Nike, ASOS and Old Navy among the most inclusive brands that are challenging gender stereotypes, according to UK Gen Z


This article is brought to you by Retail Technology Review: Nike, ASOS and Old Navy among the most inclusive brands that are challenging gender stereotypes, according to UK Gen Z.

ASOS, Nike and Old Navy are among the brands leading the way in challenging gender stereotypes and being more inclusive, according to a Gen Z Fashion Report from UNiDAYS, the world’s leading Student Affinity Network.1 Informed by responses from over 4K Gen Z students on the UNiDAYS panel, the report analyses Gen Z perceptions of gendered clothing and marketing.
The findings show that over half of Gen Z (61%) think that the mainstream fashion industry overlooks minority groups, including non-binary and trans people, with nearly nine in ten (87%) believing strongly that there should be better gender equality and inclusion within fashion. 
Aside from some noted exceptions, the consensus is that brands could be doing more to champion inclusivity in their campaigns, believing that ‘style should not have a gender’ (61%). When it comes to marketing, only 31% of UK Gen Z feel that brands are getting it right when it comes to using inclusive and diverse gender representation. 
With many brands opting to use gendered language online and in-store, it is interesting to note that as many as 1 in 4 Gen Z believe that labelling products according to gender is not inclusive (26%).
For those brands deemed to be getting it wrong, over half of UK Gen Z (56%) said that they came across as ‘tokenistic’, with half (51%) believing that brands weren’t doing enough to support wider inclusivity initiatives, 38% wanting them to better support organisation that benefit non-binary individuals, and 45% saying they should market gender neutral clothing more explicitly.
Almost two thirds (65%) of Gen Z felt that brands could improve the online retail experience by providing the option for shoppers to search ‘Gender neutral’ ranges online, rather than being funnelled to search for either ‘men’s’ or ‘women’s’ ranges from the outset. In fact, almost half of UK students would like to see more diverse products ranges from fashion brands (46%).
With regards to Gen Z appetite for inclusive clothing, most students in the UK would consider buying gender-neutral clothing, whilst some already choose to. Gender-neutral tops and t-shirts are the most popular item, with 47% of students purchasing these, irrespective of gender identity, followed by non-gendered jumpers and knitwear (40%), accessories (38%) and footwear (37%).
When it comes to Gen Z spending, nearly half (49%) of students are more willing to purchase from a brand that showcases better gender representation and inclusivity in its marketing and advertising. Whilst the majority (83%) would not expect to pay more for a gender-neutral item, one in ten Gen Z would be willing to pay £1 - £25 more per item if it was designed and marketed as non-gendered.
Despite these ideals, price/value (27%), comfort/fit (18%), quality (17%), and brands offering greater loyalty initiatives (30%) are top priorities for Gen Z customers.
Viviane Paxinos, General Manager at UNiDAYS, says: “Our report clearly shows that Gen Z have a strong appetite for genderless clothing and willingness to engage with brands that are providing a more inclusive offering. With the vast majority (87%) of students believing it’s important that people can wear what they want without stigma, regardless of their gender identity, this is a vital learning for fashion industry players.
“Despite the strong influence that price holds over the demographic, the findings show that Gen Z are hyper-informed and switched on when it comes to identifying which brands they consider inclusive and representative. They recognise tokenism in marketing and are more likely to interact with brands that communicate their offering authentically.
“By expanding their focus on representation, communicating authentically with their audience, and recognising that price is a top priority that influences Gen Z purchasing decisions, brands will succeed in driving affinity with this highly influential generation.” 


1. UNiDAYS survey informed by panel of more than 4,624 Gen Z students across the UK, US and AU, conducted 28th January to 1st February 2022. 

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