How brand values matter to Gen Z
February 11, 2020

By Irine Le

Transparency and authenticity have completely transformed Generation Z’s consumption habits.

My middle school years of 2010-2013 were marked by an embarrassing obsession with garish fast-fashion brands like Forever 21, Wet Seal, and Charlotte Russe. What do you mean I could easily buy a $5 crop top, without thinking about how it affected the environment or the people working to create those clothes? These stores revolutionized fast fashion both online and in stores for shoppers worldwide—myself included.

Fast forward to my junior year of college last fall in the Union Square neighborhood of New York City—right off the 14th Street MTA stop was a sprawling multi-story Forever 21 bankrupt and going out of business. This wasn’t just the case for this particular NYC location, but for 200 other Forever 21 locations across the world, according to CNN.

What happened over the years that caused Gen Z influencers to steadily reject fast fashion? The New York Times has called this phenomenon “a sign of the eroding power of shopping malls and the shifting tastes of consumers.”

My first experience with learning about the importance of transparency for brand values came during a lesson about ethical consumption in my AP Human Geography class, when I was 15. We watched a video from American Apparel’s factory located in Los Angeles and watched how a garment was created from beginning to end. We saw the people sewing the clothes, the packing and distribution. The video shifted how I view consumption and was one of the defining factors that led me to ditch fast fashion.

Transparency is a trait that Everlane, an ethical clothing brand, prides itself on. Visitors are able to see their factory conditions, the clothing-creation process, and read the workers’ biographies on the website. Everlane is known for its “transparent pricing” model that shows how much money goes into the materials, labor, hardware, and transport of each garment.

How has this affected Generation Z Influencers? For Gen Z creatives, the importance of ethical brand values in consumerism is absolutely vital. Gen Z consumers research brands online before buying. That’s why brands in this age must have a strong online presence and ethical production. Does your brand need online help? Contact us—Adolescent—an advertising agency in Los Angeles for access to a full database of Gen Z creatives, Gen Z directors, Generation Z media, Gen Z ads, Gen Z photographers and Generation Z influencers.

In a recent Future of Humanity poll from the University of Oxford, 41% of 18- to 25-year-olds across 22 different countries cited climate change as the most pressing issue in the world. In 2019, CBS News said, “the fast fashion industry’s carbon impact was bigger than the airline industry’s.” Fast fashion is detrimental to the environment; large amounts of nonrenewable resources go into creating each clothing piece, and many trends and styles are thrown out once the trend is over.

While some ethical clothing brands can range in the high double-digits for just a pair of jeans, many Gen Zers have found thrifting to be a great, cheaper alternative. In 2019 that 90% of the active 15 million Depop users were under the age of 26, most falling under the Gen-Z category.

The shift in embracing ethical and transparent brand values over fast fashion has revolutionized Generation Z’s consumption habits. It’s reflective of how politically and socially aware Gen Z is—Generation Z media and Generation Z ads have to reflect that.

If your business is looking to advertise to a Gen Z audience, contact our Generation Z advertising agency in Los Angeles today so our team can help!