IS GENERATION Z’S SOCIAL MEDIA LENS MAKING MENS WEAR’S HISTORY IRRELEVANT?
When I was growing up in the 1990s, you had fan merchandise and you had fashion. A Michael Jackson Dangerous
World Tour T- shirt w as c onsidered a t r ibal badge of belonging, whereas a Calvin Klein cK Jeans T- shirt was considered a s tatus symbol.
To Generat ion Z - those born i n 1995 onwards - these t wo object ives seem to have merged. Designers are now superstars on a par with actors and singers, and their logos signify way more than just fandom. They tell your peers, no doubt as hyper-informed as you are, that you ‘get it’, even if you don’t really get what it is you’re get t i ng. The at once amazing and detrimental impact of Generation Z will be their willingness to make a star out of anything that gets enough likes on Instagram. There will b e n o s uch t hing a s n iche o r underground f ashion i n the f uture.
Ever y designer, big or smal l , is magni f ied through the lens of social media. However whi le the wave of streetwear we’re currently seeing wi l l continue due to the new generation’s at t it ude to dress codes, I think the future of menswear will be even more referential than it i s now.
The current generation of emerging designers in London is referencing true design geniuses like John Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier and Vivienne Westwood. In Par i s, they’re al l about the great conceptualists such a s Martin Margiela and Helmut Lang. As social media continues to develop, I think this sense of nostalgia-fuelled niche knowledge will broaden even more, get more esoteric and more obscure, and chal lenge that t r ibal sense of status and belonging of al l the new fashion kids out there. The menswear you’re seen in wi l l be testament to your arcane comprehension of al l these things. We can only hope t he appreciat ion of craf t smanship, excel lence and design genius of the old guard wi l l inspire Generation Z - of ten associated with f idget spinners and Supreme toothbrushes - to be as analytical and thought-provoking i n their own approach to f ashion. As long as it aspires to change the world through weeks of handwork, I don’t see anything wrong with a t racksuit.