Fashion, a creative outlet for Gen Z

·3-min read
Young people see fashion as a source of creativity and expression in these pandemic times.

Gone are the sweatpants, leggings and other shapeless garments that were lockdown staples, as men and women alike are now out to regain a semblance of elegance. At the beginning of this year, young people belonging to Generation Z are particularly in need of more extravagant and original looks, seeing fashion as a creative outlet in the face of the pandemic's resurgence.

Comfort is king! Indeed, it has proved fashion's watchword for many months, driven by the various covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions, interspersed with long periods of home working or distance learning. But those days seem well and truly over, despite the rise in covid-19 cases since late December. People, and especially Gen Zers, want to rediscover a taste for fashion and for desirable looks. And this seems even more important in these (once again) uncertain times, offering a form of escapism.

So suggests a recent survey carried out by the VSCO * application among young people age 14 to 25. Nearly six in 10 respondents (59%) said they intend to get dressed up again in 2022, and that they need to trade in their eternal jogging suits for more surprising, extravagant or simply fun outfits. And make no mistake, it's not just about turning heads. While 28% of respondents plan to dress up only on days when they will see other people, nearly a quarter of respondents (24%) will do so for their own personal wellbeing.

In search of self-expression

For these young people, fashion appears to be a real creative outlet in this (long) pandemic. For no less than 56% of respondents, planning outfits was "one of the top ways that they express themselves creatively," undoubtedly one of the few in these times when activities, outings and other moments of relaxation are once again governed by the pandemic.

Whether in lockdown or not, the younger generation is still finding joy in other forms of expression, such as experimenting with new makeup styles (27%), editing photos and videos for social networks (26%), or creating video content for social media (16%). Overall, the survey shows that Gen Zers want, if not need, to engage in creative activities to escape from what they see as an increasingly burdensome daily life.

And when putting together their look(s), younger people don't necessarily turn to influencers, who are (ultimately) not their main sources of inspiration. Instead, young people prefer to look to their friends (35%). But a significant number of those surveyed (28%) also say they look to characters from movies or TV shows, as well as to important fashion eras such as the 1990s and 2000s, two decades that dominated the trends of 2021.

The place of sustainable fashion

A generation committed to sustainability from a young age, the Zs paradoxically still turn to fast fashion -- as a priority -- when it comes to clothing purchases. A paradox that is reflected in this survey, as affordable prices (59%) and sustainability (57%) both appear as the two priorities of the young generation when it comes to buying clothes. But that could change over the course of 2022. Nearly half of respondents (45%) say they would like to prioritize sustainability more in their purchasing decisions, while 44% would like to prioritize a specific aesthetic.

Note that Gen Z combines all of these factors when it comes to listing their favorite fashion brands, which range from Nike to Balenciaga, Gucci and Versace, to Zara and Shein.

* The survey was conducted by JUV Consulting for VSCO among 1,000 participants age 14 to 25 between October 16 and November 9, 2021.

Christelle Pellissier

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