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Gen Z won't take one-size-fits-all for an answer when it comes to clothes

by John Wheeler
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    By and large, Gen Z is a generation that manages to balance realism with idealism. Gen Zers might be finance-focused, but they’re equally passionate about social justice. They’re ferociously entrepreneurial, but also clear-headed when it comes to setting realistic expectations for themselves. They’re a generation of do-gooders and pragmatists alike, a group who sees how “convenience” and “virtue” aren’t polar opposites of each other; that in fact, they’re often perfect fits for each other.

    Gen Zers’ unabashed love for both “realness” and “doing right” is shaking up the everyday world of retail apparel. By championing diversity and individuality, and by laying aside old myths of what it means to have “the perfect body,” Gen Z is paving the way for clothing brands that cater to all notions of beauty to reach greater success.

    Leaving stigmas and stereotypes behind on the clothes-rack

    Take a look at a company like Madewell, which makes women’s and men’s clothing for every body-size. Madewell has made the conscious decision to position itself as an inclusive brand in every possible way, whether through the “Humans We Heart” section of its website, its vast social media presence or its partnership with Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and J. Crew in support of the LGBTQ community.

    In word, look and deed, Madewell is making good on its brand promise to appeal to diversity, tolerance and unflinching individualism — regardless of body type. Madewell’s website makes a point of demonstrating how a particular shirt or pair of denim jeans fits onto different body types. Not only are these demonstrations body-positive, they’re business-practical.

    Turning acts of body-shaming into works of art

    Another Gen Z-favored retailer, Diesel, ran a recent campaign against body-shaming that’s still making headlines aptly titled “Haute Couture.” Partnering with the likes of Nicki Minaj, Barbie Ferreira and Bella Thorne, Diesel took body- and identity-shaming comments directed at celebrities on social media and wove them, word-by-word, into an actual line of high-end clothing. With a playful (but powerful) promotional video, and a strong matching presence on other social media channels, the campaign drew rave reviews from around the world, earning accolades from young trendsetters and everyday consumers alike.


    “Real vs. ideal” doesn’t fit Gen Z’s notion of retail fashion


    All too frequently, previous generations have been told that “real” and “ideal” somehow need to exist separately. But Gen Z doesn’t look at it like that. They see virtue and necessity as being one and the same thing — and they’re proud to wear it as a fashion statement, to boot. Retailers, start taking notes.

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