Instagram reveals first UK Gen Z trend forecast for 2022 

Photo by Gianne Karla Tolentino from Pexels

New data from Instagram reveals the emerging trends that will shape culture in 2022: from the rise of Goblincore and virtual fashion to the effect that COVID has had on reassessing education and career goals for young people.

Dark Academia is in fashion 

It’s time to say ‘laters’ to tracksuits and ‘hello’ to maximalist, bold fashion. Almost 40% of teens and young adults say they’ll opt for clothes with a visually striking lookwith Dark Academia, Goblincore and Nostalgic wear (think Y2K) at the forefront of this trend. In fact, growth on Instagram for #darkacademia has risen 52% year on year when compared with 2021, as well as growth of #y2kfashion increasing by 37% year on year.


Fashion and sustainability go hand in hand:

An increased interest in upcycling and thrifting sees Gen Z re-think their carbon footprint and look for more unique pieces. Nearly half of teens and young adults say they are looking to sell their own items through a thrifting website. There has also been a 36% increased interest from 2021 to 2022 in eco-friendly buying, Instagram’s new data confirms.

Gaming inspires fashion in teens and young adults:

In 2021, one in five male teens and young adults became more interested in fashion collaborations tied to games, inspired by collabs such as 2021’s Balenciaga X Fortnite in-game digital pieces (skins). In fact, since 2021, there has been a significant 113% jump in interest for buying virtual goods. Hashtag growth for #digitalfashion has increased exponentially with a huge 117% year on year rise. 


Eco-provenance in skincare is growing:

Instagram’s data shows over a third of teens and young adults are increasingly interested in skin minimalism, plant-based skincare, and clean ingredients. The rise of conscious-beauty regimes mean Gen Z are seeking out brands that take pride in the provenance of their ingredients and care about their environmental impact.


Green food cravings: plant-based and hyperlocal produce on the rise:

Conscious consumerism continues to guide young people’s food choices – illustrated by a 90% increase in young people expecting to see more about meat substitutes in 2022. As a result, we’re seeing similar increases in interest around hyper-local ingredients and foraging – with a +55% increase in the latter year on year. 


Wellness expands into the home:

2022 will see young people investing their time to create a more mindful home environment. Instagram’s data shows a huge 108% year on year increase in creating serene and sustainable homes, along with a 58% increase in the growth of #sustainablehomedecor. Gen Z are sprucing up their bedrooms to create a tranquil environment with items such as mood lighting and comfy duvets – with growth of #cosyhomedecor rising by 67% year on year.

COVID devalued the degree:

Instagram’s data shows that two thirds of UK teens and young adults say the pandemic has made them reassess their education goals, with money as the key factor impacting their decision. 86% saying they believe the best education comes from real world experiences, many might be considering taking alternative paths. In fact, nearly two in three have begun questioning the value of a university education, suggesting they believe it’s only worthwhile if you don’t go into debt for it.


Entrepreneurial Gen Z pave their own path:

Gen Z’s are clearly taking their fates into their own hands, rethinking what success means, with Instagram’s research revealing 71% of teens and young adults in the UK want to start their own business someday while over one in four have already done so. Providing a sneak peek into their entrepreneurial attitudes, the research also found that two in three young people say everyone should have a ‘side hustle’.



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