The Influence of Gen-Z the first generation of true digital natives – is rising at rapid speed.
This year, on the runway, a new generation of influencers took center stage during the Milan FW 23/24 fashion shows. Investigating the behaviors of this new generation and its influence on consumption patterns was the talk of the town amongst the trend experts. Verily, what sets members of Gen Z apart from the previous generations is that they are digital natives. Since the time they were born, they have been exposed to the internet, social networks, and mobile systems. That context has produced a hypercognitive generation comfortable with collecting and cross-referencing information and integrating virtual and offline experiences. And luxury fashion houses are eager to understand how this new generation’s views might affect the broader population and consumption.
Despite all these changes in Gen Z behaviors, a few traits remain constant. Gen Zers value individual expression and tend to avoid labels. This was apparent on the runway -as many brands presented their collections logo free. They are interested in standing up for various causes, such as sustainability and clean oceans. They have strong opinions about how their thoughts will be put into actions to help improve the world. And they make decisions and relate to institutions in a highly analytical and pragmatic way. Unlike millennials before them, their focus is on the greater good. Or, at least, they’d like to think so.
As global connectivity reaches new heights, generational shifts have become more critical in behavior patterns. Young people have become a strong influence on people and businesses. But the one thing that they will never have is to have known a world void of the world wide web. And further to my point, this generation longs to discover and study the natural world.
And speaking of nature, the Dries Van Noten menswear autumn/winter 23/24 journeys from motifs of flora and fauna to the freedom and self-expression of rave culture alongside dynamic new tailoring silhouettes. Earthy tones, the rawness of fabrics such as jute and alpaca, and fine knits in flesh tones evolve from a book about the groundbreaking work of German naturalist and geographer Alexander von Humboldt and his creative explorations of the natural world in the 1800s.
Imagery inspired by drawings in the library of Meise Botanic Garden in Belgium informs the vivid renderings of tiger lilies unfurling, snakes coiling, and eagles in flight across shirting, knitwear, and bomber jackets. The skill of human artistry is celebrated in meticulous screen printing techniques, suits,
, and coats with abstract patterns wending across the body. Materials and fabrications
weathered by the elements; washed silks, overdyed fabrics, and textured knitwear
evoking the fragility of lace. Pastel tones dulled. Furry clogs lend texture; solid boots
suggest exploration. Preciousness in embroidery and chainwork.
You see, the definition of masculinity, today, is far from being one direction. In its Fall Winter 2023 collection Dries Van Noten acknowledges current changes, and undertakes this new journey, a fresh brand approach, offering men style they can use to express their individual voice. A renewed aesthetic, an increasingly modern, relaxed and elegant way of dressing, a lively and refined dress code.
The collection highlights included a reinvigoration of tailoring and silhouette; wide-shouldered jackets with narrow
waists. Trousers manipulate proportions, flowing in shape but sharply high-waisted. Cabans are abbreviated, with exaggerated lapels. Coats with draped shoulders and soft-
fit raglan sleeves.
Such designs influence the way Gen Zers view their relationships with brands. Companies should be attuned to three implications for this generation: consumption as an expression of individual identity and consumption as a matter of ethical concern. Coupled with technological advances, this generational shift is transforming the consumer landscape in a way that cuts across all socioeconomic brackets and extends beyond Gen Z, permeating the whole demographic pyramid.
The possibilities now emerging for companies are as transformational as they are challenging. Businesses must rethink how they deliver value to the consumer and be fully transparent when they address marketing issues and work ethics. This generation feels comfortable not having only one way to be itself. Its search for authenticity generates greater freedom of expression and greater openness to understanding different kinds of people. And it is this openness of the journey forward march that has taken the fashion world by storm.
The Dries Van Noten show embraced the energy and togetherness of rave culture. Ribbons flowing from cargo pants, multi-pocketed outerwear bristling with straps, undulating psychedelic patterns, and padded, oversized puffa jackets. Joining in with the telling of this story are Belgian experimental musicians Lander
& Adriaan, who perform a unique composition for the show, showcasing their own
a potent mix of sophistic-rave which fuses 90s underground dance with classic jazz.
Dries Van Noten menswear pays homage to the richness of the natural environment
and our indelible connection to it and each other.