How Gen Z Has Made A More Body Conscious Fashion Industry
For years, droves of women flocked to magazine stands and gazed at billboards seeking inspiration from the long, lean models that graced their presences. Fashion brands aimed to make the models appear beautifully unattainable so that the women who saw them would buy their clothes in hopes of reaching that standard. Imagine the disappointment of a woman when she tried on the clothes and came to the realization that there was no garment that could make her what she wanted to be – what the fashion industry told her she should be – a size 0. This cycle of comparison has created unrealistic expectations of womens’ bodies and has been the bedrock of health trends and diet culture for years attracting women who longed to achieve billboard status.
Enter: Gen Z
Being the first generation to have been exposed to social media their entire lives, Gen Z has grown very accustomed to interacting with brands online. They understand that brands value feedback and generally don’t mind sharing their opinions. Collections of commentaries surrounding brand advertisements have created an awareness for what clothing brands have been lacking which is body diversity in their marketing campaigns. Historically, women in plus size ranges have not felt represented in many forms of fashion advertising.
Gen Z has grown up in online spaces where it is demanded that people be authentic in their content. Since authenticity is demanded of Gen Z, they in turn demand it of brands. They can go to any social media app to find women of all sizes being represented in their personal feeds, but fashion advertising hasn’t been adequately reflective of these women. In an article from Vogue titled “Gen Z Is Redefining What ‘Sexy’ Means,” author Olivia Petter asserts that “Today’s young women are being exposed to a different mode of beauty, one that hasn’t been distorted by out-of-touch marketing executives…” Gen Z is increasingly aware of body diversity and have pushed brands to reflect that in their advertising. Most women are now able to say that they have felt misrepresented by the fashion industry. While not to insinuate that fashion brands’ catalogs haven’t included plus sizes for their products, the holes in their marketing campaigns appealing to plus sized women have been prevalent.
Using their presence on social media Gen Z has pushed brands to evolve their fashion advertising to encompass all sizes of women. Fashion has seen many smaller clothing brands encompass Gen Z’s ideals and gain popularity in the market while many larger brands are still reluctant to change their messaging. It seems that the rift created with Gen Z by traditional fashion advertisers will continue to widen. While it may be harder for Gen Z to shift the mindset of the industry at large the attitude of consumers has certainly been affected. Even though Gen Z is still largely in its formative years its condemnation of nonrepresentative brands has opened doors for other diversity groups to demand to be more adequately depicted in the media. This progress suggests that even though there is still a lot of head way to be made for brands to be completely inclusive, body diversity seems to be just the beginning for Gen Z.