some Gen Zers even feel ashamed for being less eco-friendly or lacking a green lifestyle!
According to Forbes, the majority of Generation Z (54 percent) state that they are willing to spend an incremental 10 percent or more on sustainable products, with 50 percent of Millennials saying the same!
In 2030, the younger generation will be the central working force in society and it will make real efforts to create a sustainable future and likely play a substantial role in achieving the SDGs,” said Shinji Kaneko, a professor with NERPS at Hiroshima University.
Generation Z’s Sustainable Fashion Hacks!
Generation Z knows what the term ‘fast fashion’ actually means, compared to more than two-thirds – 67% – of Baby Boomers.
However, that doesn’t mean that our elders (Baby Boomers) were not sustainable. Rather a large section of Gen Z took inspiration from baby boomers in sustainability practices like —Minimalism, Repairing their particulars on their own, etc.
Generation Z has been evolving over these times and practicing numerous ethical fashion hacks to maintain sustainability in the fashion epitome.
Take a glance –
Quality over Quantity:
Buy better quality, more sustainable stuff. Yes, it costs more, but you’re likely to have it for longer and will be buying less per season overall. Buying 10-30 high-quality items a year, rather than 60 cheaper, less eco-friendly pieces, will dramatically put a halt to fast fashion. Save up, invest and buy less.
Switching to Thrifting Clothes and Buying Second hand:
Second-hand clothes and accessories, from $1,000 designer handbags to $11 tank tops, are the fastest-growing category in clothing retail.
Thrifting means going shopping at a thrift store, garage sale, or flea market where you’ll find gently used items at discounted prices. Thrifted items have been loved by a previous owner, but are usually in good shape with enough life left to be useful to a new owner.
Indian online thrift stores like – Bombay Closet cleanse, Copper boom vintage, Curated, Findings, etc are gaining popularity.
Avoid Multi Blend Fabrics:
Clothes made of mixed blends are more likely to break down quickly and are difficult to recycle. Lyocell, better known as Tencel, is a fiber made from the wood pulp of trees that are grown and replaced on specialized tree farms. Unlike most cellulosic fabrics, Tencel is produced using recyclable, Earth-friendly solvents. When blended with cotton, Tencel adds wrinkle-resistance and the lustrous feel of silk. Run for sustainable fabrics!
Buying Upcycled Products:
A majority of younger generations (59 percent of Generation Z and 57 percent of Millennials) are buying upcycled products.
Upcycled products are made using discarded objects or materials to create a product of ha higher quality or perceived value than the original
From knitting your customized face mask to styling one top in 5 ways, you can always play with fashion while being sustainable with it. Some examples of DIY sustainable fashion are: Make your simple bucket hat, quick Lenin scrunchies, style your slip dress in 10 different ways.
Invest in Trans Seasonal Clothing:
Buy items that you know are going to work for you all year round. Spend the bulk of your money on pieces that will see you through more than one season, for example, jeans, t-shirts, timeless coats, classic dresses, etc.
Opt for Rental Fashion:
Reports indicate The value of unused clothing in wardrobes around £30 billion. It is also estimated that £140 million worth of clothing goes into landfills each year. Therefore, sharing our wardrobe is a good way to contribute to the circular economy and a more sustainable future.
Repair your Belongings:
Learn how to repair clothing yourself (or find a good tailor)
When something rips or a heel breaks, you don’t necessarily have to throw it away. Learn how to repair your clothes and accessories – or, even easier, pay a professional to do it. Think twice before using it as an excuse for something new.
Donating your unwanted clothes to a good cause, rather than leaving them hanging in your wardrobe, will help others to be more sustainable;
they will invest in your old pieces, rather than buying something new.
Look out for certificates
Always look for the brand’s ethical fashion certificates like GOTS(Global Organic Textile Standard), WRAP(Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production) BCI (Better Cotton Initiative), FSC (Forest Stewardship Council),
The National Programme for Organic Production in India, etc.
Such certificates ensure the authenticity of sustainable fashion brands. Don’t let anyone fool you in the name of ethical fashion!
Support Homegrown Brands
Buy products more and more from local brands to reduce the carbon footprint. Some homegrown sustainable fashion brands are
- Baka Jewelry
- Greendigo Organic Clothing
- Karma Koncept
- Miko Lolo
- Sobo Living
- We Are Labeless
- Over a pint of beer
Saying this, some of the biggest fast-fashion brands are still being championed by this same younger generation and highlight how necessary it is for sustainable fashion to take full force.
Therefore, we can say that Generation Z & Sustainable Fashion go hand in hand.
Although there are a few lacks in sustainable fashion like the high cost or the size exclusivity, however with time, continuous efforts, and endless support from everywhere, we can overcome these difficulties as well!