Why Gen Z’s Collaboration With Retail Brands Will Fashion the Future


When the C-Suite needs to know the hot retail fashion trends, they check into the Z Suite. At the recent Retail Influencer CEO Forum featuring the Z Suite on September 12, 2022, C-suite retail and brand leaders came together to discuss this critical demographic with an exclusive network of diverse Gen Z voices. But are the shopping behaviors of Gen Z worth giving this much attention? With an estimated spending power of over $140 billion, it’s a safe bet retailers have their sights set correctly. 

So, what did the C-Suite want to learn from the Gen Z leaders at the Z Suite? Retail Refined’s Melissa Gonzalez attended the Retail Influencer CEO Forum to find out. 

Gonzalez wasted no time in getting insights. She went straight for an American fashion icon, Halston, and its creative director, Ken Downing. Downing, a fashion industry veteran who previously helmed the Fashion Directorship at Neiman Marcus, joined Halston in July 2022 and is now the face and voice of the legendary Halston brand. Downing sat down with Gonzalez to give his thoughts on the importance of Gen Z in today’s fashion world and Halston’s role in that market. 

Downing said Gen-Z brings together a lot of communities of like-minded people who share ideas and thoughts. And it’s in that spirit of Gen-Z collaboration, something that is very much a part of the Halston legacy, that guides Downing in how Halston should pave its fashion future. 

“This generation believes anything can be accomplished and done, it’s how they see it, and I applaud that,” Downing said. “And when you look at fashion today, we want it to be a collaborative experience. We want our friends to share in the journey; we want to know that there is more than one single person behind the idea, that many people come to the table.” 

Gonzalez and Downing also discuss

  • Balancing physical and digital worlds in the fashion and retail market 
  • The inclusivity occurring in the Gen Z fashion space 
  • The future possibilities of retail

“Because we are in this highly digital technological world, fashion that has the feeling of handmade, that has a super artisan quality, is going to continue to be very important,” Downing said. 

Ken Downing is a longtime Dallas, TX, resident, and fixture on the city’s fashion and social scene. In addition to his previous role with Neiman Marcus, and his current role with Halston, Downing served as the chief creative officer of Triple Five Group Worldwide. 

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