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The BoF Podcast: Understanding Gen-Z

The fluidity and self-starting philosophy of Generation Z is seen as troubling by many in fashion and media. But Molly Logan and her panel of accomplished Gen-Z creatives discuss what it really means for brands to work with Generation Next.
Left to right: Molly Logan, Elise By Olsen, Kai-Isaiah Jamal, Lula Ososki, Liv Little and Nicolaia Rips | Source: Getty Images for The Business of Fashion
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OXFORDSHIRE, United Kingdom — For creative consultant Molly Logan, bringing in actual members of Gen-Z when she was trying to cater to the demographic was the "best decision" she ever made. Now, she is the co-founder of Irregular Labs, a Gen-Z-run think tank and creative studio that advises clients on how to best represent — and appeal to — the values of this demographic.

"I always say the same thing [to clients]: there are three things that are going to happen, and you're going to have a choice in... how to navigate that," says Logan. One is the scenario that Gen-Zs passively participate in established institutional systems — be it politics, business or media. Another is that Gen-Zs come along and tear down elements of the system they don't like, then ask members of the old guard to rebuild it with them. The other, far less desirable outcome for older generations and brands is that Gen-Zs completely bypass existing institutions in favour of building their own.

But Logan, who herself is not Gen-Z, doesn’t need to speak on the behalf of such a vocal generation. Sitting alongside her at BoF VOICES are a diverse, creative bunch of young people, with no one confined to a single profession or project. Elise By Olsen is a publisher, editor and curator, most recently founding Wallet, a fashion criticism publication. Lula Ososki is a writer, creative director and consultant. Kai-Isaiah Jamal is a spoken-word poet, activist and model. Nicolaia Rips is an author and playwright, with her debut book “Trying to Float” scooping an ILA Children’s and Young Adults’ Book Award. Liv Little — the oldest at 25 — is a curator, audio producer, filmmaker and editor-in-chief of Gal-Dem, a media brand run exclusively by women of colour.

The commonalities linking all five panellists lie in their resolve to act on their discontent with the status quo, often by plugging gaps in the media industry where, as By Olsen notes, there was “a lack of youth-driven projects” and unheard voices had yet to be given a platform.

While this may (and should) be a cause for concern for established fashion brands, Gen-Zs are largely open to working with anyone willing to listen and establish a dialogue in seeking collaboration, beyond simply ticking boxes in the name of tokenistic diversity.

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