Much has been said about how the first digitally native generation is testing the fashion industry’s agility to adapt to their progressive views about the environment, inclusivity and equality. Gen Z, however, is also rewriting how people dress by prioritizing individuality over conformity.
With “enormous influence and spending power,” the cohort’s fondness for unique, one-of-a-kind style may be a cause for concern in an industry that relies on trends.
A new reported by retail analytics firm Edited, however, pinpoints 10 common items that Gen Z consumers are searching for online in droves. Though the generation has given rise to subcultures like Cottagecore and Dark Academia, these new must-have items step away from the rustic and traditional trends birthed during the pandemic and into a new phase defined by nostalgic Y2K fashion.
Here’s a look at Edited’s 10 Gen Z trends to capitalize on now.
The demise of skinny jeans has been internet fodder for the past month, but the final blow came down when Levi Strauss & Co. president and CEO Chip Bergh said he sees the global jeanswear category cycling out of its decades-long skinny jean phase and into one that calls for wider fits.
Wide-leg jeans hold strong appeal for both teen boys and girls, Edited reported. While new arrivals of the nostalgic fit continue to grow year-over-year, data shows that consumers favor light denim washes. There’s also room for retailers to introduce novelty colors. Edited pointed out that Zara has seen “great success” with its bubblegum pink wide-leg jeans.
When it comes to fashion, eras that are shaped by economic uncertainty traditionally usher in a back-to-basics approach to trends. Hence, the post-Great Recession rise of the white Adidas Stan Smith sneaker. But not so with Gen Z. “Highlighted in recent runway shows, color-block sneakers continue to be the leading choice among Gen Z consumers,” Edited stated.
Classic Nike Jordan sneakers are emerging as the winner of this trend. Available in a wide variety of colors, the sneakers are popular with celebrities and influencers, and can be found on the resale circuit.
Shades of green
Fashion’s gatekeepers might have jumped the gun by calling “Gen Z Yellow” the next “Millennial Pink” back in 2017 because green has become the cohort’s “staple color.” Sage green has garnered a following for its soothing and calming qualities, as well as its earthy roots. Meanwhile, electric shades of green like lime allow Gen Z consumers to experiment with digital colors and “play into happy dressing stories,” Edited stated.
Gen Z isn’t afraid to stand out in a crowd. “Falling under the realm of nostalgic themes, iridescent and abstract prints offer a fun and playful dimension to spring dressing,” Edited stated.
The print trend works for online Zoom dressing as well. Of the abstract prints in the market, tops and dresses make up 60 percent of total category placement.
Cut-outs were all over the Spring/Summer 2021 and Fall/Winter 21-22 runways, but the speed at which consumers have adopted the trend speaks volumes about how virtual fashion weeks are democratizing fashion. Cut-out details are trending in casual items like jeans, but Edited said dresses with cut-outs made up over 60 percent of sell outs between March and April.
As comfort remains important for teens post-pandemic, Edited said they will look to elevate simple pieces through features and detailing such as ruching. The scrunched effect complements other Gen Z trends like cropped shirts and tops with ties.
While tops remain the most in-demand garment with ruching, Edited’s data shows that the detail is picking up momentum in swimwear, dresses and bottoms.
Though recent reports indicate that consumers are pivoting back to “going out” fashion after a full year of loungewear dominating stores and their closets, Gen Z’s footwear choices are still grounded in comfort.
Enter the retro flatform sandal. “While flatforms were featured in sporty styles and treaded soles during fashion weeks, retailers newly arriving footwear assortments show sliders as the highest populated sandal sub-category month-over-month,” Edited stated.
Like flatform sandals, Kanye West-approved slides are in hot demand for their comfort and ease. Edited noted that the shoe is especially popular among teen boys who commonly pair the house shoe with socks.
A T-shirt is fashion’s blank canvas for self-expression, so it should come as no surprise that Gen Z loves them. “Over the course of the last two months, 90 percent of top performing patterned T-shirts were categorized as graphic, confirming these remain a wardrobe staple for teen boys,” Edited stated.
Tees with optimistic messages and oversized fits may drive sales, but consumers are also paying attention to color. While black graphic T-shirts saw the highest number of arrivals, Edited reported that white and blue have out-performed black in the same period, with other contenders like greens and pinks perform well.
Gen Z consumers are swapping out their full-length joggers for shorts made in cozy fleece fabrications. A perfect companion to graphic tees, Edited said to expect jogger shorts to stick around even after lockdown restrictions begin to ease. The loungewear basic offers retailers the opportunity to update their seasonal assortments with fresh colors like green, orange and purple.