Fashion often trades in the thrill of the new, and with that comes an obsession with youth and what’s next. That’s unhealthy in so many ways, but as a “geriatric Millennial” born in the early-80s who has worked “in fashion” for 15 years – now essentially part of the establishment – I know that the positive shifts in the industry and the beginning of trends are generally sparked by the younger generation.
Right now, that is the constantly plugged in and very opinionated Gen Z; the generation born between roughly 1997 and 2012 (although the dates shift depending on who you ask).
There are wild variations in how they consume: on one hand, it’s all about individuality and sustainability, with a genuine appreciation for DIY, craft and independent design. On the other, intense consumerism and a hunger for newness, led by TikTok microtrends, the rise of ultra-fast fashion and the likes of shopping platform Shein, and a debt-ridden buy-now, pay-later attitude.
Gen Z are pure digital natives who have grown up with pretty much everything at their fingertips – information, products, opinions – and their preferences are shaping trends and the future of shopping.
Their desires and demands are analysed by trend forecasters, designers and heads of luxury conglomerates, all wanting to stay relevant as the fashion industry continues to shift at a dramatic pace – led largely by this new “generation next” (It’s worth noting of course that fashion industry leaders would be foolish to disregard another very influential – and wealthier – demographic, the “silver dollar”.)
So who better to ask about what lies ahead? Here’s a taste of what is considered cool right now according to some local Gen Z, across fashion and beauty, with a bit of philosophical self-reflection about identity and feminism thrown in for good measure...
The really loose-thread crochet knit trend is all over my Pinterest board at the moment. It’s so impractical (too many stuck-on-door-handle moments), yet so hot. My
flatmate’s sister knitted me a vest in that style, and whenever I wear it, I feel like a stylish London nepotism baby. So of course, I had to buy a baby pink bolero version [by Sundessi]. Perfect for layering and spice. – Yawynne
Some combination of balletcore and my Gen Z aversion to heels led me (and my feet) into the delicate embrace of Mary Jane shoes. My Nicole Saldana pair filled the formal footwear void in my wardrobe and restored all sartorial dignity to my subpar corporate outfits. We ditched heels for the comfort of sneakers and a er years of utilitarian footwear my heart sings a little when I clip clop my way around in these. – Rosa
I am so obsessed with ballet-inspired fashion right now. I have never actually been a ballerina but it’s an aesthetic I’ve always loved – the first designer item I ever fell in love with was Miu Miu ballet flats. I’m loving ballet-style athleisure wear, ribbons and ties on everything, big poofy skirts, wrap cardigans, anything with tulle, but my favourite aspect of this trend is Simone Rocha’s take on the classic ballet flat. – 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 so , hyper-feminine, elegant look – especially one that has become a lot more inclusive than its past iterations. It feels like vindication for those of us who feel like they never let their ballet-girl era! – Anneka
I’m doing my bachelor of fashion design now, so my opinion on a decent fashion trend that’s become more common is sustainability – reusing what’s already here instead of over consuming, especially with fast-fashion brands that have immense impact on the environment. Op-shopping and up-cycling are my favourite ways of having a sustainable mindset when it comes to fashion and you never know what you’ll find. I also like local sustainably developed brands such as Olli, Kowtow and Daylight Moon. – Clementine
My friends and I like to go thrifting at the weekend - we spend lots of time looking through o- shops and have found great bags, jeans, tops, jumpers and hoodies. The other week I scored a pair of Adidas snap track pants for $12 - it’s hard to find good sneakers in the thrift stores though! I would spend most of my money on shoes. - Harmony
Heaven by Marc Jacobs
Although released in 2020, this brand has a firm grasp on the Gen Z demographic. Incredibly designed pieces that suit all types of aesthetics. I appreciate that their looks are made without conventional gender codes. Adored by It-Girls Olivia Rodrigo, Iris Apatow and Iris Law! – Aliyah
My “cool right now” item are the Dickies (mens!) 874 Workwear pants - all the cute girlies on TikTok are wearing them. They’re sold out just about everywhere and all over my feed. The trick is to buy them a few sizes up and style them with the waistband folded down, so they fit low rise. - Val
Popularised 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 of “going out party clothes” there has been a great shift towards experimentation with clothing and personal style. The cut-out trend is very exploratory with many two-tone pieces and a diversity in fabrics used. It’s interesting and quite cool to look at. And trust me, I’m here for the hype. But is the hype here for me? We must keep in mind what kinds of body types this style of clothing was imagined for and I have a feeling it wasn’t me.
There’s been a lot of discourse around the lack of body diversity in these trends and the fear that we may revert back to “size zero” aspirations. I think that’s far reaching – what we need is to see more people, of all sizes and backgrounds, wearing and owning the trend. So... will I see you rocking the cut? – Mairatea
Frank Green reusable cups
Cool colours and lots to choose from that you can mix and match to suit your style, great minimal design, they are practical, sustainable and look cool matching your outfit colours. - Naiah
It’s recommended by everyone on TikTok and lots of influencers, such as Emma Chamberlain and Caitlin Wig, are sponsored by them. It’s gentle and a good basic beauty brand to use as it’s good for all skin types. - Caitlin
My current fave! I’m usually quite sceptical of celebrity makeup but I really like it [this is Selena Gomez's beauty brand]. All of the products can be used for more everyday looks or you can build it for a going out vibe - I especially love the blush and highlighters. - Issy
I love that they are versatile and can be made in the comfort of your own home. Can’t get enough of them! DIY, or by local brand Baobei. - Tommie
My item would be Chopova Lowena mini skirt, a female-led Belgian brand using secondhand fabric to create unique pieces. With the growth of individual style, these items truly embody that movement. It’s my absolute dream to own one of these and I’ll gush to anyone who gives me the space to talk! Youth fashion has completely changed and I’m glad for it. Working in secondhand, the best thing for fashion is that people are stepping away from mass buying and trend following, now focusing on what makes them happy and buying more consciously because of it. – Rosanna
The 2000s style is everywhere and low rise jeans are back. Worn fitted or more relaxed with a wider leg and slouchy feel, they are really comfortable and can be styled for everyday or evening. They pair great with long line tops, which are another new trend. - Naiah
It seems the words“self-care” have been beaten into our subconscious, but on the wholeI think Gen Z are really leaning into trying to shake the “girl boss/hustle culture” hangover we inherited from the Millennials before us. I am all for the self-care trend, be it seeing a therapist, turning off your phone notifications or just saying no to more things. - Ruby
This story also appeared in Sunday magazine