By now, the fact that millennials will become one of the most influential consumer groups in the world has become well-known. However, these youngsters are redefining the world in many ways. They represent a group of people who are fierce advocates for environmental and socio-political causes, as well as gender equality. Their impact is strong and their high-numbered voices are heard by many, fashion industry included. One garment at a time they are paving the way for new consumerism, and being one of the most powerful consumers, the industry has no choice but to listen.
The pillars of sustainability
Fast fashion is convenient and affordable, that is true, but what goes behind closed doors? Factories, the production and treatment of fabrics, the pollution that comes as a result of processing a massive amount of fabric, as well as working conditions and fair wages for manufacturers of the goods are just some of the concerns that the new generation has, and that were discussed at length during the Copenhagen Fashion Summit. Caring for the causes as much as they do, millennials demand transparency in terms of where their clothes come from, who makes them and how much manufacturers earn as well as the working conditions they’re forced to endure. So, one of the ways the millennial generation as well as gen Z’ers are reshaping the fashion industry is by forcing them to take pledges, vow to provide more transparency, and foster an ethical supply chain. That way we can know that we are on the path towards sustainable fashion, one that will perhaps cost more but that will have a longer lifespan and not end up on landfills and add to the already massive amount of pollution.
The companies who listen
There are already strides made in terms of sustainability. H&M’s policy is one great example; namely, they offer discounts for every shopper who bring in old clothes, regardless of which brand they are, and the clothes are then recycled for the purpose of making new ones. Primark is another brand setting a good example for the rest of the fashion industry as they have made the effort to track down all the countries and factories their fabrics and textiles come from. Also, they have been generous There are already strides made in terms of sustainability. H&M’s policy is one great example; namely, they offer discounts for every shopper who bring in old clothes, regardless of which brand they are, and the clothes are then recycled for the purpose of making new ones. Primark is another brand setting a good example for the rest of the fashion industry as they have made the effort to track down all the countries and factories their fabrics and textiles come from. Also, they have been generous enough to provide full disclosure for the public and their consumers. Let’s just hope that a handful of companies who foster ethical practices will be followed by even more influential powerhouses.
The pursuit of authenticity
Millennials aren’t what you would call regular consumers, as their focus has increasingly been shifting from material goods to experiences, the pursuit of wellness and general enjoyment of life. Aside from that, the career-hunting and the student loans don’t leave much room for closets full of disposable items, so this generation takes on two seemingly diametrically opposed directions when it comes to shopping, which are in fact quite similar. One is to tackle secondhand and vintage stores that not only allow them to save their wallets but also allow them to foster their sense of style and pursue authenticity – which is still highly important to them. In vintage clothes stores they can hunt for buried treasures and at times find one-of-a-kind high-end gold that costs a fraction of the price. Now, as not everything can be found in these stores, they will resort to high-end stores. Particularly those who not only offer supreme shopping experience and great customer service – another important factor in attracting younger audiences – but that will also provide them with high-quality garments that will last them a lifetime. This is why, instead of the fast-fashion version, they will often opt for the custom-made one. A gown from a small local designer or pricier but trendier high-quality designer bikinis will not only stand the test of time, but also allow them to show off their personal sense of style.
In case you haven’t noticed
One of the reasons that both minimalism and athleisure are two trends that will be sticking around for a very long time is the fact that they offer what millennials crave most (aside from sustainability, personalized items and quality), and that is comfort. If you have recently kept an eye on the street style sections or even the latest shows during London and New York fashion week, you have noticed that a great number of designers are ditching stilettos and uncomfortable clothes and creating both footwear and clothing garments that are an amalgamation of comfort and style. The new generation is tired of the old trends and conventions – they’re even reshaping the office dress code. The sneaker has become the ultimate choice of footwear and athleisure and minimalism rule all. When it comes to minimalism and capsule wardrobes, the reason they’re so popular among younger generation is simple – the clothes are perfectly tailored, they mesh well and you don’t have to spend a million to look great every time. Don’t be fooled, millennials have a taste for the finer garments in life, but what they are realizing is that quality comes before quantity. They will rather spend more on one item that will go into their capsule wardrobe than purchase five items that will be ready for the trash bin in three months’ time.
As long as they keep their ears and minds open, companies will be back in millennials’ good graces. All they have to do is abide by the rules of the new consumerism that this powerful generation has imposed, and they will be happy to spend their hard-earned money in those stores again. Until then, the millennials will show loyalty to those who have already heard their voices and are helping them pave the way to new consumerism, and that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.