The first time I heard the phrase “Gen Z Yellow” was in reference to a clip of Kylie Jenner eating a banana. To be clear, I would have much rather watched Kourtney eat a kit kat for the 50th time, but I respect Kylie for helping me along in my cultural education.
For those of you who have been living as normal, respectable people do, you probably missed out on the fashion world’s recent obsession with what has been deemed Gen Z Yellow.
Like Millennial Pink, Gen Z Yellow is not one particular shade, but rather a spectrum of several shades. Though there is no singular definition, I think Vogue put it best, describing it as “somewhere between a marigold and the shade of French’s mustard.”
Gen Z Yellow isn’t in your face. If anything, it’s the color equivalent to “good vibes only” and the closest thing to a tangible happiness that our world will ever get. This year, it made quite the splash (get it?) amongst the street style crowd of high end fashion. To name a standout, just look at this photo below of Giovanna Battaglia Englebert looking like the second coming of Cher Horowitz at a showing of her younger sister Sara’s eponymous fashion line.
Though a visual understanding is essential, what’s more important (at least in my opinion) is an understanding of the color’s significance.
Why are we so obsessed with defining our generation by a color?
The easy answer would be to say that we aren’t, but this clearly isn’t true. I’ll be the first person to admit that I spent three months trying to find the perfect Millennial Pink jacket for my springtime photo shoot—otherwise known as the denouement of my ongoing quest for a decent profile pic. You can call me crazy, but you can’t say it’s really that surprising.
Bloggers have often tried to make our obsession with these colors broader statements about our traits as a generation. In Millennial Pink, we are rejecting gender norms, a reclamation that I’m here for, but would ultimately prefer not to be rooted in my clothing choice. In Gen Z Yellow we have suddenly found a medium for which our “out of the box thinking” and “free-spirited quirkiness” can manifest. If I’m being honest again, all of this sounds like a former horse girl’s tumblr or some wacky reddit thread, and I’m definitely not here for that.
I’ve always liked pink, and in recent years yellow has become my favorite color. Yet I never felt the pull to buy that jacket or get a pic with the Lay’s chip bag sitting in my trash can until similar images flooded my social media timelines and daily life. At the end of the day, Millennial Pink and Gen Z Yellow are simply colors. Like everything else, the more you see them, the more you want them. It has nothing to do with the year you were born.
The rise of Gen Z Yellow and the fall of Millennial Pink doesn’t represent generational difference. I like frosé just as much as my 32-year-old cousin, and she can appreciate a tasteful yellow just as much as I can. Forcing these color schemes to signify dichotomies of one generation versus the other is setting ourselves up to be exploited by retailers in the name of trend. In attaching an arbitrary link between fashion and culture, we create meaningless sentiments that are as unwarranted as they are false. I have a minimal understanding of consumer behavior, but even I know that slapping on a trendy label makes a marketing team’s work a lot easier.
We live in the age of overlap. Social media gives us access to everyone’s everything–boundaries between you and your kindergarten teacher are practically non-existent, let alone you and someone a few years older. It’s (almost) entirely harmless to attach these monikers to what are ultimately nothing more than trendy color schemes, so long as we make them meaningless. I love these trendy color schemes, and really hope they stick around. Millennial Pink complements my uneven skin tone, and Gen Z Yellow will make me stand-out in my yellow rain slicker as more than just a caricature of Paddington Bear’s trashy American cousin. So let’s just keep it simple guys, because truthfully, attaching anything more to a color is just…weird.