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Is Gen – Z Driving the Change for Rewearing and Repurposing?


It was recently reported that Primark – the popular budget fashion brand had suffered a fourth quarter sales slump (The Independent), with the retailer putting the blame firmly on the pandemic because of store closures, a lack of online presence and the supply issues leading to a shortage of stock. However, whilst Primark, which has been at the centre of ‘throwaway fashion’ and has previously been accused by MPs of ‘contributing to the 300,000 tonnes of clothes sent to landfill every year in the UK’, find themselves committing to making ‘all of its clothes using recycled or more sustainable-sourced material by 2030’, it has to be asked, just how sustainable will Primark go in order to become more sustainable? Will it be an initiative of encouraging shoppers to reuse and recycle their old clothes whilst still seeking ‘throwaway fashion’ or will it be a case of using sustainable-sought materials and suppliers to produce their fast fashion collections?

One must also ask whether this a case of too little too late when the industry is seeing a shift towards a trend for showing off one’s individual and personal style by dressing more sustainably and wearing secondhand and ethical clothes? Whilst Primark has been at the centre of fast-fashion for the last few years, in a Gen-Z world, people are able to express their creativity in their clothing choices, garnishing likes/shares, comments and ultimately creating followers themselves. So much so, that social media can make an influencer out of someone and help them achieve celebrity-like status to their followers. So this begs the question, is secondhand personal style more influential than following celebrity fashion?

According to MediaKix – an Influencer marketing agency which has been monitoring the influencer market since 2011, Instagram’s influencer market share is estimated to be worth $1.7 billion dollars, with 89% of marketers saying that Instagram is the most important channel for influencer marketing. Move over to TikTok, which has quickly become one of the most popular platforms in the world in less than two years, and a rising platform for influencers. In fact, during the first lockdown in March 2020, the stay-at-home order only seems to have driven user growth in TikTok, becoming the most downloaded non-game app worldwide during March 2020 with more than 115.2 million app installs. 

With the pandemic keeping the country at home and shops being closed, people have been recreating their own style at home by recycling clothes that they haven’t worn in a while or giving new life to outfits by getting creative and adding their own individual style. Mix this in with people having more time to be on social media has made influencers out of some, with influencers now representing anything from clothes, jewellery, homeware to vehicles! 

What can often start out as a hobby is becoming a career to many as we see more and more social users uploading outfits of the day (#ootd), with many turning to preloved and sustainable outfit inspirations to not only increase their followings, but to also show brands the beliefs that they represent in order to catch their attention and seek a fulfilling partnership.

Take sustainable and secondhand fashion blogger, @venetialamanna – an anti-fast fashion campaigner who not only showcases her ‘outfits of the day’, sharing her thoughts/outfits/inspirations on fast fashion, but also showing off her preloved and sustainable outfit inspirations to her 140K followers. Venetia has managed to partner with an eyewear brand, skincare brand as well as becoming a Sustainability Ambassador for The Body Shop.

With the trend for fashion houses to work with influencers, we are seeing brands like Boohoo working with influencer turned reality celebrity Molly-Mae Hague, whilst luxury US etailer, FWRD, recently partnered with another reality star, Kendall Jenner. 

Says Ms Farleigh Hungerford, founder of Farly, a sustainable fashion-tech social marketplace:

“Major changes in consumers habits have shown trends are no longer dictated by brands but more by individuals. Now more than ever people are starting to value good curation as we start to appreciate a more considered product curation – being influenced by one’s social followers and community is helping drive this. People want to portray their individualism, set their own trends – all while being eco-conscious. We believe Gen-Z’s social shopping habits will continue to grow and there will be an eventual move away from fast fashion products to more responsibly sourced sustainable products where everyone will want to do more to look after the planet and products we buy. Ideally these changes will dramatically increase the life-cycle of garments, promote a circular economy and reduce carbon-cost-per-use.”

So whilst we see a change to people rewearing, repurposing and seeing a trend towards voicing their opinions through their personal fashion, we are witnessing partnerships for smaller short terms campaigns. It seems that celebrity fashion appears to be where long term partnerships are forged, meaning that over time, having the same celebrity ambassador at the forefront of your campaign, can be much more effective in the long term in getting a brand’s message out. 

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