The Nuances of Gen Z Fashion: Three Up and Coming Companies on the Pulse

by Amir Bakian

While fashion magazines and blogs have long noted (and largely snarked at) Gen Z’s affinity for resurrecting 1990s and 2000s trends, the pandemic revealed a more nuanced side to this generation. In January, for example, Vogue Business published a (shockingly) serious profile of Gen Z. As it turns out, the newest generation is emerging from the lockdown era in the driver’s seat, no longer content to follow anyone else’s trends. Many are already business owners and working as their own bosses, but their ambitions are not limited to making money or being influencers. According to the fashion bible, what’s most important to these young fashionistas is “maintaining their values of authenticity, community and sustainability while building their brands.”

The meaning of each of these words has shifted since 2019, however. Authenticity, for example, is very much about personalization, while community increasingly means a digital space like the Metaverse or a digital community like a digital autonomous organization (DAO). With that in mind, here are three companies that emerged in sync with Gen Z and on the pulse of the future of fashion values: personalization, sustainability and digitalization.

Aria Noir — Sustainability
Aria Noir is a fashion-forward designer brand inspired by artists like Rich Rasta, the Trinidadian- Canadian recording artist, and musician Jalal, who currently serves as its brand ambassador. Aria Noir is focusing on sustainability in a number of ways, most fundamentally its use of organic materials like alpaca fibers and soon, ethically-sourced gold. Setting a high bar for quality, Aria Noir claims to design for designers. “We pattern ourselves after perfection,” says Jalal. “We’re aligning our enterprise along the equilibrium of things both pretty and practical.”

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One interesting factor regarding Aria Noir’s creations is the brand’s reference to geometry as “sacred,” an uncommon fashion sentiment reflected in its sophisticated designs and patterns. But the complexity belies a focus on doing more with less. Continues Jalal: “We plan to reside in a niche space of limited-edition designer items of incredible value; whose materials, design, and craftsmanship are self-authenticating. Our artistic endeavor is driven by the passion of the creative process, ever searching for the ultimate ‘product’ of orchestrated talent for the enjoyment of our customers.” In short, Aria Noir has positioned itself as the opposite of McFashion, a label that values quality over quantity. The brand’s next planned step is an ambitious push into the Metaverse via infinitely sustainable NFTs.

ShopThing — Digitalization
Gen Z is the first digitally-native generation, and it shows. Far from confining its tastes to goofy TikTok videos or live-streamed influencer sales marathons, although, Gen Z is using technology to redefine shopping itself. Maggie Adhami-Boynton, a 15-year startup veteran, founded ShopThing with the Gen Z in mind. ShopThing is one of North America’s first live video commerce platforms and is focused on creating a culture of diversity and inclusion; a digital community supportive of all identities and backgrounds. Its website points out that the ShopThing leadership team is 75% women and 100% persons of color.

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ShopThing is pushing the definition of equity in shopping via its new app, which doesn’t discriminate by geography — a refreshing change, since many Gen Zers moved on from urban playgrounds during the pandemic, some permanently. “ShopThing is perfect for the shopper who doesn’t live in a big city with designer sample sales or the best outlet malls,” says Adhami-Boynton. “Even if you just hate trying things on in stores now, we’ve got you.” ShopThing has hired an army of personal shoppers and influencers who give its members front row access to the hottest sales and best prices around. Think StitchFix, but more dynamic, fun, and a lot cheaper.

KingPro — Personalization
Speaking of fun, what could be more delightful than creating something just for yourself or a loved one? Startup KingPro is upping the game in the custom fashion space by working with artists, influencers, and businesses in order to develop brands and drive additional revenues through custom products, including the time-honored screenprinting. “We concentrate on what makes a brand, influencer or business special then develop fully custom products that resonate with their fan base to drive sales and increase brand impressions,” says the company’s founder, Dani Diarbakerly. KingPro’s specialty is elevating personal brands, which is itself a custom-fit for an ambitious generation that’s all about being the boss and valuing personal style over wearing a label. After all, personalization is all about expressing individuality, and KingPro is probably the first company to elevate individualism to haute couture because, at the end of the day, fashion is still about quality.

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Presented by: Ascend Agency

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