Wanna Collab With Gen Z? Here’s Three Places to Start
If the first thing on your mind when you think “Gen Z collaboration” is Hype House, this one’s for you.
Because to succeed in business with Gen Z—as a Millennial, corporate entity or Gen Zer yourself—you’ve got to do more than stitch TikToks. For a generation that’s value-driven, ambitious (and also very stressed), a productive and organic collaborative process is key.
Here’s three trends we’re noticing as the next-gen retools the art of collaboration to work for them — on the job, in creative projects and with friends— with a few “pro tips” for good measure.
We Are 1000% Going to Meet in Real Life:
Though not huge fans of “return to office” emails, Gen Z is extremely excited to return to their IRL social and creative lives — as evidenced by the rise of Gen Z-founded collaborative spaces like Bowery Showroom and TikTok star Emma Rogue’s new vintage outpost. Both operate upon, for lack of a better term, a “shop-and-hang” M.O.—offering curated product and programming plus built-in community atmosphere.
These Gen Z-owned places go beyond “social shopping” experiences by inviting that same crowd to create alongside them, for instance, via Bowery Showroom’s slate of art, party, and pop-up programming or Emma Rogue’s rotating cast of shop curators.
**Pro tip** Keep up with creative collectives like ONLUNCHBREAK and Art Hoe for a masterclass on URL activations with IRL collaborative impact, like Art Hoe leveraging its platform to fund and platform microgrant recipients or an informational forum hosted by OLB on best practices for young creators ahead of their first day on set for brand work.
Let’s *Actually* Stay in Touch
Successful partnerships with Gen Z creators tend to place similar emphasis on longevity, authenticity and co-creation — as opposed one-and-done efforts, à la: can you make a 30-second video saying why you love these sneakers, then let’s never speak again?
In April, Gen Z-focused fashion brand Finesse created the House of Finesse by moving eight creators to an L.A. mansion for “the first fashion brand and creator house.” Gay Times adopted a similar tactic in June, when it tapped 13 queer Gen Z creators to jumpstart its TikTok account. The so-dubbed GT113 has since continued to work with the magazine on everything from Met Gala coverage to branded content.
And Gucci, a Gen Z (albeit, problematic) fave, has been enlisting a steady cast of young creators even before its TikTok renaissance. Sage Dolan-Sandrino, a 19-year-old creator who’s worked with the brand since 2018 across a short film, panel discussions and a zine, spoke to Hypebeast last year about the partnership with Gucci.
“I’m always having to write about what it’s like to be trans,” she said. “And in the end, the thing about Gucci is that was never a question. The question was never why I need to show you how important it is for me to have rights.”
**Pro tip** Be prepared to collaborate with a Gen Z partner who knows their stuff. Instagram accounts like @fashionassistants and @shitmodelmanagement provide important resources so young creatives know how to advocate for themselves on shoots and at their next job interview.
“Check The Meme I Posted for My Work-Anniversary”
Between LinkedIn meme pages, TikTok resumes and artist-centric social media alternatives, Gen Z professional networking is more varied and niche than ever. But if you were to pull a common thread, the next-gen approach to finding future collaborators deprioritizes broad-strokes “hire-ability” in favor of showcasing the full breadth of who you are and what you’re about.
Trends across social online communities reflect a similar preference for niche, interest-specific collaboration; the rise of Discord and, to a lesser extent, Dispo are cases in point. But upcoming platforms like Somewhere Good and Muze are also reimagining social networking to have greater UI emphasis on letting each user customize their own experience and keep close community ties, rather than, say, wading through an endless scroll of potential new besties.
Both platforms have also generated hype around their launches by allowing future users to collaborate with them ahead of time; Somewhere Good soft launched by inviting its community to try its world building tool, and Muze put out an open call for icon designs.
**Pro tip** I did say “LinkedIn memes.” Gen Zers are, indeed, pros at making any online platform work for them. And though Substack newsletter culture remains largely a Millennial territory, Gen Zers have embraced the form with signature spin—and the newsletters they’re writing are worth hitting the subscribe button. The Lemonade Stand, founded by a 16 year old who lives in a “hacker house” in San Francisco, sends out startup playbooks catered to teens. And Zellinals, the oft-forgotten early-to-mid ’90s babies (“the Gen X of Gen Z,” if you will) have turned to newsletters for dating, which is a collaboration… of a sort.