Gen Z has grown up never knowing a world without the internet, and many have had their entire lives documented in photos and videos on social media.
- Generation Z has grown up never knowing a time without social media. Many have had their entire lives documented in photos and videos on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.
- Experts say that because of this, Gen Zers feel pressure to dress in new clothes and in unique ways to set themselves apart from the crowd.
- This, combined with the rise of more sustainable fashion, is fueling growth in unconventional modes of shopping, such as rental and resale.
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Gen Z doesn't remember a time without social media, and many will have their entire lives documented online.
"They are the most photographed generation in the world's history," Jason Dorsey, a Gen Z expert and consultant who has delivered a TEDx Talk on this generation, recently told Business Insider.
Because of this, there's a need to always be wearing something new.
In the past, this thirst for newness would have been easily quenched by shopping at fast-fashion stores such as H&M and Forever 21, which are churning out new styles on a daily basis. But, another characteristic of this generation is that they're leading a movement away from fast fashion because they are more environmentally conscious than their predecessors.
Other modes of shopping, such as rental and resale, are becoming increasingly popular among teens.
"Gen Z is shopping a lot more for secondhand clothing than previous generations," Jessica Pruitt, an associate manager of marketing at Buffalo Exchange — a thrift store that buys and sells used clothing at 49 stores across the US — told Business Insider. "There is less stigma around this."
Online resale site ThredUp estimates that one-third of Gen Z shoppers will buy used clothing in 2019.
"There is an obsession with freshness," Karen Clark, the vice president of marketing communications at ThredUp, told Business Insider, adding that the company posts 1,000 new items online every hour.
Secondhand shopping also affords Gen Z the chance to dress in unique ways. They use thrift stores to build their own identity and create their own story, Lennox Thomas, Goodwill NYNJ's executive vice president for retail operations, told Business Insider.
For the same reasons, clothing rental has become the latest trend to hit the fashion industry.
"In more and more categories, consumers are choosing to rent rather than own goods outright," a group of writers wrote in Business of Fashion's State of Fashion report for 2019, naming Netflix, Spotify, and ZipCar as examples. If millennials aren't buying houses, cars, or the latest movie, why would they keep buying clothes?
"This is a fundamental evolution in consumer behavior and we expect it will have an impact in the fashion business in the years ahead," they wrote.
While Rent the Runway, a clothing-rental service targeted at millennial women, has paved the way here, other more teen-focused brands such as American Eagle and Urban Outfitters have also jumped on the bandwagon.
"There is a trend toward clothes having a second life or being used again," Chad Kessler, global brand president at American Eagle, recently told Business Insider.
He continued: "This is part of their focus on quality, value, and thoughtful purchasing, and I think these [rental services] are just different ways for them to participate."