THE GEN Z TAKEOVER – GRADUATE FASHION WEEK
By Ellie Richards
THE GEN Z TAKEOVER- Graduate Fashion Week 2019
Fashion and Politics have always been closely linked by young, artistic activists – none more than the Gen Z cohort. Graduate Fashion Week 2019 saw a variety of fresh pioneers enthusiastic to use their skill and high visibility to promote society towards a more hopeful egalitarian goal. At Slingshot, we worked closely behind the scenes with graduates as they embarked on what may have been the most influential event to kickstart their careers, in the fashion, communications and political world.
At the start of GFW 2019, Slingshot supported the graduates of Liverpool John Moore University throughout the planning and promotion of their show, a campus proudly engaging with the use of digital media to encourage inclusivity and creativity – themes which were amplified from off-set of the their presentation. With an introduction of spoken monologue alongside braille subtitles, LJMU Graduates were ready to make a statement. Beginning with Riopelle’s sponsored project, which saw sharp red tailoring marching down the catwalk, the audience was in for a shock. All 6 models pointed cameras right back at their viewers, reversing roles of publicity and hinting at some deeper themes of industry traditions. Continuing throughout the student’s collections, including the likes of Jess Semple’s sustainable collection “Off Grid: A Clean and pure view of a somewhat chaotic mind” and Heather Smith’s “100 years of women in the boys club”, it became more apparent than ever that the Gen Z cohort has come of age, far more passionate and vocal than the generation before them. While we can all appreciate the artistry behind the statements this younger generation are making – it is also vital that brand owners consider the influence they have behind trend setting, consumer patterns and buying power.
Being larger in populous and therefore influence than Millennials, Gen Z are forcing some older brands to rethink their marketing strategies. Barclay’s Bank are even helping rework investment plans for companies to be effective in an advertising world that is experiencing a content-overload. Arguably, their key pointers are to recognise the influence Gen Z has over both personal and household investments. They are keen to point out that this generation are more frugal, and have evolved a “sophisticated filter” (which many baby-boomers are quick to label as a “short attention span”) towards media and marketing, having being exposed to advertisements from a very early age. This means brands must work harder to gain their attention, capture their trust and inspire desire for their products/services. Gen Z may be the most liberal and forward-thinking generation yet, but are statistically more conservative with money (linking back to perhaps experiencing strife of elder relatives during the 2008 crash). While this may seem daunting to smaller start-up brands, never fear. This change in media advertisements means brands have far more visibility to free-marketing, and have free-range to consider more innovative, creative concepts to set your company aside from the “norm” – something which Gen Z are ruthlessly searching for.
Themes for how to approach this new and exciting consumer market is to understand their passions, such as the themes running throughout GFW, for example, Gen Z are far more tech savvy, being born as digital natives, meaning an increasing amount of cross-mediums in their creativity, such as the use of film, sound and graphic design throughout the catwalks. Perhaps the most obvious theme is that of social activism – with increasing accessibility towards travel, culture and diversity through the mediums of 24-hour news and internet tools such as Twitter. As a population, we have never been more connected to content of both the good and bad, from heartfelt inspirational stories to acts of defiance, hate and love. As a result, Gen Z’s collective voice have formed an era of young, strong and independent creatives who will have their voice heard – and no better place for this can be found, then London’s Graduate Fashion Week.
Interested to read about Brand building in the digital era, then link to our blog post