8 fashion trends that Gen Z loves and Baby Boomers will never understand

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Tie-dye is one of the biggest trends among members of Gen Z. Christian Vierig/Getty Images
  • Teens and members of Gen Z are known as the social justice-oriented digital generation.
  • Between apps like TikTok, celebrities, and social media, Gen Z has a ton of influences when it comes to fashion trends.
  • From tiny sunglasses to early 2000s trends, members of Gen Z aren’t afraid to be bold when it comes to style.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories .

Gen Z fashion trends are getting wilder and wilder.

From ripped jeans to unisex clothing items, some trends might seem confusing to older generations – and you can usually guess that teens are getting these items online, rather than in-store.

“TikTok and Instagram are likely the largest drivers of new trends and brand exposure. There’s hardly a line between celebrity and social media influencer anymore,” Samantha Brown, a New York-based celebrity stylist trained by Stacy London of “What Not To Wear,” told Insider. “Many of these young people are also finding inspiration from their peers, as most of them upload their looks all throughout the week.”

Here are eight Gen Z fashion trends that some older generations just won’t understand.


Athleisure is a huge trend among Gen Z shoppers.

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Athleisure apparel. Jason Koerner/Getty

Athleisure, a stylish version of exercise clothing, is one of the biggest trends among Gen Z consumers.

“Expect to see matching shorts and T-shirt sets this summer, as well as bike shorts worn with both crop tops and oversized tees,” Samantha Brown told Insider.

Whether it’s leggings or coordinated bike shorts and crop tops or matching sweatsuits, casual and comfortable clothes with a sexy twist are a huge trend for Gen Z shoppers, Brown said.

“Gen Z fashion is very, very casual, and slightly sexier than older generations were dressing at their age,” Brown said. “Social media is definitely responsible for this, as celebrities share these trends with immediate reach.”


Tiny sunglasses are one of this generation’s most divisive trends.

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Millie Bobby Brown wore tiny sunglasses while out in NYC. Noam Galai/Getty Images

Tiny sunglasses have been all the rage since 2017, and are most closely associated with Generation Z. While celebrities like Rihanna, Gigi Hadid, and Selena Gomez all rocked the trend years ago, young people continue to lean towards the smaller frames.

However, while in past summers, super-thin rectangular or cat-eye glasses were extremely popular, Gen Zers today appear to prefer small, round sunglasses reminiscent of the ’60s and ’70s.


Early 2000s-inspired trends are also making their way back into style.

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Treigan Oliveira (@treiganoliveira), Jayden McFarlane (@thejourneysofjayden), and Jacob Vanlue (@jacobvanlue) turned heads in their detailed Playlist looks. Kat Tenbarge/Insider

Early 2000s trends like fun prints, rhinestones, lots of pink, and fun over-the-top accessories are all the rage among Gen Z consumers.

While most of Gen Z is just a tad young to remember true early 2000s style, icons like Paris Hilton and nostalgic movies like “Mean Girls,” “The Cheetah Girls,” and more have kept the trends alive for the younger generation.

This summer, expect to see the younger generation rocking everything from Juicy Couture sweatsuits to tennis skirts and butterfly clips.


Gen Z also appreciates brands that offer unisex items.

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ASOS DESIGN x GLAAD ‘&’ unisex sleeveless tank with tie-dye and back print. ASOS

Some members of Gen Z look to brands that skirt the rules of typical “gendered” clothing, opting instead for unisex or gender-fluid options that may allow them to dress more in line with their gender identity.


Gen Z loves denim with rips and patches.

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A guest wearing blue denim low-rise flare pants during Paris Fashion Week Menswear Spring/Summer 2020. Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

When it comes to teens, jeans are still king. However, while older generations might be accustomed to straight-legged or simple jean styles, members of Gen Z are much more experimental when it comes to denim.

Oversized fits, patches or rips, and low-rise fits are all popular among Gen Z shoppers who aren’t afraid to take risks when it comes to fashion.


Bucket hats — with a twist — are one of the summer’s most popular accessory trends.

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A member of Gen Z wearing a tie-dye bucket hat. Matthew Sperzel / Contributor

Log onto any teen clothing site and one of the most popular summer accessories this year might surprise you.

“Tie-dye, bucket hats, square-toed heels, and matching sets are trending with many young people,” Samantha Brown told Insider. “Older generations may have experienced these trends the first time around, but now they are back with a twist.”


Tie-dye has been around for decades, but it’s all about how Gen Z is styling it.

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A tie-dye sweatsuit from popular Gen Z fashion brand Urban Outfitters. Urban Outfitters

One of the biggest quarantine fashion trends among members of Gen Z was tie-dying their clothes at home. Now, it’s almost impossible to go onto any fast-fashion or teen-focused clothing site without running into the trend.

While tie-dye might was popular decades ago, Gen Z is experimenting with tie-dye in ways other than simple T-shirts. College sweatshirts, bike shorts, and oversized T-shirt dresses are some popular items that Gen Z have been bleaching and dying.


For Gen Z, sustainability and a strong social justice-focused message are really important when it comes to fashion.

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A woman shopping in a thrift store. Trevor Williams/Getty Images

When it comes to fashion trends, Gen Z heavily leans into the ideas of sustainably sourced fabrics and brands with strong social messaging.

According to McKinsey and Business of Fashion’s State of Fashion Report, nine in 10 Generation Z consumers believe companies have a responsibility to address environmental and social issues.

“Members of Gen Z are huge on sharing information,” Samantha Brown told Insider. “They grew up in the age of social media, and sharing news across social platforms comes naturally to them.”

Sustainable companies like Girlfriend Collective, which makes their leggings out of recycled water bottles, and even secondhand merchants on Depop are popular among younger consumers who are aware of ethical shopping and protecting the environment from non-biodegradable clothing and fast fashion.

“Sustainability and social issues are very important to this generation, as so many new brands are being more transparent about their business practices,” Brown said. “Gen Z is very inquisitive, and they like to make decisions rooted in information.”