Thanks to COVID, These Could be Gen Z & Millennials’ Next Big Fashion Trends

May 12 2020

YPulse is carefully monitoring COVID-19’s impact on young consumers and how brands can respond. We’ll be providing new data and insights for you weekly to cope with the crisis, including special reports, exclusive data on Coronavirus and the next generations, and actionable insights on what brands need to be doing now – and next.

You can access everything here on our young consumers and COVID-19 hub.

Yes, everyone is wearing sweats right now. But what comes next for Gen Z and Millennials? 

During quarantine, sweats and slippers, have become almost the only major fashion trends for young consumers. House slippers and sweats are even becoming a thing of luxury as the loungewear and activewear industry continues to see a significant boost in sales. Apparel brand Entireworld’s matching colorful sweat suits have even been dubbed the “unofficial uniform of quarantine” by fans. Oversized hoodies and giant jeans are being donned by celebrities and influencers. 

But while they will likely keep wearing more sweats, be attracted to comfort (they always have been), COVID will undoubtedly have far more of an influence on the fashion trends that come next. In fact, according to Teen Vogue the pandemic could change the way young people dress forever, and that instead of continuing to live in sweats and pajamas, consumers post-pandemic could have a renewed interest in getting dressed up once they return to the “outside” world. There are already other hints at what some of the big fashion trends for Gen Z and Millennials will look like post-quarantine—here are four predictions: 

Minimalist & Logoless Looks

Pre-pandemic, when the economy felt on an upwards trajectory, logomania was on the rise among young consumers. But that trend might have come to a quick halt. has arrived. According to a survey from Highsnobiety, the age of “silent streetwear” has arrived, and COVID-19 crisis has pushed young shoppers to develop “immunity to classic desirability drivers and the more shallow aspects of luxury.” They’re instead leaning toward minimalist styles which 53% say they find more attractive than six months ago. Classic streetwear, seasonless staples, and subtle colors are all being seen as more attractive as well, while young consumers have fallen out of love with logomania, monogram prints, and bright colors. Data from Lyst echoed the decline: they report that searches for logoed menswear dropped by 82% since last year. As the economy becomes more strained and luxury less attainable, young consumers are likely to steer away from the overt signs of luxury, and—at least immediately—many will be attracted to more low-key, somber looks. (Though not all, see below for more.)

DIY Fashion

What happens when a generation of young shoppers who were already fueling secondhand clothing apps and shopping at Goodwill enters an economic crisis? Leaning into cost-saving, creativity-nurturing DIY fashion could be the answer. Vogue Business reports that young consumers have been restructuring, upcycling, customizing, and reselling used clothes during the pandemic. Since March, shopping app Depop has seen a 74% surge in traffic, a 40% increase in listings, and a 65% uptick in sales with a large proportion of the items listed being customized or upcycled. Brands have taken notice and are using this opportunity to forge a new relationship with customers. At the beginning of April, workwear brand Dickies sent its Dickies Girl collection to Depop sellers Zig Zag Goods to rework pieces on Instagram Live. Their live session generated positive feedback with many followers reaching out about techniques, giving the brand and the designers access to a new audience. There have already been major DIY trends during quarantine, with tie dye sweats and instructionals all over social media. With tight budgets looking like a definite part of Gen Z and Millennials’ futures, it’s a safe bet that DIY fashion and reworking secondhand clothing will be as well. 

Y2K-Inspired Style

Remember when everyone thought the turn of the century would spark a global crisis? Well to young consumers today, that time was optimistic compared to their reality. Styles inspired by the early 2000s are trending with Gen Z, as they look to happier times for comfort. Pre-pandemic, we were already tracking the start of the 2000s nostalgia trend. Gen Z teens were showing off their takes on, and love for, 2000s trends on their favorite platforms. Last year, teens were creating TikTok videos of makeovers that transformed them into 2000s girls, complete with butterfly clips and frosted lips. According to Vox, as the pandemic continues to force young consumers to “stand still,” they are turning to content from the early 2010s for the “feelings associated with them.” Many are revisiting the music, movies, and even the Tumblr aesthetic of those times—and 2000s fashion is being revisited as well. As the New York Times reported, popstars like Dua Lipa and Ariana Grande are wearing miniskirts, scrunchies, Claire’s shop-esque colorful accessories, and other Y2K-era inspo in their music videos, helping strengthen Gen Z’s 2000s nostalgia. After all, “’90s babies [have] matured into musical stardom and begun controlling pop music’s emergent trends.” Hair tinsel is even making a comeback, with #hairtinsel earning more than 1.6 million video views on TikTok, many of which are DIY tutorials. While minimalism is one trend that could be sparked by COVID, some will look to the over the top, bright, and optimistic looks that were common in the beginning of this century as an escape. 

And (Of Course): Designer & Branded Face Masks 

Vogue Business predicts that protection will be a major theme in fashion trends sparked by the pandemic, and the most obvious protective fashion trend is already here: the designer face mask. As face coverings become more common and required in public, brands like the NFL, Universal Music Group, and fashion companies like Alice & Olivia, Madewell, and Banana Republic are creating branded masks as fun statement pieces to reach consumers. Disney is already selling out of pre-orders on their masks featuring characters from movies (including Baby Yoda) and The Verge reports they will be donating $1 million from sales to charity. Many also hope more stylish and playful masks will help destigmatize them. As one executive explains, “The more we embrace this new normal, the more lives we’ll save.” When YPulse asked young consumers what they believe will be a normal part of life post-Coronavirus, 34% said wearing face masks in public, so we can expect that branded or designer face coverings are here to stay.