Fashion and shopping for the next generation

Words: Daniël Geldenhuys | Images: Instagram

Who’s not curious about Gen Z? They’re the humans born after 1995. The kind who’ll never know what it means to rewind a rented video tape or not be able to instantly define anything via Google. They’re also positioned as the emerging market that must be demystified asap. They’ve been branded as wonderfully forward thinking and expertly aware, though a recent case study from the New York Times proves they’re not all Greta Thunbergs. When it comes to fashion, many Gen Zs see no problem buying an extremely cheap dress to wear once to a party, be photographed in it for Insta and then throw it out immediately afterwards – at the expense of Earth.

Could it be that Gen Z has been catfishing us with a “woke” facade? The point that they don’t live in a generational bubble has been made only recently – of course they’re influenced by their elders. Objectively, it’s too early to paint a clear picture of the quintessential Gen Z. So rather than try to simplify the situation, let’s add some local voices to the dialogue: a trio of South African Gen Z models, sharing their relationship with fashion, in the DMs.


“Telling a Capetonian kid apart from a Jozi kid through fashion?” voice notes Antonia Julies, “That’s easy.” The core consensus is that fashion, especially in South Africa, is an expression of identity. “It’s about celebrating the different cultures to which we belong,” WhatsApps Radiyya Hajat, a Joburg woman who’s just jetted off to Paris for work. “Whether that’s in the more traditional sense or modernising it.”

Jon-Marc Luppnow DMs (possibly during the middle of a shopping session) that social media is what drives him to purchase. “Often I will see ads or posts from brands that I like,” he writes. “I will end up with a full shopping cart ready to checkout.” If this sounds a tad impulsive, rest assured his sprees are governed by the most modern of shopping morals: he likes his brands sustainable, hoping to see an increase in “eco-friendly, vegan and waste-free products. ”


Radiyya and Antonia echo Jon-Marc’s sentiments on sustainability and shopping in a way that considers the bigger picture. “We need to stop buying into trends, shopping out of boredom, and start shopping wisely,” texts Radiyya. “I try to buy items that I know I’ll keep for a reason and not a season.”

All three are excited when asked about the value of local design. Antonia raves about emerging designers Sibusiso Mahone and Robyn Keyser of Artclub and Friends. Jon-Marc cherishes his time on the local runway and subsequent interactions with local designers: “Heritage and culture are often portrayed in their clothing, which is amazing to see.”


“I want to wear my local designers proudly as a symbol of where I come from,” writes Radiyya. There’s no time like the present. “It’s our time,” says Antonia. “Our international peers want to see what we have to offer. Africa is growing, glowing and graduating. Let’s show up and show out!”

All the above feels very reassuring coming from the generation of the future – and now. It’ll be their job to implement these values into the industry as they move up the ranks. Until then, they’ll use their presence on social media, which Antonia rightly describes as an inevitability, to both cement and spread their vision for conscious style. It all starts with a great outfit. “Influencer or not, fashion and phone photography go hand inhand,” writes Jon-Marc. “It allows people to capture and share the moments where they felt confident dressed in clothing they love, which might inspire someone else.”

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