Burdened with changing the world but unable to climb out of Boohoo’s bargain bucket, Gen Z may want to unhitch itself from fast fashion, but the industry is booming. Over the past year or so, headlines like “Shopping habits of generation Z could spell the end of fast fashion”, “Thrifting as rebellion: How Gen Z killed fast fashion”, and “Gen Z is leading an evolution in shopping that could kill brands as we know them” have peppered newspapers, business journals, and fashion publications – and yet, according to a Thredup survey of about 2,000 Gen Z consumers this summer, “one in three said they feel addicted to fast fashion.”
Hoping to transform all those Molly Maes into Greta Thunbergs, Thredup, the second-hand marketplace, has today launched a confessional hotline, which young people can call in an attempt to stave off the urge to buy yet another polyethylene two-piece or a nail polish laced with mercury. At the receiving end of 1-855-Thredup is Stranger Things recruit Priah Ferguson, begging shoppers to reconsider their habits. “If you’re on the verge of a splurge – girl, no. Press 1 and I’ll talk you out of giving fast fashion your hard-earned cash,” a prerecorded message from the actor repeats. Modelled on the kind of crisis helplines that come plastered across inner-city phone boxes, the first-of-its-kind service promises to provide people with support they need to make the switch to sustainable fashion.
But Ferguson is no angel, I’m afraid! She quickly confesses to her own dependency on fast fashion, before explaining why behemoths like Shein and Boohoo have contributed to climate destruction and how thrifting can be an equally affordable alternative. And at the end of the call, service users will have the opportunity to shop from an edit that the actor has curated with Thredup. So while there might be a catch to all that altruism, by addressing the contradictory values of Gen Z shoppers, the project manages to cut them some much-needed slack – like all those fast fashion waistbands that lose their elasticity after approximately one (1) wear.