As the new “it” generation, Gen Z doesn’t just move the needle for the fashion industry. It is the needle for the fashion industry.
The younger generation has already obliterated many fashion staples that 90s babies held so dear. Low rise, side parts, and skinny jeans aren’t just uncool anymore. They’re *checks notes* cheugy.
Sorry, millennials, your time has passed. But we’re sure you’ll land on your feet—just make sure there are at least two inches of platform under them when you do.
With Gen Z calling the style shots, fashion retailers must adapt to meet a new list of demands. Successful brands need to reach young consumers on their favorite platforms to make researching and purchasing products as seamless as possible. They must also leverage influential young creators as their brand storytellers to add an additional layer of trust for a generation that’s beginning to place authenticity above all else in the ecommerce landscape.
In this blog, we’ll dig into Gen Z shopping habits, how they influence the fashion industry, and trends to watch for. Then, we’ll introduce you to the top Gen Z fashion influencers, some of today’s most popular young creators.
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Gen Z shopping habits
Over half of U.S. adults use social media as a source for product information research, but that share is even higher among Gen Z consumers at 72%. The increase among younger consumers indicates a far greater fusion of retail and social media in the coming years. Recent in-app shopping features developed by leading social media sites show that major platforms are ready.
U.S. retail social commerce sales are expected to tip $45 billion by the end of 2022. But research shows that shopping habits by the younger generations could help propel that number to nearly $80 billion by 2025.
Gen Z already has a collective buying power of $150 billion despite roughly half the generation yet to enter the full-time workforce. Their increased use of social media platforms as a source for product information should signal a perfect opportunity for retailers to leverage these platforms to reach a growing audience.
How Gen Z influences the fashion industry
Fashion over food?
A 2021 Piper Sandler survey found that clothing overtook food as a priority for young Americans for the first time since 2014. Clothing came in at No. 1 with 22% of the wallet share, while food took a backseat in second place with 21%.
Social media platforms attempt to ‘stay young.’
Snapchat (35%), TikTok (30%), and Instagram (22%) were the most popular social media channels among Gen Z in 2021. Those platforms have now prioritized social commerce to capitalize on their popularity with younger consumers.
Gen Z wants more bang for their buck.
Gen Z consumers are a frugal bunch that has decreased their number of impulse purchases and increased the amount of product research since the pandemic. In 2021, the two most important factors that impacted Gen Z purchase decisions were the quality of the product or service (64%) and affordability (62%). Customer service (34%) and brand authenticity (32%) were also leading factors.
Young buyers take cues from trusted sources.
Friends and family are still the most trusted sources of product recommendations for Gen Z consumers, but social media is catching up. Consumers between the ages of 13 and 24 are the most likely group to have purchased a product because an influencer recommended it on social media. Additionally, Gen Z is the most likely generation to follow their favorite brands on social media.
Gen Z fashion trends to look out for
@baby._.blaze Feels good to be free😁🎉 #genderfluid ♬ Up down Pacer test – Apak
Gen Z has fully embraced gender fluidity, turning it into a fashion headliner for the younger generation. From makeup tutorials with genderless borders to androgynous fits inspired by bygone eras, Gen Z has shredded the boundaries of fashion and put fashion retailers on notice. Some major sellers have already addressed the evolution by partnering with fashion brands to meet the demand with gender-fluid collections.
“Retailers and brands should be looking at gender-fluid apparel as an opportunity. It absolutely can’t be ignored. It will definitely be impacting the fashion trends of the future. And the retailers and brands that are doing it now are really going to be ahead of the curve.”
— from CNBC’s interview with Erin Schmidt, Senior Analyst at Coresight Research
Anything but skinny jeans
@stockunion I think it is time for a girls edition! Credit to @Toby Quick 👏🏼 #ootd #fashion #outfit #baggyclothes #trending #jeans ♬ A work of art by s_johnson_voiceovers – Stefan Johnson
Skinny jeans are out. Gen Z deemed tight jeans “uncool” in 2021, and (despite some millennial tears) it looks like they were right. From loungewear and baggy jeans to #grandpacore, loose fits are here to stay—at least for now.
A push for sustainability
@shainamunro Let me know if you want more of this! #sustainablefashion #sustainableswaps #ethicalclothing #sustainableinspo ♬ original sound – Shainamunro
Protecting the environment was the No.1 personal concern for Gen Z in 2021. As a result, the younger generation called for more brands to eliminate fast fashion and begin using more sustainable materials and practices.
Some major corporations have heard their pleas and begun to adjust accordingly. For example, Amazon Renewed now gives customers the option to shop pre-owned and refurbished items, while Apple, Google, and Meta, among others, have committed to carbon neutrality timelines.
@radicalmaddie_ no like I’m obsessed… @dreamgirlvtg on insta 💒 #90s #vintage #fyp #thriftfinds #thrifted #ootd #y2k #thrifthaul #haul ♬ say so – </3
The push for sustainability gave rise to the thrifting trend. Some of the most engaging fashion content on TikTok comes from creators who hit second-hand stores and share their haul with their audience. The practice also makes for great vintage finds that pair nicely with pieces from some of today’s hottest brands and styles.
