“Out with the old, in with the new”: Deep dive into Gen Z fashion

Braiden Wade


As I went into my freshman year of college, I began to think of what clothes to buy and what shoes to wear. I started to think deeper and question “what is fashion?” This became more than just what to wear on the first day of classes, but rather the meaning behind what I wear. I began asking my peers the same questions and here are their responses.

Beginning of an Era:

Fashion is only bound by the wearer’s creativity. Different styles are combined into one, new styles are developed every day, and society is finally opening up to new possibilities in the fashion world. Generation Z has a unique taste in clothing and perception of fashion as a whole. Fashion according to PBS NewsHour  is “a means of self-expression that allows people to try on many roles in life.” Here we have a collection of Gen Z’s perspectives on fashion.

Mehrab Jubara,18

What is fashion to you?

“I think fashion is a way to express yourself. You don’t have to have money to dress nice or look nice. When I find a nice fit from the thrift store I feel happy, it makes me hella excited. Putting on an outfit that I like gets me excited to start my day.” 

How does fashion make you feel?

“Fashion makes me feel alive. When I wear something that I created it makes me happy. My clothes make me who I am; it makes me interesting, different, and creative. I also feel more confident in who I am.”

Would you change your style based off other peoples suggestions or criticism?

“No. I don’t give a f***  what people think about my style. That’s what makes me, me! If they’re sitting there and hating your style and choice of outfit they’re negative and they don’t have their own style and want to hate for nothing.”

How did you find your style?

“I didn’t really find my “forever style,” but I’m getting there. I discovered my style from watching a lot of early 2000 movies and 90’s movies. That’s what inspired my style. I’m in the mix between 90’s and Business casual.”

Keenan Richardson II, 19

What is fashion to you?

“Fashion is an expression of culture. No matter what culture it is, they have their own fashion. Even subcultures. Also being an art expression. It started with fashion class when the teacher told us to look at fashion from various cultures and time periods. The first one that caught my eye was African attire since I myself am African. The first place we looked at was Egypt. Their style of dress reflected their worship for the sun. Their garments had rays like the sun. It was beautiful to me how your spirituality and culture can influence your fashion so much without much thought.”

How does fashion make you feel?

“It makes me feel like a father, and the clothes are my children that I’m oh so proud of.”

Would you change your style based off other peoples suggestions or criticism?

“I may change my style based on suggestions,” and I most definitely accept constructive criticism. That’s what a stylist does. They tell you to change this; add this or that. And I admire stylists, so I most definitely take the criticism.”

How did you find your style?

“My style comes from loving the sport of skateboarding while also being a fan of African jewelry. That’s why I may wear a tee, a pair of ripped jeans and vans but wear nothing but African jewelry. It’s a way of expressing myself. Like yes, I may be into ‘skate culture’ or ‘street wear,’ but I can never forget my roots.”

Jaden Findley, 17

What is fashion to you?

“Fashion is pretty much an escape from reality for me. You go around and you can pretty much see everyone wearing the same thing in a way. Jeans, some s***, and shoes with no effort. With fashion it allows me to break normal rules and dive deeper in what I choose to put on. It’s like a world of its own that doesn’t stop changing, it always presents itself with new and more creative styles for me to try out.”

How does fashion make you feel?

“Fashion gives me the confidence boost that regular private school uniforms never gave me. I feel like I stand out rather than be forced to conform to normal standards. It’s like it gives me a second life in which I’m free to do as I please.”

Would you change your style based off other peoples suggestions or criticism?

 “The answer is yes and no. In a general aspect, I don’t care what others think but suggestions and constructive criticism never hurts. Maybe a different pair of jeans would’ve gone better than the current ones I have now. It’s all opinionated and you have to see the difference between those who aren’t trying to help you and those who are. Because fashion is different for everyone so if I can rock something and I get a little inspiration from someone else, that won’t hurt. We can rock that s*** together.”

How did you find your style?

“Well I used to get bullied for stereotypical reasons like being smart, having glasses and having an Afro. On days we had no uniforms is kind of where I experimented what I liked as my own style. So yes, I even wore jean shorts lmao. But eventually through experimenting and getting help from my friends who had a better sense of self at the time, I kinda learned what actual style is.”

Lianna Johnson, 18

What is fashion to you?

“Okay, okay, okay so fashion to me is a way for me to express myself without having to use any words. The multitude of colors and patterns that are possible in fashion give me the variety I need to make my personality known.”

How does fashion make you feel?

“Fashion makes me feel like I am capable of anything I put my mind to.”

Would you change your style based off other peoples suggestions or criticism?

“I would not completely change my style based on other people’s suggestions or criticism because at the end of the day, the only opinion that matters about how I dress, is mine!”

How did you find your style?

“I found my style through things that inspire me. Whether that be music, my peers, or experiences I have been through. Inspiration for fashion lies everywhere and over the years it has just grown.”

Aris Holman,18

How did you find your style?

“Honestly I found it through my older sister. When I was younger I’d always borrow her clothes and she wasn’t a follower; her style was different. As I grew up I was influenced by more mainstream trends,as most preteen gals are until they learn better, but generally couldn’t afford them so I began thrifting. Now I follow a few people for inspiration and wear whatever I like.”

What is fashion to you?

“Fashion is the realm of style. There’s no way to do it “right”.  For me it’s a language, an identifier, and a lifestyle. It’s a language because how you dress communicates something about you: your culture, your preferences, etc. An identifier because it’s inevitable that people will come to know you by how you dress. A lifestyle because fashion is a part of your lifestyle, heavily influenced by your age, what you do day-to-day, where you work, etc.”

How does fashion make you feel?

“It makes me feel excited—it’s one thing that you’re constantly perfecting and is fun to cultivate. There’s also so many facets to it, design, marketing, creation, etc, which just adds to what makes fashion it’s own “world”.”

Would you change your style based on other people’s suggestions or criticisms?

“I’m gonna say yes, not because I particularly care for criticisms, but I’ll always take suggestions—that’s what the people I follow on IG or Pinterest provide: suggestions, inspiration, a different perspective.”

Julianna Bruce, 18

What is fashion to you?

“Fashion to me is an art form and a way to express myself. I’d describe it as an art form because you can make people feel different things about the way you dress; the same way you can make people feel differently by using different scenes, colors, or techniques in a painting.” 

How does fashion make you feel?

“Fashion makes me feel confident and powerful. I can fully express myself and the way I’m feeling in the way that I dress. Personally, I feel that I have a good sense of fashion and so I like to show off the outfits that I put together the same way I would any piece of art I’m proud of.” 

Would you change your style based off other people’s suggestions or criticism?

“Never. When it comes to how I appear in the world I like to stand out. I like to be different and I’ve found that a lot of what I like, the general population may not. I’ve always been confident in myself when it comes to the way I dress because the way I dress any particular day is usually directly connected to how I’m feeling.”

How did you find your style? 

“I’ve been all over the place with style for the last few years. I’ve always followed alternative Instagram models and I’ve picked up a lot of looks from there. I don’t discriminate between women’s and men’s fashion and so I pick up ideas from both sides. Generally, my style is based on alternative fashion because I like the confidence that the clothing gives me, but I don’t shy away from other styles. If I’m feeling a bit more experimental.”

With that folks, Gen Z’s style is unique and stands out from the rest. We don’t care too often about criticism because it is our own style. However we aren’t too close minded to not take suggestions. 

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