Janne Parviainen_Private Sunshine.jpg

Generation Alpha

by l'éditeur x, 26th of August

“Every generation is a reaction to the one that came before it” says social analyst Mark McCridle, creator of the term “Generation Alpha”. And isn’t that just how art movements happen? Nieztche would certainly think so. Isn’t there a side of the creative human spirit that is just rebellious? A cultural pendulum that explores the power of opposing the system? Much like of how countercultural movements happen, the same can be said about the paradigm of human social generations.

Janne Parviainen, Light painting

        The Baby Boomers were the children born after the war, between 1946-64. They didn’t exactly lived through any of the Great Wars, but they surely inherited post-traumatic values from their parents. They are the most career-oriented generation alive. They were radical and were called the “protest generation”. Their main goals were producing wealth and living a STABLE life. They weren’t all bad as we hear, they constructed a lot of what today we enjoy. They had an immense aversity to tolitarianism and violence. In fact, their aversity to violence was so big that they never let it completely “lure out/ be explored”. One of their great sins was actually overdoing it, silencing emotions and allowing, with their best interest at heart, that institutionalized violence persisted. Remember capitalism and the police. 

 

      Of course that also created a reaction, countercultural groups such as the Hippies and Punks reacted to all this law and order, by working precisely as a counterforce, valuing freedom of spirit, anti-establishment craft production and a vacuum of rules.

 

      Finally at the 90’s, again another period of stability. The millennials were rising and finally the 2000s allowed them to explode in all their power. The ME generation was creative, and yet, incredibly selfish. With an explosion of talent, but also a knack for self-indulging and rationalizing the status-quo with empty neoliberal phrases.

      “Just be yourself, shop and everything will fall into place” was their motto. A beacon of fire from the liberal ideology, that was all the more empowered after beating not only one, but two of the grand pillars of human modern social designs: fascism and socialism. That, which, in the past, was a macro dispute, became a unstoppable force of consumism and self-expression. 

     Don’t judge them too fast. Although self-centered, millennials didn’t hold any big wars. No dystopian of apocalyptical societies (at least not in the surface). A pax armada survived, but not completely sterile. Creativity was in place, though more precisely, institutionalized creativity. Fashion grew a lot, even in comparison to other industries. A lot because of their tolerance towards generic “plagiarism”. It was the generation that created social media and invented the idea of influencers, concepts incredibly criticized nowadays, but that shaped reality as is.

     Finally it was too much. All that annoying brightness of bloggers and hedonism backfired. It wasn’t possible to expect “a fairy tale of eternal economic growth anymore”. People were jaded of their own lack of morality. That constant criticism on the background had to come to surface. It wasn’t enough anymore to say that consumerism was a problem, that environmental issues would just solve themselves in the end. It was time to take action.

 

Maison Kimhekim, RTW Spring 2020

"Just be yourself, shop and everything will fall into place was their motto. A beacon of fire from the liberal ideology, that was all the more empowered after beating not only one, but two of the grand pillars of human modern social designs: fascism and socialism.

         In many ways, generation Z came as a form of redemption. Social activists, breaker of chains and incredibly harsh. Born in the world of social media, they took their activism into action. Fighting racism and social inequality, their goal was to stop selfish hedonism, in any way possible. Shifting society from ME, to WE.

       Don’t think, however, that all of them are like this. Generation Z, above all, hates strict social profiling, it’s all about fluidity. Even inside Gen Z, you can still find gen ME (WGSN, 2020). Although extremely creative, passional and self-opinionated, they still hold values, that allow studies to classify them as Z. Gender fluidity, multiculturalism, social awareness, that all matter to them, but their approach is much more ironic, subversive, and sometimes even less aggressive than those from their peers. Irony is the word, escapism the path, competition the tool and success with purpose the final goal.

 

      The cultural realm of gen Z, however powerful it may seem nowadays that is peaking, won’t last forever. Millenialls (remember them?) are already grooming the most interesting and powerful generation you’ll read today. They’re also, the future soldiers who will reclaim the throne of cultural supremacy and revenge their fathers. They are the kids born between 2010 and 2025. They are generation Alpha.

      “Gen Zs, the group born between 1995 and 2010 grew up when social media was being established. For them it’s a tool. For alphas, it’s a way of life.”. Generation Alpha is the VR generation. If gen Z criticizes today’s world, it’s up for gen Alpha to imagine new ones. They won’t be an hedonist generation though. More balanced, generation alpha will crave acceptance, community and belonging. They won’t need authority structures, and not because they will live in anarchy, but because collaboration is only becoming stronger. The old traditional power hyerarchy will be considerably diminished, but with the idea of collaborations comes the idea of responsibility. They will ingest less alcohol and calories and their childhood will be much shorter. Other social movements such as multiculturalism and disintegration of gender norms will not only be maintained, but they will be empowered.

            

 

Generation Z, above all, hates strict social profiling, it’s all about fluidity.

       Being born in a fully digital world will also create its counter social effects. Alphas will crave multisensorial experience. This generations will be the one who will strongly move away from the two, three and four dimensions of the digital and migrain to experiences of smell, touch, listen and taste. 

Maison Margiela Fall Winter couture 2018

Augmented reality - Mathilde Rougier

       Don’t think this is a prediction for a distant future though. The signs of the this new social order are already here. While John Galliano decided to arm models with VR sunglasses for his collection “Neo-digital Natives” for Maison Margiela, young emerging designers such as Mathilde Rougier, a graduate students from Central Saint Martins is producing garments using augmented reality. Bioengineering in the human body may probably just be another trend for the distant future, along with all it’s repercussions, but that’s for another day…

 

      "The project hints at a future where we will be able to download content to our clothing, viewable through AR glasses, and present ourselves differently to everyone around us,” says Matthew Drinkwater, from the London College of Fashion’s Fashion Innovation Agency. “Our identities are constantly evolving and becoming more fluid by straddling both the digital and physical realms,” adds Stott. “Digital fashion allows people to fully experiment with how they would like to be perceived – and push limitless creative boundaries. A hairstyle made from water, a dress that alters its shape according to sound: these are all possible.”

 

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