Sustainable Retail: How Gen-Z is paving the Way
By Courtney Raymond
Watch out fast fashion; Gen-Z is forging a path for more sustainable retail. The generation born from the mid-to-late 1990s to the early 2010's is using its buying power to strengthen the emerging trend of environmentally friendly goods and clothing.
In their relatively short lifetime, Gen-Z has been exposed to drastic social and societal changes, which has shaped its worldview. Those experiences, combined with an extremely close relationship with technology and social media, has inspired Gen-Z to standup for an array of global issues. Dubbed the most photographed generation in history, looking trendy is important to Gen-Zers, but that doesn’t mean sacrificing their beliefs. Instead, this group of environmentally woke consumers are turning away from mass-produced products and embracing less conventional modes of sustainable retail such as upcycled goods, resale and consignment.
Gen-Z is frequently in front of the camera sharing stories on Instagram or performing for TikTok. The constant pressure to look stylish exists, but instead of it spurring purchases from fast-fashion retailers like H&M or Zara, it has contributed to a trend towards sustainable items. A whopping 93 percent of Gen-Z believes brands have an obligation to stand up for environmental issues and it shows in their shopping habits.
Retailers like One432, which uses 50 percent of their net profits to support female artisans and child education in Pakistan, have built their businesses on sustainability and social impact, which resonates with younger generations. Thrift stores and resale platforms such as Poshmark and ThreadUp are becoming increasingly popular among Gen-Zers looking to reduce their carbon footprint. Over the last two years alone, Gen-Z has stimulated a 46 percent increase in secondhand purchases, providing an exponential boost to the sustainable retail industry.
Gen-Z also values authentic, transparent retailers and is less likely to be brand loyal compared to slightly older millennials. With buying power of more than $140 billion, it’s in the best interest of brands everywhere to take note of Gen Z’s environmental concern and some retailers are doing exactly that. OOKIOH, a maker of modern-day swimwear, is able to connect with Gen-Z through its use of 100-percent regenerated materials made from ocean waste like sunken fishing nets. Another retailer, For Days, offers completely recyclable clothing, as well as a closed loop system that makes it possible for shoppers to buy, swap and earn. It’s these type of business practices that catch the attention of Gen-Z and encourage them to open their wallets.
As environmental and social concerns keep growing, Gen-Z is likely to continue rejecting fast fashion in favor of sustainability. Whether it’s previously loved or recycled, this consumer group is bringing the demand for environmentally friendly goods to the forefront. Retailers that aren’t already pumping new life into their sustainability practices are at risk of being left behind by Gen-Z and other generations to follow.
At D.O.B, we are committed to discovering brands and designers whose roots are sustainable, inclusive and local. Join us on our journey to explore, question and help evolve sustainability in the fashion industry.