Millennials Vs Gen Z: Battle Of The Jeans

It seems that with every new generation comes a wave overturning the changes made by the previous one. Innovations in technology and medicine, new thoughts about philosophy and sociology, changes in art, music, and literature — all par for the course with the passing of time. Not exempt from these waves of change — in fact, an element of society that's usually at the forefront of the new wave — is fashion. The 1960s hiked up the ankle hemlines of the 1950s, and the women's liberation movement saw more women in slacks in the 1970s (via BBC).


The newest debate taking center stage of the generational culture wars? Jeans. It may seem strange, but spend one day on TikTok and you'll know just how much weight that one word can hold. The popular video sharing site brings up over 8 million posts when "Millennial v Gen Z" is searched for, and the videos chronicle virtually every Millennial v Gen Z difference — from side parts to "Harry Potter" obsessions (via Sydney Morning Herald).

Gen Z says skinny jeans are out

It's unclear exactly what the origins of the Gen Z skinny jean hate are, but it is clear that it's not going away anytime soon. Instead, Gen Zs have swapped the tight, straight legs for flares and wide legs with high waists — known affectionately (or ruefully, depending on which side you take in the debate) as mom jeans. The comfortable, roomy style of jeans gets their name from a 2003 "Saturday Night Live" sketch featuring Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, and Rachel Dratch, in which a fake commercial for the pants says, "give her something that says: I'm not a woman anymore. I'm a mom" (via The Washington Post).


At the time, mom jeans were seen as ugly, unflattering, and all-around undesirable, but Gen Z has a different take. A college senior interviewed by The Washington Post in May of 2021 raved about the comfort of mom jeans over skinny jeans, saying, "you could easily jump into mom jeans and take them off. You don't have to struggle to put them on."

It seems that many of her peers agree with her — though some aren't as nice about it. In fact, when a trend earlier in 2021 circulated Tik Tok with Gen Zs listing the things they'd do before they wore skinny jeans, among the most popular answers were "die" or "be homeless" (via Sydney Morning Herald).

Millennials care ... a lot

The word "millennial" has been synonymous with "youth" for several years, usually with a disdainful tone from Baby Boomers and Gen Xs who believed the younger generation's avocado toast preference was the reason they didn't own homes (via The Washington Post). Now, however, millennials are suddenly being thrust toward middle age, and they're not going without a fight. Millennials on TikTok have "clapped back" at Gen Zs in any way possible. Some have said they won't change their style based on the opinion of "the generation that ate Tide Pods," with others going so far as to post full-length diss tracks over the move away from skinny jeans.


Fashion psychologist Dawnn Karen — a millennial herself — said of the culture war, "thirty-somethings are trying to hold on to what those skinny jeans represented pre-pandemic: a time when they were at their peak, when they knew what was coming next and there wasn't all of this uncertainty."