Does Gen Z Have Bad Fashion Taste?
If there’s one thing we can say about Gen Z, it’s that the press loves to hate on us.
“Gen Z has a short-attention span”
“Gen Z is addicted to technology”
“Gen Z is too opinionated”
I believe the saying goes, “all press is good press,” but I’ll entertain the thought that maybe we are not perfect…
Every semester, I empty out my closet and stare in horror at all the clothes that are not “trendy” anymore. One second everyone’s dropping $200 on Aritzia Melina Pants and the next we find out leather pants are “cheugy.” You’ve probably heard the term microtrend by now and it seems to be Gen Z’s kryptonite. The 2010s were a game of hot potato jumping from skinny jeans, to infinity scarves, to lace up going out tops. More recently, we’ve seen trends come and go at an even faster rate with TikTok and Instagram.
This begs the question: Does Gen Z have bad fashion taste?
Many teens cherish their parents’ hand me downs from slip dresses to vintage Levis. When we look at our own closets it’s hard to tell what will actually be worth keeping to pass down. I have a feeling our kids aren’t going to be fighting over the $5 SheIn top we wore once to a party. When we look at the key difference between Gen Z fashion and the generations before us, there seems to be a clear lack of permanence. This likely stems from our “short attention span,” inclination towards microtrends, and constant need to be at the cutting edge of fashion.
Our generation is an oxymoron. On one hand we’re fighting for sustainability and critiquing brands on their social impact, and on the other, we are the consumers of fast fashion. As we get older, we learn to critique ourselves and consider what we can do better. Yet, we still succumb to social pressure when it comes to certain trends and styles.
What even is Gen Z fashion? When I think of the trends associated with our generation, many of them are not particularly classy, nor did they last more than two to three years. In essence, Gen Z “fashion” seems to be taking what someone else is wearing and mass adopting it. That’s how you end up at a party where every girl is in the same blue jeans and black top. The same viral wide leg pants from Zara, colorful knit crochet cardigans, and Amazon dupes of the House of Sunny Hockney dress.
Recently, we’ve been seeking inspiration from generations before us such as the resurgence of Y2K and 90s fashion staples. I’m a fan of both of these time periods and of the many trends that have resurfaced, but what scares me is the groupthink that surrounds them. We seem to lack individuality as we continue to unanimously wear certain pieces. If you genuinely love butterfly clips, then by all means wear them, but first ask yourself… is this my style?
To Gen Z’s credit, I think we have shown some collective self-awareness of the issues with our approach to fashion. Fashion influencers and writers (including in this publication) alike have pushed conversations on building “capsule wardrobes,” finding go-to timeless pieces we can mix and match, and shopping for second hand clothing, all in service of crafting a more permanent wardrobe that still feels fresh and versatile.
To answer the question of whether we have bad fashion taste, I think calling our taste “bad” is harsh. Rather, Gen Z can improve our approach to style. We can treat it less temporarily. We can stop succumbing to the virality of products and niche looks. Most importantly, we can ask ourselves critically if every product we buy will still be meaningful to us a year from now. We can educate ourselves on different fabrics and seek silhouettes that fit our body types, instead of just what is trending. Every generation hones some timeless trends as well as some cringeworthy looks. I’m optimistic that our fashion taste is in for a resurrection arc. We have some work to do, but if we’re going down in the press, it better not be for poor fashion taste.