In times of change and uncertainty, the youth always breaks through and prevails
The Renaissance, whether you define the era by its cultural, political, artistic and economic means, or perhaps by its synonyms of rebirth, revival and renewal – you cannot help but compare its meaning and work to that of 2020 and its chaos. Whilst the start to the decade has presented plenty problematic instances and has not lacked in its ability to surprise, this year has failed to suppress the determination of Gen Z. When I think of the Renaissance and its relation to 2020, three things stick out to me: the Black Lives Matter movement, Tiktok, and online shopping. At first glance, all three topics do not necessarily overlap or even seem similar to the Renaissance, but they happen to exhibit rebirth and revival in political, cultural and artistic ways.
The rebirth of the app musical.ly:
Musical.ly was an app that was likely around when you were thirteen. It was redesigned, in the past few years, to bring you tiktok. The re-invented musical.ly’s rising popularity, during the quarantine of 2020, is a great example of a revival. But, that is not the reason I see it as an example of renaissance; it is the way users on Tik Tok have aided in changing toxic masculine ideals, showing men wearing and engaging with stereotypical feminine fashion norms. Artistically, many of the men on the app engage in wearing makeup or skirts with popular sounds and show how these types of clothes do not threaten their masculinity. These displays connote the ideal that what people want to wear should not bother others. A popular wearer of these types of clothes, on the app, is best known by his username: @heir.of.atticus. He is known for wearing makeup, crop tops and skirts as part of his fashion aesthetic, and continues to do so. Not only do I see this as a modern progressive renaissance, its aesthetic is also similar to historical renaissance male fashion which was typically extravagant, with elaborate tunics and waistcoats, which in today’s society would also be stereotypically feminine.
The revival of Black Lives Matter:
When you begin to consider renaissance through a more general perspective, you may become cognizant of the various synonyms of that word, such rebirth and revival. Ruminating on these, it is important to note that 2020 has also seen a major revival of the Black Lives Matter movement. Black Lives Matter was first formed around 2013. Whilst BLM has had brief moments of intensive activism and support throughout the years, the death of George Floyd in America has sparked strong and consistent motivation of the movement, making it crystal clear that people have had enough of the systematic oppression and racism against black people and support was shown across the globe. BLM’s meteoric revival inspired the widespread support of small black businesses and black owned brands, as a way of showing unity and bringing about equity. For example, fenty beauty, as well as fashion brands like bad society club, are black owned businesses that should be supported, alongside BLM . These brands are not only great at showing unity and inclusivity, but the voices and owners behind these brands are powerful in speaking up for a movement that has gone unheard for too long.
A renaissance of sustainability:
2020 has also seen a rise in the popularity of sustainable fashion. Since quarantine and lockdown were instituted in many countries, due to the spread of coronavirus, many people moved to online shopping as a way to satisfy themselves, since they could not go out (including myself). Whilst this has occurred within the fast fashion industry, it has also inspired a move to second hand fashion apps, such as shpock and depop, and as a seller on depop myself, I think it is fantastic. I also use depop as a buyer; and, whilst it is hard to be sure you’re not being ripped off online, depop has many tricks to show you how to stay safe on the app and shop for items that are from successful sellers. As well as abandoning fast fashion for more recyclable resources, it does not mean big brands are not still thriving. However, brands such as wearetala are very sustainable and good for the planet, and have offered a material way of helping with climate change and ecosystem exploitation.
Considering the examples alongside the themes of renaissance, I feel as though Gen Z is a perfect example of changing the game and reviving what society needs, despite all that has been thrown at our generation in 2020.