The inevitable transition is here. Whether fashionable millennials are still coming to terms with it or are gladly prepared to pass the baton, it’s clear that Gen Z fashion girls are setting the trends. Look, for example, at 20-year-old Youtube sensation Emma Chamberlain’s ongoing partnership with Louis Vuitton. And, not to mention that she almost single-handedly led the return of flared leggings. Similarly, 18-year-old musician Olivia Rodrigo’s vintage style — a 1994 Moschino cardigan and skirt set, a circa 1995 Chanel suit for a visit to the White House, and *that* Roberto Cavalli dress à la 2003 Britney Spears — have caused a major stir. Megastars aside, however, you don’t have to look much further than TikTok and Instagram’s Gen Z fashion content creators for a look at what’s up next.
Gen Zers are shopping for more than just fashion’s latest trend. Their choices also reflect their commitment to sustainability and longevity. “I’m entering a new personal fashion era where all the pieces I am drawn to are ones I envision myself in forever,” 21-year old content creator Rayan Hassan tells TZR. When she’s not shopping young contemporary brands such as Réalisation Par or Musier Paris, she’s dabbling in second-hand garments from Depop or Vestiaire Collective. “[Their] message about sustainability is so important,” Hassan says, speaking to Vestiaire Collective’s work with the Slow Factory. “A lot of my most precious pieces are from [there].”
So what are TikTok’s — and nearly synonymous Gen Z’s — greatest hits? Think bursts of tie-dye, ‘90s accessories, matching sets, pleated skirts, fun knits, anything with cutouts, and the anti-skinny jean. You can finally consider Gen Z style demystified as six fashion-conscious content creators break down exactly what lives on their wish lists ahead.
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If your current lineup of coats, cardigans, or even tops don’t feel as dramatic as you’d like, the Gen Z solution is simple (and quite posh) — just add a fur trim. For Hassan, it’s a pre-loved Karen Millen shearling coat she’s had her eye on. “[The style] is extra. [It’s] a little out there, but that is very much [its] charm,” Hassan tells TZR. “I think it adds a lot of character to an outfit. It’s fun, and that's what fashion is all about.” Though “extra” it may inherently be, a furry-trimmed jacket can be both playful and elegant — a great way to finish off an outfit.
As a creative-minded dresser, content creator Ruby Lyn’s closet is full of pieces she likes to mix and match in creative ways. “I think it’s so much fun to play around with layering, especially in the fall,” the 21-year-old tells TZR. “I do a lot of blouses under a vest, or color popping of sweaters.” For Lyn, second-hand shopping is key for curating pieces you’re less likely to see on others, especially styles with unexpected prints or colors. Try a turtleneck under a vest for that preppy grandpa vibe, allow a deep V to effortlessly showcase your T-shirt underneath, or have a ruffled sleeve hem jut out from your sweater sleeve for added texture.
Gen Z’s love of past trends doesn’t stop at the cheekiness of the Y2K revival or the effortlessness of ‘90s-reminiscent style. The corset, a centuries-old style revived by designers such as Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier in the 1980s, has become a favorite. “I’ve been obsessed with handmade corsets with unique prints,” fashion influencer Tanya Ravichandran tells TZR. “I think [they’re] a great choice for layering, so they can match almost any season.” Luckily, a bulk of small corset designers have cropped up on Instagram, Depop, Etsy and the like (Ravichandran notes Ren Atelier as a new favorite). From styles leaning on whimsical fairycore to a more sultry Hollywood glam, you can expect to see the garment juxtaposed against baggy jeans or heightened with a satin maxi skirt.
Gen Z may be the ultimate band of trendsetters, but oftentimes, the styles that guide their shopping habits aren’t so trend-driven at all. “I love elevated basics that can go with many things in my closet,” model and fashion influencer Renee Bellerive tells TZR. “I try not to purchase anything too ‘trendy’ because at some point it will be overdone.” While Bellerive does love statement vintage pieces (exhibit A above: Roberto Cavalli jeans from Depop), the 19-year-old keeps a well-balanced closet by shopping for basics that are stylish with an interesting detail. Ironically, in the end, these are also the styles that end up letting your few statement pieces do all the talking. Think: a white tank spiced up with cutout details, a pair of straight-leg jeans with a coated finish, mesh tops in go-to neutral tones, and crop tops with asymmetric hemlines.
All Things Nostalgic
For content creator and model Sumbo Owoyele, fashion-forward sitcoms of the early aughts, such as Moesha and Girlfriends, along with music videos from the likes of Aaliyah and TLC are major style inspirations. “I think [the ‘70s, ‘90s, and ‘00s] eras represent the Gen Z women [well],” Owoyele tells TZR. “[They] explore freedom, rise in party culture, and female liberation.” Euphoric, psychedelic prints, 2000s mini skirts, and low rise jeans are high up on the 21-year old’s shopping list.
Model and actor Carolina Marie has the preppy-classic look down to a science. “My inspiration comes from Grace Kelly, Brigitte Bardot, and ‘90s supermodels,” Marie tells TZR. “I always need a mini pleated skirt, platform shoes, and a leather coat. Since I live in New York, it’s an easy go-to look for when I’m running errands or hanging out with friends and I want to look put together.” When you take a closer look at Marie’s Instagram, it’s clear that the secret ingredient to pulling classic looks into the modern sphere lies in her subtle, contemporary styling. To balance out the preppiness of a micro mini, pair it with tall leather boots; accessorize with a waist bag instead of a handbag; pair your bottoms with a cropped argyle sweater versus a full length style; or similarly, layer a cropped button-down shirt under a tie.