Fashion has always been about fitting in. But the last two decades of the 21st century has witnessed a paradigm shift in the global fashion trends, the latest being “woke” — a Gen Z and millennial term for being “awake” to the social and environmental issues. 

Appearing Woke In Fashion

The views of these young shoppers are critical when it comes to social injustice, and most of them are more than willing to switch or shun brands based on their stance on contentious issues. This trend is increasingly forcing brands to integrate social and green themes into their products.

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According to McKinsey & Company, an American management consulting firm, the rise of “woke” consumers was nine of 10 trends in the fashion industry in 2019.

They believe that the companies have a responsibility to address environmental and social issues. This category of consumers spends around $350 billion in the United States alone. Some 40 percent of the global consumers is Gen Z. Not only young consumers but also two-thirds of consumers worldwide are certain to evolve with their stance on greening. Half of them are activists and driven by passion while the other half is destined to make a decision based on a given situation.

Brands like Levi’s and Nike have taken a clear stance on social issues in recent months. Nike is supporting Colin Kaepernick, the face of the NFL’s anthem protests, and Levi’s is leading a campaign against gun violence in the US. Gucci has also come forward to support a student-led march calling for more gun control in the US.

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Fast Retailing, the parent company of Japanese retailer Uniqlo, has been recruiting refugees since 2016. British retailer ASOS has launched an exclusive lingerie line in partnership with designer Katharine Hamnett. A fashion player, Balenciaga collaborated with World Food Programme.

Companies like Ben & Jerry’s, Danone, Patagonia, Allbirds, and Eileen Fisher have been certified for the impact of their decisions on people, society and the planet. From just seven in 2010, nearly 200 companies worldwide have risen up to woke as of April 2018. Some 40 percent of their products are made of recycled and sustainable materials.

Woke In Place Of Fast Fashion

Woke goes for companies that are aligned with values and social responsibilities. Rapid production is, in fact, now considered bad for the environment as it pollutes water, dissipates toxic chemicals.

With per annum 100 billion plus global textile production, environmental groups claim that if this trend continues, the environmental balance will be destroyed. As a result, the woke generation has become a conscious fashion movement against this fast trend. The influence of woke precisely gives importance to quality, ethics and sustainability over brief trends, cheap labour and wasteful manufacturing.

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Developing greener themes into products in order to appeal to woke consumers can be risky for firms, but opportunities galore. The situation is likely to change soon, as stakeholders in the fashion industry currently tend to dominate the movement for environmental and social conscience. The number of consumers in other industries can be expected to rise to ensure the social commitment of global brands.

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