Top Gen Z influencers to follow on social media right now
Gen Z fashion influencers on Instagram
1. Eyes Rodgers
Eyes Rodgers is a Japanese model and artist currently living in Amsterdam. She’s known for her laid-back Y2K fashion sense and wide catalog of hairstyle and accessory inspiration. Eyes has recently partnered with brands like Tommy Hilfiger, H&M, and ASOS, among others.
You can also follow Eyes on TikTok.
Josef Michael is an English creator with an affinity for baggy pants and colorful knits. Some of his most popular content is “styling” reels, where he picks a theme (Gucci, JNCO, all-back clothes) and compiles a clip with a handful of his favorite looks.
3. Aly Meghani
Aly Meghani is a one-stop shop for everything streetwear fashion. He always keeps his content light and fun with looks into his eclectic wardrobe and fits inspired by well-known cartoon characters and popular television characters.
Barbie Ferreira is a model, actress, and body positivity activist known best for her role as Kat Hernandez in the HBO show Euphoria. She went viral for “unretouched” photos posted for a campaign with Aerie in 2016. Later that year, TIME included Barbie in its “30 Most Influential Teens” list.
5. Evita Nuh
Evita Nuh is a columnist for Gogirl! magazine and the creative director for EN.PENS. The Indonesian fashionista first put her stamp on the industry as an 8-year-old blogger creating content around her playful, gender-fluid style.
You can get more style tips from Evita on her blog.
Gen Z fashion influencers on TikTok
GRWM: Day 41, I have wanted a denim skirt for soooooo long. !!
Mira Al-Momani is all about sustainable fashion industry practices and materials. She posts daily “get ready with me” content that features styles from emerging designers and “slow fashion” practices. Mira is also passionate about body positivity and advocates a new standard of sample sizes as a step forward in regulating safety in the modeling industry.
You can also follow Mira on Instagram.
2. Lewys Ball
@lookingforlewys remember the yodelling walmart boy…. this is him now…. decked out in @Pandora ME jewelzzz #PandoraMe ♬ Eazy Austin Millz Remix – MillzMondays
Lewys Ball is a Scottish fashion and lifestyle creator. With the mantra “makeup is for everybody to wear,” Lewys shares DIY tips for aspiring stylists while incorporating song solos and day-in-the-life vlog content. In 2018, he released a Snapchat show titled Working With Lewys, empowering fans of all genders, sexualities, ages, and ethnicities to “literally own it.”
My ootd for going thrifting!!! Excited to blow off some steam
Better known online as TinyJewishGirl, Clara Perlmutter rose to TikTok stardom during the pandemic when her boredom with pajamas drove her to share her distinctively stylish closet with the world. Clara admits her style might not always “make sense” but hopes fans will come along and enjoy the wild ride.
@monikkamancini Spring Trends 2022💐Which one is your fav?? #springtrends2022 #fashiontrends #fashiontiktok2022 #fashiontips ♬ follow liz sanchez if you are hot – LIZ SANCHEZ
Monika Mancini produces outfit inspiration that teaches women how to dress for their specific body type. Her style tips and hacks are perfect for anyone looking for the latest in comfort and fashion.
@asmala.la لفتين حجاب للمدرسة وللبنات الي وشهم طويل ونحيف 💜💜💜💜 بحبكم #fy #fyp #hijabtutorial #hijab ♬ original sound – by_an_as_Music
Asmala.la is one of the leading hijab style creators on TikTok. Her content inspires thousands of ladies searching for hijab looks for any occasion.
You can also follow Asmala.la on Instagram.
Gen Z fashion influencers on YouTube
Janhavi Tiwari, who goes by the moniker The Brown Daughter on YouTube, is a 20-year-old student who produces blogs, challenges, makeup, and relatable fashion content. Janhavi’s fans love her day-in-the-life content that features fresh outfits inspired by her Indian roots.
You can find more of her content on Instagram.
2. Bretman Rock
Bretman Rock made a name for himself on Vine in 2015 and is now one of the most popular fashion and beauty influencers on YouTube. He’s known best for his makeup tutorials, innovative fashion sense, and hilarious commentary.
Emma Chamberlain made a name for herself in the fashion industry by posting realistic and relatable looks with her own unique flair. TIME magazine named her to its “25 Most Influential People on the Internet” list in 2019 and credited her for “pioneering an approach to vlogging that shook up YouTube’s unofficial style guide.”
You can also follow Emma on Instagram.
Joshua Daniher is an up-and-coming fashion, design, and lifestyle creator from Melbourne, Australia. He specializes in the latest and greatest streetwear trends, sneaker style tips, and product reviews.
You can also follow Joshua on Instagram.
5. Vivian V
Vivian V is a fashion and beauty guru creating tutorials and DIY content for her 1.6 million YouTube subscribers. Her regular vlogs give fans a look into her daily routine and how she lands affordable finds for classic looks.
Key takeaway: Gen Z fashion trends power the ecommerce clothing landscape.
Today’s latest fashion trends begin and end with Gen Z. Their influence and buying power are so strong that retailers are forced to adapt to an all-new list of consumer habits.
Brands who want to succeed in marketing in the Gen Z fashion space must partner with creators able to drive trends and speak the same language as young consumers. These partnerships add a layer of authenticity that simply cannot be replicated by an in-house ad team and is the only way for brands to stay on the cutting edge of a constantly evolving market.