It seems like every day, a wave of new micro-trends and -core aesthetics emerge on the internet. To some, it’s exciting to dabble in new styles. To others, it’s overwhelming to keep track of these Gen Z fashion trends.
Verve, a global insight consultancy, released a report in November that highlights style trends from this year. Rather than just listing countless fleeting trends, the report covers eight major movements that speak to this cultural moment. It combines insights from trend researchers, cultural analysts, semioticians and data from catwalks and social media trends analyzed by an AI tool.
Kim Howard is a semiotician at Verve. Her job is to study signs and symbols and decipher their cultural meaning. She told In The Know by Yahoo that Gen Z cycles through so many trends because they have a bigger palette to choose from than other generations.
“They have global inspiration as they’re exposed to different fashion styles across the world via … TikTok and YouTube,” she said. “They also have the ability to source so many different items online [through sites like] Depop, ASOS and Temu.”
Howard told In The Know that learning about Gen Z’s fashion choices can help people understand the generation as a whole. The report exists to show that micro-trends aren’t just random — they have “fundamental values” underpinning most of them, like sustainability, economic stability and post-pandemic joy.
Here are the eight Gen Z fashion trends that define 2023, according to Verve’s report:
1. Playing dress-up
Maximalist fashion and colorful aesthetics can offer an escape from a stressful world. You might have heard of “post-pandemic hedonism,” “dopamine dressing,” and “main character energy” — all those styles fall into this category, which celebrates the joy of playing around with your outfits.
2. Quaint cuteness
Gen Z is romanticizing traditional, feminine aesthetics to escape from a fast-paced modern life tinged with hustle culture. Think cottagecore with its rustic and cozy vintage furniture, coquette and balletcore fashion with its bows and frills, and the back-to-nature Euro summer and tomato girl trends.
3. Stately style
A desire to escape financial insecurity and an uncertain future has inspired timelessly affluent looks, through old money aesthetics, as well as “coastal grandmother” and “corporate baddie.” Emily Mariko and Sofia Richie Grainge’s “quiet luxury” are prime examples of influencers at the forefront of this movement.
4. Fashionably feral
Though a polished and productive style was popular in the past, Gen Z is fighting the put-together “that girl” aesthetic with a messier style that looks spontaneous and mismatched. Indie sleaze, grunge and the frazzled English woman aesthetic all have a feral energy.
5. Heavy duty
The antidote to feeling powerless and vulnerable is embracing a hardy and durable lifestyle through what Verve calls “armor for urban environments.” Gorpcore, utilitarian workwear and avant apocalypse are all included within this trend.
Zak Thompson, a 21-year-old videographer from the U.K. who identifies with heavy-duty style, told Verve that he prefers all-weather, robust clothing in most of his outfits because it lasts longer and has a positive impact on the environment.
“Gen Z is expressing themselves through style because it’s a way to imagine a different world than we have right now,” he said. “You can tell a story about yourself and what you care about, and I think that’s even more important now that you have to create an image for yourself on social media.”
6. Boho blend
As young adults search for their purpose and hope to make the world a better place, Verve’s report says their “spiritual inner journeys are reflected in outward styles.” Ever-popular Y2K trends are going boho with maxi skirts and tie-dye, witches and “whimsigoths” are showing their true (earth-toned) colors, and earthy Black girls and boys combine boho aesthetics with Afrocentric elements.
7. Body hacking
Instead of just yearning for a different appearance, Gen Z is embracing solutions that help them feel their best with how they look, including tailored clothing and color theory. Muscle mommies and gym bros celebrate the fun of fitness, and users are posting openly about using shapewear.
8. Fan favorites
To escape loneliness, this extremely online generation is taking the passion they have for online communities into the real world. Concert outfits, blokecore, and even e-boys and e-girls indulge in fan favorite fashion.
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