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Marketing to Gen Z: Stylus Youth Style Collectives 2023

Published 22 September 2022

Authors
Ruth Slater
Stylus Fashion Team

How well is your business engaging with Gen Z?

In our recent suite of reports, Youth Style Collectives 23, Stylus’ experts have identified the five need-to-know cohorts to help you get closer to this complex, up-and-coming generation of consumers.

Exploring who and what influences each cohort, identifying their retail and engagement preferences, and spotlighting their favoured brands, designers and content creators, we provide an essential look at the powerful individuals of tomorrow.

 

This is your breakdown of the looks, lifescapes and brand preferences of the five core cohorts you need to know about when engaging with and marketing to Gen Z:

 

Sports-Luxe Sartorialists

The Look

Fluidity and versatility combined with a distinctive luxurious edge are key for this cohort. Fusing preppy bases (like oversized tailoring) with retro streetwear-led pieces, their look is elevated, androgenous and balances comfort with sophistication – leaving little distinction between dressed-up and casual styles.

 

The Lifescape

This group’s workleisure-inspired looks reflect their recent or impending entries into the workforce. They have a desire to romanticise the experience while maintaining a work-life balance – with clothing needing to cater to both. Sportswear has a large influence on this group, regardless of the individuals’ interests. Italian label Miu Miu recently capitalised on this with its Miu Miu Tennis Club event, which combined sports and leisure activities with an activewear-inspired retail pop-up.

 

The Brands

Swedish influencer Matilda Djerf’s seasonless label Djerf Avenue is an inspirational brand for the Sports-Luxe Sartorialists. It speaks to the sleek, elevated minimalism so integral to this group by merging office-appropriate attire with dressed-up everyday wear.

 

 

Karma Cooperative

The Look

Texture, surface interest and crafted quality are at the forefront of the Karma Cooperative’s fashion choices. Their stylistic tendencies are firmly casual and natural, but this look isn’t about being covered in loose layers. Body confidence is intrinsic to this cohort, with yoga-honed flesh reveals being part of their aesthetic.

 

The Lifescape

Creative connectivity, planetary health and spiritual wellbeing are all important for this group. Seeking nomadic spaces and wellness pursuits, they attend festivals like the UK’s Lost Village, where individuals experience craft workshops, yoga, holistic sound therapy and tarot readings in a serene woodland setting alongside music.

 

The Brands

With brands and designers building eco-conscious values into their product offerings, this cohort has room to explore nature-led aesthetics – not typically regarded as beautiful – over purely sustainable credentials. Goblincore, experimentalism, heritage and urban festival sensibilities all meet in a decorative melting pot. The Karma Cooperative reach for brands like Milan-based Garbage Core, which only uses deadstock materials and second-hand clothes in its collections.

 

 

Empowered Experimentalists

The Look

Unapologetically absorbed in self-expression, the Empowered Experimentalists embrace play, joyful clutter, and bold colour. Post-lockdown optimism is evident as they amplify the celebration of gender, race, sexuality, and body shape.

 

The Lifescape

Eager to embrace community and identity, this cohort finds joy in expression and connection. This summer, British artist Adam Frost organised a monthly evening of queer celebration in Stoke Newington’s mezcal bar Doña with London’s most iconic club kids, drag artists and dancers.

 

The Brands

Brands and designers that have sustainability as a baseline, but also demonstrate an affinity for fun and nostalgia, are winning with this cohort. Independent designers are pushing the boundaries of kitsch whilst exploring futuristic silhouettes, like London- and Hong Kong-based fashion brand Celine Kwan, which makes sculptural garments that embody the 60s and 70s with a futuristic spin.

 

 

Virtual Vanguards

The Look

The Virtual Vanguard are just as comfortable in baggy jeans and Jordans on a night out as they are in virtual gowns and slinky clubwear. This urban group’s true home is in the infiniteness of cyberspace. With new metaverses and platforms growing into their own, this cohort is engaging with digital fashion and exploring creative expression more than ever before, shaping their virtual realities to match their wildest fantasies.

 

The Lifescape

Shifting away from mega-media platforms, the Virtual Vanguard are engaging with smaller communities and content creators. Venturing beyond the purely digital, they take part in activities like raving, attending festivals and travelling. Keen to have the option of switching between the digital and physical, events with hybrid elements are popular – making Germany-based Pylon-Lab’s phygital showcases, which explore time as an artistic medium, an attraction.  

