Three young women shoppers in three countries talk about what they buy, where they buy it and why.

By Elizabeth PatonTaylor Lorenz and 

For every Greta Thunberg and school-skipping climate change protester, there is another member of Generation Z buying inexpensive clothes on a smartphone.

Their purchasing choices — fueled by influencer culture and catered to by a new wave of ultra-fast-fashion retailers such as Fashion Nova, Pretty Little Thing and Missguided (responsible for a £1 bikini that sold out in Britain) — are as much about how an outfit will look on social media as in the real world.

Three Gen Z shoppers in America, Australia and Britain invited us into their homes to talk about what they buy, and why. All of them work after school or save money to pay for their own purchases.

‘I Browse Every Single Day’

Mia Grantham is a 16-year-old British high school student studying for her A-levels. She lives with her father and her younger sister, Annie, in Wilmslow, England, a town outside Manchester. Her bedroom is small but immaculately kept, with a bulb-lit dressing table and a pillow shaped like a speech bubble reading “You’ve Got This” on her bed.

Mia’s interest in clothes ramped up about 18 months ago, when she started getting an allowance and attracting followers on her social media accounts. She has more than 1,500 followers on Instagram, gets around 500 views per story on Snapchat and spends three hours per day on her iPhone XR (about five hours on weekends and during vacation).

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Her favorite going-out look is a red dress. She owns 14 of them.

How often do you shop?

I browse every single day — at least once — on the Pretty Little Thing phone app. It’s my favorite, and I don’t look anywhere else, except if I see something on an Instagram influencer I like. My current favorite is Molly-Mae Hague, a star from the 2019 series of “Love Island.” She recently created an exclusive clothing range for PLT, which makes me like the brand even more. Normally I look at shopping apps at the end of the day before bed for about 10 to 15 minutes. But if there is an event coming up that I want a new outfit for, then I could browse for more than an hour. I don’t really go to bricks-and-mortar stores. If I do, I go to Primark. Sometimes H&M. Maybe once a month, probably less.

What kind of an event needs a new look?

It could literally just be a meal. Or a house party, or a friend’s birthday. It could also be school, where we have a dress code but not a uniform.

Why is Pretty Little Thing your favorite fashion brand?

I pay £8.99 as part of a yearly subscription, which gives me unlimited next-day delivery on anything I buy. I know all the delivery people really well now — they always know when I have plans on a Friday or Saturday night. I don’t buy from places like Boohoo.com or Missguided as I’d have to pay for delivery, which would be a waste of money. I buy something at least once a week, and my basket value can be anywhere from £5.99 up. Once it was £2

30. Last week I bought 11 items and sent back three. Seventy percent of the time I send some ordered items back.

How many pieces of clothing do you think you’ve bought in 2019?

Eighty? One hundred? Those are pieces I’ve kept.