Gen Z, the generation born between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s, is revolutionizing the fashion industry with their conscious consumption habits, focus on sustainability, and penchant for self-expression. A recent report by Depop, a popular marketplace app catering to Gen Z, and management consulting firm Bain & Company, sheds light on the values and perspectives that drive Gen Z’s shopping behavior.

The comprehensive report, titled “Futureproof: How Gen Z’s empathy, awareness and fluidity are transforming business as usual,” draws insights from a survey of more than 2,000 Depop buyers and sellers in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. It uncovers that Gen Z shoppers place significant importance on brands’ sustainability credentials, both in terms of social and environmental issues. Astonishingly, 70% of respondents stated that fashion companies’ commitment to fair wages and safety influence their purchasing decisions, while 60% highlighted the significance of diversity, inclusion, and brands’ efforts to reduce their environmental footprints.

What makes Gen Z’s commitment to sustainability compelling is that it extends beyond mere concern. According to the report, an overwhelming 90% of surveyed Depop users have actively taken steps to lead more sustainable lives. These steps include everyday actions such as recycling (mentioned by 75% of respondents), reducing fashion consumption (70%), and repairing clothing (60%). Moreover, 55% of respondents reported consuming environmentally friendly food, 35% claimed to minimize their usage of plastic, and 45% stated that they exclusively buy secondhand clothing.

The rise of secondhand fashion is a remarkable trend among Gen Z shoppers. Depop’s study reveals that 75% of the platform’s Gen Z users opt for secondhand items as a way to reduce their overall consumption. The allure of lower prices (as mentioned by 65% of respondents) and the opportunity to find unique pieces (55%) were cited as top motivations for purchase. The combination of individuality, self-expression, and sustainability makes secondhand fashion an attractive choice for Gen Z consumers.

Importantly, Gen Z’s conception of individuality does not involve standing out from the crowd, but rather finding a sense of community. The report highlights that Gen Z shapes and refines their individuality through conversations with others. In the digital age, online communities play an integral role in fostering this sense of belonging and self-expression. Social media, in particular, serves as a significant source of inspiration for Gen Z, with 80% of survey respondents acknowledging its impact. Additionally, friends (60%) also play a crucial role in shaping their fashion choices, while traditional media like TV, magazines, and billboards have less influence.

To capture the attention of Gen Z and leverage their interest in secondhand fashion, the report proposes a shift in approach for brands. It recommends focusing on storytelling and community building, rather than solely promoting newness. Fashion newness can be embedded in the content and experience surrounding products, creating excitement through the discovery of unique items. Cultivating connections and conversations among peers are crucial elements that enhance the emotional experience of newness for Gen Z.

Founded in 2011, Depop has established itself as a community-driven digital fashion marketplace, boasting over 21 million users. The platform’s emphasis on sustainability and promotion of secondhand fashion align perfectly with Gen Z’s values and preferences. As Gen Z continues to exert influence in the fashion industry, brands must take note of their conscious consumption, sustainability concerns, and desire for self-expression through community-driven platforms like Depop.

Useful links:
1. Depop
2. Bain & Company Report