“You are what you wear” takes on a new meaning in this da y and age , with millennials making it a point to ensure that what they wear is e thically produced and cause-centric.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
“You are what you wear” takes on a new meaning in this day and age , with millennials making it a point to ensure that what they wear is ethically produced and cause-centric.
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In an article about millennials’ spending habits published by Quartz magazine earlier this year, sociologist Elizabeth Currid-Halkett termed the demographic as the “aspirational class” – individuals who are constantly seeking out brands that align with their beliefs, morals and way of life.

It is no longer enough to just plaster the words “trade-free” in fine print on the back of T-shirts. Millennials want to know about the craftsmen who helped to weave the shirt, how much they earned from the sale of it and how this has impacted their lives. Conscious consumerism is the name of the game here, as more and more millennials demand greater transparency for their purchases.

With the atrophy of the age-old demarcation of feminine and masculine styles in fashion, androgyny is making a full-on comeback. Nostalgia has a key role to play here, with recurring pop culture references to androgyny icons – including specific attention paid to the swagger of Prince, phantasmic persona of David Bowie and the power suit-wearing Annie Lennox.

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Millennials’ attitude towards sexual identity also has a key role to play here. Time magazine ran a cover story about gender fluidity among millennials in March this year titled Beyond He or She, which revealed that 20 per cent of millennials feel that they are something other than strictly straight and cisgender. This is a 13 percentage point jump, compared to 7 per cent of post-war baby boomers.

They are often referred to as the “gender-fluid generation”, as more and more individuals are challenging gender stereotypes by identifying with newly coined terms such as non-binary (individuals who class themselves as neither exclusively male nor female) and gender fluid (a person whose gender identity is not fixed and remains in flux).

With a greater acceptance of sexual identities and preferences that fall outside of the mainstream, gender-fluid fashion is well and truly making headway in the local and global fashion scene, with brands such as Prada, Gucci and Vetements dishing out gender-fluid wear.

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Gender-fluid apparel, such as these looks from fashion label Vetements, blurs the lines between masculinity and femininity.