While fashion magazines and blogs have long noticed (and largely mocked) Gen Z’s affinity for resurrecting 1990s and 2000s trends, the pandemic has revealed a more nuanced side to this generation. In January, for example, Vogue Business released a serious (shocking) profile of Gen Z. Apparently, the new generation is emerging from the era of driver’s seat lockdown, no longer content to follow trends than anyone else. Many are already entrepreneurs and work as their own bosses, but their ambitions aren’t limited to making money or being an influencer. According to the fashion bible, the most important thing for these young fashionistas is to “maintain their values of authenticity, community and sustainability while building their brands.”
The meaning of each of these words has changed since 2019, however. Authenticity, for example, is primarily about personalization, while community increasingly means a digital space like the Metaverse or a digital community like a digital autonomous organization (DAO). With that in mind, here are three companies that emerged in sync with Gen Z and at the pace of the future of fashion values: personalization, sustainability and digitization.
Aria Noir – Sustainability
Aria Noir is a cutting-edge designer brand inspired by artists like Rich Rasta, the Canadian artist from Trinidad, and musician Jalal, who currently serves as the brand ambassador. Aria Noir is focusing on sustainability in several ways, primarily the use of organic materials such as alpaca fibers and soon ethically sourced gold. Setting a high standard for quality, Aria Noir claims to design for designers. “We model ourselves to perfection,” says Jalal. “We are aligning our business along the balance of beautiful and practical.”
An interesting factor in regards to Aria Noir’s creations is the brand’s reference to geometry as “sacred”, an uncommon fashion sentiment that is reflected in its sophisticated designs and patterns. But the complexity hides a focus on doing more with less. Jalal continues: “We plan to reside in a niche space of limited edition design objects of incredible value; whose materials, design and craftsmanship are self-authenticating. Our artistic commitment is driven by the passion of the creative process, in the continuous search for the ultimate “product” of orchestrated talent for the enjoyment of our customers. “In short, Aria Noir has positioned itself as the opposite of McFashion, a label that prefers quality over quantity.The next step planned by the brand is an ambitious push into the Metaverse through infinitely sustainable NFTs.
ShopThing – Digitization
Gen Z is the first generation digital native, and it shows. Far from limiting their tastes to silly TikTok videos or live-streaming influencer sales marathons, however, Generation Z is using technology to redefine shopping itself. Maggie Adhami-Boynton, a 15-year veteran startup, founded ShopThing with Gen Z in mind. ShopThing is one of North America’s first live video commerce platforms and focuses on creating a culture of diversity and inclusion; a digital community supporting all identities and backgrounds. Her website points out that ShopThing’s management team is 75% female and 100% black.
ShopThing is pushing the definition of equity in shopping through its new app, which doesn’t discriminate based on geography – a refreshing change, as many Gen Z moved out of urban playgrounds during the pandemic, some permanently. “ShopThing is perfect for the shopper who doesn’t live in a big city with designer samples or the best outlets,” says Adhami-Boynton. “Even if you hate trying things out in stores now, we have you.” ShopThing has hired an army of personal shoppers and influencers who offer its members front row access to the hottest sales and best prices around. Think StitchFix, but more dynamic, fun, and a lot cheaper.
KingPro – Personalization
Speaking of fun, what could be more delightful than making something just for yourself or a loved one? Startup KingPro is improving the game in the custom fashion space by partnering with artists, influencers and companies to develop brands and generate additional revenue through custom products, including screen printing. “We focus on what makes a brand, influencer or company special, then develop fully customized products that resonate with their fan base to increase sales and increase brand impressions,” says the company founder. Dani Diarbakerly. KingPro’s specialty is the elevation of personal brands, which itself is a tailor-made fit for an ambitious generation that is all about being the boss and valuing personal style rather than wearing a label. After all, personalization is about expressing individuality and KingPro is probably the first company to elevate individualism to haute couture because, after all, fashion is still about quality.
Presented by: Ascend Agency