 

The Brands

With no limit to their imagination, members of this cohort are gravitating towards softer, ethereal styles as they increasingly get in touch with their spiritual sides. Also important to the Virtual Vanguard is clubwear, as memories of lockdowns fade. They are enticed by brands like The Unseen (UK) – which just launched Colour Alchemy, the first heat-reactive, colour-changing hair dye – and Japanese “thermochromic” label Rensuke Tokyo (which applies the same tech to clothes).

 

 

Online & Underground

The Look

With a purposefully discordant visual effect, this cohort’s tastes and personal styling cues are eclectic, with ketamine chic and retro indie sleaze sitting at the heart of their look. They’re inspired by old-skool grunge, 2000s and 2010s nostalgia, and punk messiness. Internet culture, meme-based irony, and 2020s maximalism also play a key role in this mash-up aesthetic. Despite scant concern for sustainability credentials, thrifting and upcycling are embedded in the DNA of their look.

 

The Lifescape

With a lifestyle centred around gigs, clubs and party nights, this cohort enjoys live music often performed by lesser-known rappers and DJs, inspired in equal parts by goth/emo culture and rap/hip-hop acts. They are influenced by and feed off online culture, where they document their lives through Instagram stories, TikTok outfit checks, Pinterest mood boards, and widely circulated memes, sounds and opinions.

 

The Brands

This cohort’s brand preferences are eclectic, with some unexpected luxury-level influences contrasting with more obvious thrifted and upcycled go-tos. US label Chrome Hearts wins favour with its heavy-duty jewellery and sigil-inspired imagery, while online store Yard666sale offers upscaled, mismatched, thrifted and DIYed clothing produced from various readymade garments, which are then adorned with machine-stitched slogans and cartoon characters.

 

 

Now that you have an idea of how to better engage with Gen Z, you’re a step closer to honing the future-facing engagement, product and marketing strategies that will resonate with this key audience. Take a look at the handy infographic below to see how the beliefs, values and tastes of these cohorts overlap.

Exploring who and what influences each cohort, identifying their retail and engagement preferences, and spotlighting their favoured brands, designers and content creators, we provide an essential look at the powerful individuals of tomorrow.

 

This is your breakdown of the looks, lifescapes and brand preferences of the five core cohorts you need to know about when engaging with and marketing to Gen Z:

 

Sports-Luxe Sartorialists

The Look

Fluidity and versatility combined with a distinctive luxurious edge are key for this cohort. Fusing preppy bases (like oversized tailoring) with retro streetwear-led pieces, their look is elevated, androgenous and balances comfort with sophistication – leaving little distinction between dressed-up and casual styles.

 

The Lifescape

This group’s workleisure-inspired looks reflect their recent or impending entries into the workforce. They have a desire to romanticise the experience while maintaining a work-life balance – with clothing needing to cater to both. Sportswear has a large influence on this group, regardless of the individuals’ interests. Italian label Miu Miu recently capitalised on this with its Miu Miu Tennis Club event, which combined sports and leisure activities with an activewear-inspired retail pop-up.

 

The Brands

Swedish influencer Matilda Djerf’s seasonless label Djerf Avenue is an inspirational brand for the Sports-Luxe Sartorialists. It speaks to the sleek, elevated minimalism so integral to this group by merging office-appropriate attire with dressed-up everyday wear.

 

 

Karma Cooperative

The Look

Texture, surface interest and crafted quality are at the forefront of the Karma Cooperative’s fashion choices. Their stylistic tendencies are firmly casual and natural, but this look isn’t about being covered in loose layers. Body confidence is intrinsic to this cohort, with yoga-honed flesh reveals being part of their aesthetic.

 

The Lifescape

Creative connectivity, planetary health and spiritual wellbeing are all important for this group. Seeking nomadic spaces and wellness pursuits, they attend festivals like the UK’s Lost Village, where individuals experience craft workshops, yoga, holistic sound therapy and tarot readings in a serene woodland setting alongside music.

