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How Gen-Z Influenced the Iconic Fashion House DSquared2

Gen-Z walked so DSquared2 could run Milan Fashion Week.

With Western-infused garments, fun trucker hats, and vintage-inspired baby tees, the Dsquared2 FW23 collection received many well deserved oohs and ahs after its debut at Milan Fashion Week. Fashion lovers and major media outlets have carried on the message that the campaign is inspired by nostalgia and the 2000s era of fashion; but we think the true inspiration is Gen-Z and its obsession with all things related to gender equality and vintage finds.

Let’s spark your imagination. The setting is everyone’s worst nightmare; public high school. You park in the school parking lot. You immediately see an overwhelming amount of cliques. Each clique has its own distinct style. There are the jocks, the geeks, the outcasts, the sluts, the cool girls, the emo kids, and more. You follow them into the school through a big door, and access a long hallway, like the ones you see in 2000s teen rom-com like “Mean Girls” and “17 Again”, except it’s not 2005, it’s 2023. What trends do you see? Vintage garments, cowboy boots, cropped tops, graphic tees, flannel shirts, and trucker hats. Okay, now sink a little deeper into your imagination and bring that daydream onto a high-fashion runway; you’ve got the DSquared2 FW23 collection.

DSquared2 released its 2023 Fall/Winter collection on January 18, 2023. The collection embodies teenage tropes with a number of high school stereotypes. They reimagined the jock, the geek, the femme, and more. While many people argue that this is a nostalgic collection paying homage to the 2000s era of fashion, we believe that it is actually paying homage to the relentless and influential generation that is currently taking over the world, trend by trend: Gen-Z. Gen-Z made Y2K cool again. Gen-Z is breaking gender stereotypes. Gen-Z is turning their experiences with bullying and peer pressure into testimonies.

For the past two years, Y2K fashion has been one of the most trendy styles for young women and femme males in high school and college. What once was a rave over Longchamp totes and lululemon is now a rave over low-rise jeans, vintage Balenciaga city bags and thrifted baby tees. Did we mention you’re not cool if you buy something full-priced. The looks displayed in the collection demonstrate this Y2K trend through lace fabrics, low necklines, and baby tees. They even acknowledged the American Western trend by integrating cowboy hats, boots, and belts with DSquared2 buckles. Let's not forget who spent months of 2021/2022 hunting for the perfect vintage cowboy boots: Gen-Z.

Along with style, the collection was undeniably inspired by the boldness of Gen-Z. The collection mixed gender norms by having male models wear crop tops and female models wear trucker hats and boxer briefs. This demonstrated the idea that anyone could wear anything. Although this may have been something people have considered for a while, members of Gen-Z don't flinch when a straight man wears a cropped top, waxes his eyebrows, and even wears a bit of makeup - just look at the TikTok e-boy trend.

In terms of bullying, peer pressure, and stereotypes, previous generations have not been the best at breaking these patterns. Mental health was a taboo, bullying was more common, and judgement was everywhere. Yes, this still happens in high school environments, we're not saying it's perfect now, but there is now much more encouragement for students to be themselves. Over the past couple of years there have been countless teens who have experienced the nightmare of high school’s pressures to conform, and gotten on social media and done something about it.

Yes, DSquared2 played on stereotypes and gave a new perspective on high school tropes by celebrating them instead of diminishing them. But, that has been made possible by Gen-Z and its efforts.

Check out the full collection on the DSquared2 site - available for pre-order now.

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