Four Ways to Understand the Generation Z
In fashion, we predict the trends that will explode in local culture based on what’s current and what’s happening with the zeitgeist. But if you really want to understand the future, you have to go deeper and look into the younger generations that will carry it forward. I’m not talking about the millennials anymore, but I am zooming in on Gen Z.
This interest in the newest generation did not escape Gucci’s Chime for Change who partnered with Irregular Labs for the second edition of their biannual The Irregular Report.
This time, it explores the theme of “fluidity” with sections on gender, economics, politics and activism, education, creativity and culture, and science and technology.
What makes this report so exciting is how visual the presentation is on the qualitative and quantitative data; an experience made even more richer through opinion pieces, videos, and interviews that come from more than 30 countries. Co-edited by Nicolaia Rips, it explores fluidity in terms of relationship to borders, multi-hyphenate identities and systems.
This is the story of Chime for Change, the global campaigned by Gucci in 2013 to convene, unite, and strengthen the voices speaking out for gender equality, working to build powerful connections to encourage conversation, self-expression, and meaningful action. Chime aims to inspire participation in a collection community, bringing people together across borders and generations in the fight for equality.
Gen Zs crave fluidity as a mode of self-identification.
Who are you, and what have you been doing? The mode for introspection and soul-searching for Gen X, coupled with the I-want-to-change-the-world paradigm of Gen Y, has reached this level of being-ness and self in the Gen Z. As digital natives, the are born in fluidity and live in fluidity. This digital world they’ve come to know has no binaries or borders—one no longer experiences any geographical constraint because of the easy access to information; while at the same time, it means it is also a world of fragmentation and impermanence.
“Gen Z is fluid because, besides the restriction of gender labels constantly progressing to allow a more fluid world, we are also fluid in every aspect because we no longer ascribe ourselves and judge each other strictly. Generation Z being fluid emphasizes that we are still creating ourselves and we are allowing our generation to be limitless," said Co-Editor in Chief Nicolaia Rips. “To me, to be fluid is to exist in a full way. It means embracing my multiplicity of self, embracing the number of things I want to do, the way I want to do them, the complexity of my friends, the beauty of our collective individuality.”
Multiplicity and hybridity are key functions.
Instead of relying on binaries—right versus wrong, left and right, yes or no—elasticity and capability is key to understanding the world. The multiplicity will show in how they work as multi-hyphenates, with many professions and areas of expertise, and with how they learn, which is self-directed, and incremental. Hybridity pertains to their shifting modes of thinking. They see a subject in its many facets, like an object seen in different dimensions, all at once. “Peripheral thinkers whose ability to manage and reconcile layers of ideas and issues will mean that Gen Z is a generation well-equipped to tackle today’s most pressing problems,” according to the report.
There are three realities: Public, Online, and Private.
Part of the fluidity of the self of the different different personas that somewhat flow into the other. To them, the realities of the public, online, and private personas form who they are, and therefore, the truth is also presented in different ways,. “How they see themselves in the world is critical to understanding how they will impact it.” Layla from Mexico City said it best: “Online is fully constructed, public is partially a performance, and private is comfortable.”
But here’s something you have to understand: Not one of these realities is more important, more valid, or more authentic than the other. All of them are essential. “Someone’s identity is a product of their actions, mannerisms, and language, behavior, aesthetic, self-image, thoughts, and how those things work in day-to-day life through interactions with others, and also data,” explains Luna from Detroit. This means every image they have stored on their phones, their search and browsing history, and every snippets of data left either as cookies or code—all those form the identity. The virtual world makes up someone’s identity just as much as their real life does.
Instagram has blurred the lines between identities.
Who are you when no one is looking is now—who are you when you’re not posting (and not checking out what other people are posting). Your presence, your thoughts, your emotions are being absorbed visually through osmosis to your followers, and vice versa. Now this is normalization is not merely a Gen Z phenomenon, this is the function of social media. “Through the people we follow, we learn unspoken rules about when and what to post, how we should talk to people in the comments, and which parts of ourselves we should share,” explains Olivia from New Jersey.
In a way, this has also started the rise of “Finsta” which is the second, more private Instagram account. For the Gen Z, these multiple Instagram accounts are for their different realities—the public, everyone is welcome account, the private account that works more as a visual diary, and for some, a secret secret one with the private details of their real life.
These are just some of the takeaways from this impressive report, which also features Gen Z interviews with people such as activist Sonita Alizadeh, astrophysicist Dr. Priya Natarajan, The New Museum’s Karen Wong, theorist Homi K. Bhabha, entrepreneur Roya Mahboob, and fashion designer Harris Reed. Other topics include The Commitment Industry, The Fluidity of Feminism, The Importance of Genderless Beauty. Which is why, more and more, I feel that the future is shining even brighter with this new Generation that will join us into the future.
Gucci is at Greenbelt 4 and Shangri-La Plaza Wing. www.sssilife.com.ph