 

The Brands

With brands and designers building eco-conscious values into their product offerings, this cohort has room to explore nature-led aesthetics – not typically regarded as beautiful – over purely sustainable credentials. Goblincore, experimentalism, heritage and urban festival sensibilities all meet in a decorative melting pot. The Karma Cooperative reach for brands like Milan-based Garbage Core, which only uses deadstock materials and second-hand clothes in its collections.

 

 

Empowered Experimentalists

The Look

Unapologetically absorbed in self-expression, the Empowered Experimentalists embrace play, joyful clutter, and bold colour. Post-lockdown optimism is evident as they amplify the celebration of gender, race, sexuality, and body shape.

 

The Lifescape

Eager to embrace community and identity, this cohort finds joy in expression and connection. This summer, British artist Adam Frost organised a monthly evening of queer celebration in Stoke Newington’s mezcal bar Doña with London’s most iconic club kids, drag artists and dancers.

 

The Brands

Brands and designers that have sustainability as a baseline, but also demonstrate an affinity for fun and nostalgia, are winning with this cohort. Independent designers are pushing the boundaries of kitsch whilst exploring futuristic silhouettes, like London- and Hong Kong-based fashion brand Celine Kwan, which makes sculptural garments that embody the 60s and 70s with a futuristic spin.

 

 

Virtual Vanguards

The Look

The Virtual Vanguard are just as comfortable in baggy jeans and Jordans on a night out as they are in virtual gowns and slinky clubwear. This urban group’s true home is in the infiniteness of cyberspace. With new metaverses and platforms growing into their own, this cohort is engaging with digital fashion and exploring creative expression more than ever before, shaping their virtual realities to match their wildest fantasies.

 

The Lifescape

Shifting away from mega-media platforms, the Virtual Vanguard are engaging with smaller communities and content creators. Venturing beyond the purely digital, they take part in activities like raving, attending festivals and travelling. Keen to have the option of switching between the digital and physical, events with hybrid elements are popular – making Germany-based Pylon-Lab’s phygital showcases, which explore time as an artistic medium, an attraction.  

 

The Brands

With no limit to their imagination, members of this cohort are gravitating towards softer, ethereal styles as they increasingly get in touch with their spiritual sides. Also important to the Virtual Vanguard is clubwear, as memories of lockdowns fade. They are enticed by brands like The Unseen (UK) – which just launched Colour Alchemy, the first heat-reactive, colour-changing hair dye – and Japanese “thermochromic” label Rensuke Tokyo (which applies the same tech to clothes).

 

 

Online & Underground

The Look

With a purposefully discordant visual effect, this cohort’s tastes and personal styling cues are eclectic, with ketamine chic and retro indie sleaze sitting at the heart of their look. They’re inspired by old-skool grunge, 2000s and 2010s nostalgia, and punk messiness. Internet culture, meme-based irony, and 2020s maximalism also play a key role in this mash-up aesthetic. Despite scant concern for sustainability credentials, thrifting and upcycling are embedded in the DNA of their look.

 

The Lifescape

With a lifestyle centred around gigs, clubs and party nights, this cohort enjoys live music often performed by lesser-known rappers and DJs, inspired in equal parts by goth/emo culture and rap/hip-hop acts. They are influenced by and feed off online culture, where they document their lives through Instagram stories, TikTok outfit checks, Pinterest mood boards, and widely circulated memes, sounds and opinions.

 

The Brands

This cohort’s brand preferences are eclectic, with some unexpected luxury-level influences contrasting with more obvious thrifted and upcycled go-tos. US label Chrome Hearts wins favour with its heavy-duty jewellery and sigil-inspired imagery, while online store Yard666sale offers upscaled, mismatched, thrifted and DIYed clothing produced from various readymade garments, which are then adorned with machine-stitched slogans and cartoon characters.

 

 

Now that you have an idea of how to better engage with Gen Z, you’re a step closer to honing the future-facing engagement, product and marketing strategies that will resonate with this key audience. Take a look at the handy infographic below to see how the beliefs, values and tastes of these cohorts overlap.

Want to know more?

This is just a glimpse into our extensive reporting on the consumer attitudes of Gen Z. Get in touch so someone from the Stylus team can explain how your business can harness the power of trends and insights like these – and more. 

Want to know more?

This is just a glimpse into our extensive reporting on the consumer attitudes of Gen Z. Get in touch so someone from the Stylus team can explain how your business can harness the power of trends and insights like these – and more.