Most millennials have been at odds with boomers since they were old enough to argue back. Boomers tend to describe millennials as “rebellious” and “stubborn”. Of course, millennials define these qualities as individualism and resilience. But with Gen Z, the current generation goes several steps forward to what can only be described as “defiant”. From a millennial’s perspective, Gen Z has all the best bits of our generation but they are amplified many times over. Read on to find out how the defiant outlook of Gen Z culture is shaping the world in terms of how we live and dress in 2020.
Gen Z Triggering New Ways to Live and Dress
Gen Z is unique in so many ways it’s hard to know where to begin. Cynical, pithy humor such as early memes are the product of millennial thinking. Gen Z takes this further to almost become doomsayers, preaching the impending end of the Earth. But surprisingly, Gen Z humor has a kernel of hope to it as well. As if, even in the face of near-certain annihilation, Gen Z still believes they can still make the world a better place. Even more importantly, they are willing to be that change. Defiance to both the environmental crisis as well as conventional capitalism. Here are some ways this new generation is triggering lifestyle and dressing changes:
Gen Z isn’t content with just being defiant. They are by far one of the most individualistic generations, but the vast majority of them subscribe to the same groupthink. Lucky for everyone involved, this groupthink is a major driving force behind many of the social justice movements we see today, from #MeToo to #BLM. Defiance, individualism, responsibility, and no tolerance for outmoded social systems, all of these qualities also translate into the way Gen Z dresses. They don’t conform to classic denim, for example. Many will opt for American made chinos that make a stronger statement instead. In the same way, they do not conform to outdated gender roles or sexual orientations. The lines that were once considered etched in stone are meaningless to Gen Z, breaking down social barriers and fighting racial, ethnic, or religious discrimination.
The Rise of Upcycling
We do know that Gen Z is far more aware of the impact each individual has on the environment. Young activists like Greta Thunberg are shining examples. But Gen Z does not consider a few speeches, demonstrations, or marches to be the extent of their responsibility. No, they make conscious efforts to make all aspects of their lives more sustainable with a smaller carbon footprint. This has given rise to thrift culture at a time when designer brands are more visible than ever. Gen Z is obsessed with upcycling old clothes, often repurposing them to add their own unique flair.
Since upcycling pre-owned clothes is both cheaper and less wasteful in terms of natural resources, this makes sense for the Gen Z lifestyle. Clothes that look great, but without the industrial process repeating itself every time to make them. A win-win for all. Of course, some clothing items like underwear are still best purchased new. Even the best boxers for men ultimately cover someone’s privates. Wearing a pair of preowned boxers may not be the healthiest idea in the world.
Understatement Is a Big Statement
Especially with younger men, the street fashion norms from the past decades are fading away. Up until recently, it was all about standing out while looking good. Early 00s fashion was as outrageous as it was adventurous (sometimes with disastrous results). The decades that followed, however, have seen a gradual shift from loud, over-the-top outfits to tasteful minimalistic elegance.
The idea is still to stand out and look good. But the way to do it has changed. The right casual shirts for men can make a statement today just as visible as the loudest designer jacket in decades past. However, the execution is very different. Where loud outfits once screamed daring and panache, they are now just tacky. Instead, minimalism and experimenting with different fabrics and textures is how things are done in street fashion.
Lifestyle and dressing norms don’t normally reflect much about the periods in which they become popular. But in the case of Gen Z, everything is a statement. While valuing individualism, Gen Z is also less forgiving of things like misogyny, sexism, harassment, discrimination, and irresponsible living. The generation, despite facing an impending climate crisis as well as an ongoing pandemic, continues to strive towards more sustainable permaculture. This is evident in nearly every aspect of Gen Z life, from environment-friendly lifestyles to dressing challenging cultural and fashion conventions.