The Importance of Sustainable Fashion for Gen Z with Maya Penn

November 2, 2022
Melissa Gonzalez


Generation Z likes their fashion to be sustainable. A Forbes Study found that 62% of Generation Z prefer to purchase from sustainable brands. And this generation is backing that pledge with their wallets—they are willing to pay more for ethically produced goods. Utilizing the powerful influencing tools of social media, Generation Z makes known their desire to create a better and more sustainable future. 

At the recent Retail Influencer CEO Forum held in NYC in September 2022, Retail Refined’s Melissa Gonzalez went on the hunt to find a retail brand that caters to the sustainability wants of Gen Z and understands their needs in a way other brands may not. Did Gonzalez find it? Let’s ask the 22-year-old Founder and CEO of sustainable fashion brand Maya’s Ideas, Maya Penn. 

Penn’s been influencing her generation since she founded her company in 2008 when she was eight. She sat with Gonzalez to speak on the importance of bringing meaningful sustainability to fashion and entrepreneurship to the mainstream. 

“I wanted to bring more eco-friendly options forward and create my own brand,” Penn said. “I also am a sustainable consultant. I’ve worked with Fortune 500 companies, startups, and everything in between. I’m certified by the Cambridge Business School in circular economy and business. This is my entire world.” 

Gonzalez and Penn hit on several critical areas during their discussion: 

  • Gen Z’s buying and consuming habits related to influencing sustainability, amongst others 
  • What brands and retailers need to do to be successful with Gen Z 
  • Finding ways to reduce textile waste through innovative product solutions 
  • Penn’s book You Got This, which details her entrepreneurship journey 

“People of all ages can take what it is they’re passionate about and utilize it in a way that can make a positive impact in the world, in their communities,” Penn said. “Whatever that means for them, environmental issues, social issues, giving back, charities, and tapping into building that path forward to pursue your passions.” 

Maya Penn is a 22-year-old award-winning founder and CEO of the sustainable fashion brand Maya’s Ideas. Maya is a sustainability, CSR, brand consultant, artist, animator, eco-designer, three-time TED speaker, and Simon & Schuster author. 

Penn consults several brands, from Fortune 500 businesses to small startups. She has received a commendation from President Barack Obama for outstanding achievement in environmental stewardship and is Oprah’s youngest Supersoul 100 entrepreneur and change maker. 

Recent Episodes

strategic partnership
View episode

  In the retail fashion industry, strategic partnerships are key, especially in the fast fashion sector. A recent alliance between Shein, an emerging e-fashion giant, and Forever 21, a well-established brand, exemplifies this trend. This strategic partnership represents a significant shift in the global fashion industry. Shein, which began as a modest Chinese apparel merchant, […]

Forever 21 & Shein
View episode

  The recent partnership between Forever 21 & Shein, a key event in retail fashion strategy, marks a pivotal moment in the industry, merging the traditional brick-and-mortar approach of Forever 21 with Shein’s fast-paced online retail model. This collaboration offers consumers an unprecedented blend of in-store experience and online variety, but it also raises significant questions […]

retail fashion industry
View episode

  The recent collaboration between Forever 21 and Shein marks a significant juncture in retail fashion, merging Forever 21’s established retail presence with Shein’s innovative direct-to-consumer model. This partnership, however, raises serious concerns about sustainable development and the environmental impact of fast fashion, known for its high carbon emissions and contribution to environmental degradation. The […]