As a new-ish mom, I am making daily discoveries of the joys of toddler-hood. Besides the fact that everything can be used as a napkin (Mom’s white pants? Sure, why not!), and I say “no” more times in a day than ever before, I’m also becoming aware of influences shaping this next generation. For example, Sesame Street is on a constant loop in my house and I recently made note of the newest character, Julia. Julia has autism and every episode featuring Julia educates children on how to play with her and reinforces the message that although we are different in some ways, we are inherently the same. This embrace of diversity is already cultivating a desire for inclusivity and transparency from Gen Z that will continue to shape their behavior as consumers.
Diversity is a natural part of Gen Z’s world – according to Pew Research, Gen Z will be the most ethnically diverse generation ever. As a result, inclusivity is a big part of how our youngest generation is growing up, and it is evident in apparel trends too. Boys and girls clothing is becoming more gender neutral, with retailers like Zara and The Gap showing that cars can be for girls and pink can be for boys. What has taken the apparel and beauty industries years to integrate will be the norm for the next generation. This inclusive mindset will ultimately play a role in their future brand loyalty.
With the consumer’s desire for inclusivity, comes the need for more transparency – consumers want to knowthat a brand reflects the image they identify with in practice as well as perception. Brands and retailers are becoming more open with consumers about their suppliers, factory partnerships, and their pricing structure. Everlane is a brand that is pioneering this new way of business, and as their online apparel dollars grow double-digits compared to last year*, it is clear that this positioning is working for them.
This need for transparency also extends to how fashion brands practice fair trade and sustainability. When asked what social concern matters most to them, human rights and fair wages was voted #1 for all ages and genders.*** A quarter of consumers polled said they expect most fashion brands to practice sustainability in the near future.** Transparency and sustainability are a reality that today’s fashion brands and retailers are facing, and they will need to continue to demonstrate these practices. But, as this becomes more widespread, fashion marketers will also need to evolve the approach and positioning to ensure they stand out to their consumers.
Inclusivity and transparency are just two of the common themes woven through each of the macro trends we see transforming the apparel retail landscape today – the next generation of trends that fashion brands and retailers need to be aware of. Integrating these into their business will be critical to holding the ever-evolving interest of the consumer of the future.
*The NPD Group/Checkout Ecommerce 12ME February ’19
**The NPD Group/Civic Science Survey April 2019
***The NPD Group/Omnibus May 2018