Sophomore year of college, I thrifted a leather jacket that remains one of my wardrobe staples today. It has outlasted five apartments, three boyfriends, four jobs, and survived seven New York winters. We all have trend cycle-transcending pieces like this: pieces you have rediscovered over the years, that have accumulated significance with each 4 AM memory made or life milestone achieved while wearing them. If I had my way, most of the clothes in my closet—besides maybe socks, underwear, and a few flimsy going-out tops—would be of this kind. Not a wardrobe of basics in neutral colors but a curated collection of expressive, quality, versatile garments that I love. This, at least, is what I tell myself when I get that midnight Urban Outfitters sale blast.
Over the past few years, the fast fashion conversation has turned towards Gen Z and how the generation known for their climate activism can’t stop buying ASOS and Shein. Of course, it is useless to blame Gen Z for overproduction and trend cycles going turbo mode when the industry is most often run and marketed by Boomers and Millennials, but Zoomers are the target audience. A recent Guardian article attributed this dissonance between Gen Z values and spending, in part, to the proliferation of social media and influencers’ promotion of fleeting trends and overconsumption (hello, 100-piece haul videos).
However, at least on my side of TikTok, many content creators have found ways of indulging their love for style without buying into the culture of disposability. “When self-expression is the end goal with every look you put together, you won’t pay as much attention to trends,” commented Clara Perlmutter AKA @Tinyjewishgirl, a TikTok star known for her brilliant, sometimes polarizing, garment pairings. “I’m all about collecting pieces that make some sort of statement, or that expresses a piece of me in some way.” Below, a few of our favorite emerging tastemakers show us how they style their own spiritual equivalent of my trusty leather jacket and give their tips for tuning out Instagram trends in favor of your own sartorial voice.
Photos: Courtesy of Arabella Bartelloni
What is the story behind this piece and why is it meaningful to you?
“Earlier this year, I told one of my best friends my aspiration to become a stylist. We always had gone thrifting together, and she picked this “ugly” dress out for me and challenged me to style it. I continued doing this with different pieces I’d find with friends to challenge myself to see how much I enjoyed styling and how much wear I can get out of each individual piece. This piece was one of the few that helped change my perspective on what I buy and how I can continue to wear the same items without it feeling boring.”