In Defence of Millennials
By Yasmin Jones-Henry
Listen up Baby Boomers: Millennials care about lifestyle. We care about interiors. We care about design. We love the aesthetic too.
I don’t even know where this misinformation about my generation came from or who decided that because we were raised in a century that brought with it Wi-Fi and instant messaging, that as a result of our association with tech they deduced we somehow had no aspiration for the finer things in life.
This topic is a source of irritation for a number of reasons. But mostly because it’s the epitome of #fakenews. Some old person, filled with resentment for all that is young and new, sat in a darkened room, and invented that wretched label ‘Millennials’– and proceeded to assign a profile to everyone born after 1982.
Standing at a colleague’s leaving do last year, a friend (who is 7 years older than me and born in the 1980s) turned and began to vent. “You know I really don’t get why they bunch us all together in the same age bracket. You were born in ’92. A totally different decade to the 80s.” Fair point. “Also, I graduated in the middle of the financial crisis in 2008. The world looked totally different for me, than it did for you.” Taking another sip of my drink I raised an eyebrow to show that I had taken her point. “Also…” there was more… “I’m in my thirties. I have (no offence) a higher salary and more disposable income than you. You rent. I just purchased my first property…”
These words have been gnawing away in the back of my conscience ever since. This is an epic oversight by brands and publications.
With every magazine, brand and ad agency that fails in its attempt to relate to Millennials, they only show us, just how little they actually know us. Drawing from a demographic that spans such huge strides in technology and social engineering, is a big deal. It’s the difference between having an i-pod or cassette player and vinyl. It’s the difference between going to the arcade, and having a PSP (Plays Station Portable). It’s the difference between posting your prom pictures in a photo album on Facebook or sticking them into an actual photo album. It’s the difference between being in a group chat with your school friends, and actually having to go to a park or a ‘place’ to play with friends.
It is true, as a result of camera phones, social media, 3G internet –the Millennial’s social experience as an impressionable child walking into teenagehood is a very different experience to their elders… But the fundamentals throughout history seldom change. When selling anything, it’s a cardinal sin to presume. What do people want? What do Milllennials want? Has anyone actually asked us?
Well, I’ll tell you. We want to live well. It’s that simple. For those of us who were in our early teens when the world plunged into the financial crisis of 2007-2008, many of us would have been sitting in classrooms, preparing for exams in the hope of future employment – without any security that there would even be a future, as we watched footage of grown ups in suits, walking out of offices with boxes containing all their earthly belongings.
In London, property prices came crashing down. In England, we have a saying, ‘an Englishman’s home is his castle’ – well with the castles under siege, we were left feeling vulnerable, unsafe and uncertain as to how long this instability would last. Then of course let’s not forget climate change…the Iraq war, Afghanistan… When I think back to 2000-2010 – I reflect on the transition from an 8 year old to an 18 year old, trying desperately to make sense of a world that was evidently going through an existential crisis.
So is it any surprise that now, this same demographic have entered the job market, can vote and have some measure of consumer power, they are using their power to champion the very essence of stability itself. #Sustainability. Veganism is a symptom of a growing conscience and awareness that if we, the next generation do not break with the toxic habits of our predecessors, we will have no planet to call home. The dietary revolution is part of a wider movement often referred to as #wellness on Instagram. Wanting to live well, to have good mental health, pleasant surroundings and nothing but positive vibes – amounts to an industry estimated to be worth 26 billion Euros in the UK (Wellness Institute, 2017).
So whoever keeps touting that line that ‘Millennials don’t care about lifestyle’ clearly has no relationship with reality or no internet access to research the data.
Sitting among my peers last week, this topic came up over coffee. One friend laughed as she confessed she picks restaurants and venues based on the decor and the ‘vibes’. We might not be able to furnish country homes, but interiors – the aesthetic is still a big influencer when it comes to our senses and our spending habits. If we are more fiscally challenged than our parent’s generation, then we want products that are well made – with the best materials. Name brands don’t move us. Heritage? How about merit?
It’s true, the actions of our parent’s generation, the state of the economy and the current job market we have inherited means we will be less prosperous than the Baby Boomers. But, that doesn’t equate to being poor. We are less profligate. There’s a difference. We care about the environment. We care about ethics.
Strap yourselves in folks! 2019 will see more ethical and sustainable luxury lifestyle brands and designers featured on @WorkinFashion.me and in the next edition of #TheCollective. If they won’t give the people what they want… then I will.
Until next time…
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