Generation Z, iGen, Digitarians – these are the terms for those, who were born in 1995 and afterwards. There are quite a few other names, but these are the most widely used ones. Studying, writing and reading about them has been hot for a while, and for me, personally, it is especially interesting, as I have started a blog “what being twenty is like” a couple of months ago due to my desire to explore and write about my experience as a 20-year old. It was a surprise for me, when I found out that technically I was not part of Generation Z, as I was born in 1994, which means that I am in the ‘Generation Y/Echo Boomers/Millenniums’ group. Well, this makes sense, as I felt a little out of this league anyway.
In recent years, our world has been changing with an insane speed and on an extreme scale. Obviously, that has affected most of the planet`s population, but especially children and young people, as they were in different stages of development and forming as human beings. As a result, various publications reflected on the matter and shared all sorts of opinions about it. The one that attracted most of my attention was “Tapping Generation Z” by Helena Pike for Business of Fashion. It is clear that it is especially interesting due to the liaison to fashion and consumption of these young people, who are indeed very different from all the previous generations.
I must admit that it is hard to argue, when statistics is present, but there are a couple of things in the article that I find hard to believe. For example, the fact that “from 2005 to 2015, fashion purchases including clothing, accessories and footwear dropped from 45 to 38 percent of teenage spend” seems unbelievable to me due to the constant growth of all sorts of high-street stores, such as H&M, Zara and many others similar, though a little less successful. On top of that, from what I see personally, Teenagers care more and more about clothes and are on a permanent hunt for new ‘It-pieces’. Even if you are a Normcore adherent, it takes a sum to be one.
Also, I cannot agree with the statement that we spend less. I mean, we do have less money, but I would not say that there is that much awareness about, how we spend them. Most people get money and go buy new clothes (Yeezy snickers by Kanye, Puma collections by Rihanna, Ivy Park by Beyonce etc), brunches at trendy coffee shops, and overpriced green juices at fashionable juice bars. Paying 15$ for a bottle of juice does not appear to be economic, but I find more and more young people making this choice. However, this tendency is definitely a positive one, taking into consideration that previous generations preferred to spend the same amount of money on cigarettes and alcohol. I know people, who choose a cup of expensive coffee (to Instagram it, of course) instead of a simple, proper meal, cooked at home.
“Fashion was a kind of social elixir — wearing the right brand could make you cool. But today’s teens live out their lives on social media, where social currency is built on experiences”, – yes, but those very same teens make other teens online celebrities due to what kind of clothes (and how expensive it is) they are wearing, or how many cools places they are going to on a regular basis. You can definitely become a well-known personality thanks to your opinions and beliefs, but you have equals chances, if all you have to give is the number of designer bags, you own. This contradiction is shown very clearly with the image that was used at the beginning of the article – rich kids slash models Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid next to Amandla Stenberg and Tavi Genson with the two last-mentioned known for their strong opinions and personalities.
Social media are powerful tools for all sorts of causes, and they are incredibly influential today (both in positive and negative ways). Let`s not forget last year`s social media drama with Esseena O`Neill – the Australian teen who grew up dreaming about Internet fame, doing everything she could to get that and ending up depressed and anxious about everything that was going on in her life. As a result, she started a campaign stating that social media is an issue, which makes us all sick and miserable. I felt sorry for her, for sure, but also mad that there was no one around to help her out. Education and true values all of a sudden get even more important.
Finally, getting attention of Digitarians is both easy and complicated. If you want those, who watch “Keeping up with the Kardashians”, it will be one type of content. However, if you aim for conscious and thoughtful ones, then you will have to work hard and think through all the aspects of whatever you are doing, as it will have to be really meaningful.
From my personal point of view, discrepancy today is as big as ever, and the gap gets bigger every day. Having said that, we should not forget that generalization is not the best way to go about things, and even Generation Z has a lot of very different subtypes due to differing social, cultural and economic environments all over the world. The desire to find out more about the teenagers that are part of Generation Z led us to talking to them and discussing their attitude towards fashion in order to understand better, what reality is like. You will not have to wait very long, before you can read the first one here.
Cover photo is from Tumblr.