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Online Gen Z community is ‘a beautiful place’

Fashion designer and recently named ZEO of Edelman’s Gen Z Lab, Harris Reed, was in conversation on the Debussy stage with Edelman’s Chief Brand Officer Jackie Cooper, yesterday. The duo started by discussing the meaning of fluidity.

“Although fluidity is widely understood to be about gender – and that is indeed where it started – it has evolved to be about working in non-traditional ways and the most exciting thing is that now it is spreading into businesses,” Reed said. “And it really should be, because recent research by Edelman shows that Gen Z and its focus on fluidity is affecting everything. It’s about the future of what the world buys.”

Gen Z is particularly strong on transparency around the origins of products, which in turn is informative for brands: “When I do a fashion show, people want to know if, for example, the feathers that I’ve used were sourced sustainably. Basically, Gen Z wants to know everything about everything.”

Reed was asked by Cooper why he’d accepted the ZEO role at Edelman:

“I like a challenge and really it was a no-brainer. I was tired of being used as the token Gen Z person.

The opportunity to work with Edelman offered a real chance to change things for the better,” he said. “I’m delighted that Edelman has taken on 100 Gen Z staff and I’m equally excited to be part of a global organisation.”

Reed’s chosen look and openness about sexuality have presented many challenges over the years. “Sure I got bullied and I’ve been faced with prejudice and misunderstanding, but the upside is that I’ve been hugely supported by the online Gen Z community, especially through the lockdown period when there was no chance of meeting up in real life. It’s a beautiful place and it’s growing and expanding.”


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