Gen X calls Gen Z

We are at a pivotal moment in fashion that scientifically has been recognized the fourth modern revolution. If you have been in in like I have for 3 decades, you feel it’s the turning point. When I read books and watch movies about the industrial revolution of the beginning of the 19th century, you palpably feel the conditions are similar and we will see the light at the end of the tunnel.

There are three generations currently grinding in the fashion world: Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z and the dynamics are diverse, at times crashing, at times colliding.

The following are some of my personal findings.

Premise: I do find a lot of affinity with Gen Z, and very little with Millennials. And not only because I am the procreator of one. I also attribute it to a personal struggle: growing up I was never the recipient of any type of social or psychologically support or understanding from my parents, the policy of “we don’t talk about it and we make it disappear” and, as a parent, I have opted for the educated decision of the “what not to dos” in case of. Have you ever screamed “you don’t understand me, I will never do this to my child”? I may have taken those moments seriously, hence my open, honest, dirty truth clean conversation with my daughter and her friends eased my mind in the process of beginning to understand their way of thinking. There are still many obscure areas, no easy feat, but I still don’t understand myself most of the times.

An interesting research came out that explains how can Gen Xers market and target Gen Zers and the findings are a corroboration of my positive personal and professional dynamics.

Provided that the word authenticity has become omnipresent, in many cases an overused empty vessel to make people think they are cool, like the echo when you scream in the valley, n.1 lesson is let’s fill it with meaningful actions and integrity. In other words, the good old marketing speak will not cut the chase with Gen Z, the same way that “because I said so” didn’t cut it for us.

How do we earn trust? How do we sit with them?

  1. Catch their attention;

  2. Tell the truth;

  3. Treat them as individuals;

  4. Practice what you preach;

  5. Focus on brand values;

  6. Admit you don’t know anything

And honestly my jaw dropped and if you re-read it, yours will too.

There goes, in 5 steps, the way out of climate and environmental emergencies, fast fashion, and humanitarian crisis. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is called “common sense”.

We have grown accustomed to believing that we had nothing to wear and we had to keep buying for this occasion or that event, that we needed a straw to drink (when as children couldn’t wait to drink from the glass instead of the bottle), that tomatoes are available all year round and they are to be impeccably shining and eerily identical in shape. Gen Z communicate via video and SMS with acronyms and Emojis, like the 2000’s version of the Morse alphabet, they rarely talk over the phone, but when they do is cut the crap, 1,2,3 arranged. Have you tried having a conversation with an adult? There’s always another call coming in, no presence or existence in the moment, attention is gone.

The kids held a handheld screen before flipping the pages of a book, they are fast. Have you ever tried to tell them a news? Answer is: yes it came out yesterday, and they are present to the news, have their formulated opinion and can easily handle a conversation about it in a room full of adults. We would read the news in the newspaper only after our parents (and on Sundays our grandfather) had read it before, they watch Snapchat news, which, if you haven’t tried them, are fast and furious and they skip and jump, from politics to Hollywood via Greenpeace. They are politically savvy, they know how to sniff the bs from far away, they can’t wait to be able to vote, they want their vote to count, you can’t be admitted to the conversation if you aren’t remotely interesting, which means, first of all, “practice what you preach”. If you think you know it all, please kiss yourself good bye, maybe your kid will be the only one listening to you because he has no other choice.

How to get them interested in your brand, product or idea? “you need to cut through millions of bytes of trash before you can even think of capturing their attention” says the article, and if they smell adulting you stand no chances, count within adulting knowing it all.

Now, frankly speaking, isn’t an adult that talks about irrelevant stuff, that isn’t moved by a purpose or a cause other than shoveling something under your nose for you to purchase with the because I said so attitude, the most annoying individual?

These are kids born with the Catholic church’s sexual scandal under their nose, as well as with the Kardashians and Love Island on repeat whether they like it or not, they have a psychologist and a psychiatrist on speed dial, they smell bluffing like a white truffle dog.

The difference with us? We fell in the trap of mindless consumerism, i’d give us power, the thrill of fast fashion, the advent of social media and the rush of WiFi, and we used and abused nature like there’s no tomorrow.

They see no tomorrow, they ask questions, they make educated decisions based on science, facts, research and they stick by their ethical principles, they aren’t told “God exist, have faith” they ask you “Prove it”, they shop and live their values.

How do we become cool like internet favorite daddy Jeff Goldbloom? Lead by example, drop the big pants adult cape, remember when you were a teenager, but make it 2019, don’t just blame the times and praise the good old times, use the good of the good ol’ times to show the kids how things can be done. Every single moment, revolution, movement started small and with difficulties, but started with one person, it could be you, your grandmother or your child, as long as believes, principles, and passions are solid, there’s no stopping.

Do you think can you find a calling in that? Don’t we all want a future, at least for the kids and their kids? I was privileged to learn from my grand parents and great grandparents, the same way I am humbled to actually learn from the kids, especially if that means teaching them in college. Without losing focus, though: keep it sustainable chic.