Gen Z is hooked on fast fashion, and ThredUP wants to do something about it. Enlisting the help of famous Gen Z breakout star Priah Ferguson of “Stranger Things,” the thrift giant has launched a confessional that aims to to break GenZ of its wasteful habit.
The vehicle for breaking the addiction: A hotline empowering students to empty their fast fashion carts and choose thrift instead. The disturbing behavior, according to Erin Wallace, ThredUP vice president of integrated marketing, was revealed in the ecommerce site’s first Gen-Z Fast Fashion Report in partnership with GlobalData.
But there’s a disconnect with Gen Z and its members’ desire to save the planet. “They have an obsession with single-use fast fashion,” Wallace said, using the language of addiction. “Viral terms such as #Rushtok and #OOTDs are flooding the internet with new styles daily, and nearly half of college students say that it’s hard to resist the temptation of fast fashion. In fact, “a troubling one in three Glen Zers confess that they feel addicted,” the report said.
“Gen Z has shown the world that they care about the planet more than any other generation, yet they are inundated with shopping choices that make it easier than ever to mindlessly consume,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail. “This presents a unique challenge for Gen Z. With one in three Gen Z consumers saying they feel addicted to fast fashion, our data demonstrates the dichotomy young consumers face today and presents secondhand as a viable alternative for sustainable, affordable fashion for generations to come.”
ThredUP and Priah’s Fast Fashion Confessional Hotline is timed to staunch the temptation, launching just as young people are gearing up for back-to-school shopping, the report said. “ThredUP’s Gen Z study found that 71% of college students plan to buy new clothes for this back-to-school season. Further, more than two in five college students say they buy clothes for events that they’re likely to wear only once.”
“Young consumers are also seeking value more than ever this season, with nearly two thirds of college students looking for more affordable apparel options when they shop now compared to previous years,” the report said.
Thrifters will now get to easily swap their fast fashion purchases with thrifted ones by shopping Priah’s back-to-school looks at thredUP.com/hotline. Priah selected her favorite items on ThredUP, and thrifters will get to shop similar styles at up to 90% off retail value, the used clothing giant said. “From outfits for class and internships to school dances and formals, Priah’s ThredUP styles fit every back-to-school occasion. They also offer all of the fun and value of fast fashion without the waste.”
“The report we did on fast fashion and Gen Z was the inspiration for the hotline,” said Wallace. “We were seeing this dichotomy of fast fashion brand, Shein. The analysis of Gen Z emphasized that value and thrifting was also very popular. Data confirmed what we were seeing, that their love of fast fashion is at odds with their sustainable views.
“Shein’s speed is unrivaled,” she continued. “It seems at the expense of Shein and the rise of normal back-to-college is even more alarming than we thought.”
The hotline bowed on August 16. People calling the hotline will find it is a fast fashion confessional. “You call the hotline and hear Priyah Ferguson inspire you to thrift instead,” Wallace said, adding that Ferguson helps Gen Z-er unburden themselves and confess their fashion secrets or fashion sins.
“It’s most shameful to make a fast fashion purchase,” Wallace said. “This is a fun way to educate people. It’s too soon to see results just yet. We want to launch the hotline for back-to-school shopping and marketing. We’re injecting ourselves into the conversation.
“We didn’t speak to any professionals to find out if this is a psychological trend,” Wallace added. “In terms of delivering the message, it was really important to work with someone known to Gen Z and not be preachy. Priyah bought fast fashion and realized the quality wasn’t really good.
Confessors listen to Ferguson’s confession and at the beep, leave their own. “How we’ll handle the content depends,” Wallace said, referring to Gen Z’s mea culpas. “We’ve been working on this single use Gen Z audience that speaks to them and delivers education to quit fast fashion in a fun way.”
Sixty-percent of fast fashion items are produced and thrown out in the same year, according to the Gen Z report. “One of the best ways we can reduce this waste and power a more sustainable future for fashion is to keep clothing in use and out of landfills,” Wallace said.
According to thredUP’s Fast Fashion Confessional Report, the average Gen Z shopper plans to buy 12 new apparel items this back-to-school season. If every Gen Z-er swapped those 12 new items for thrifted ones, nearly 10 billion pounds of CO2e would be saved. That’s equivalent to planting 116M trees.