Gen Z. It’s the generation that everyone has the most questions about – because of its diversity, and how resolute its members, born between the years of 1997 and 2012, are about eschewing stereotypes and categorisation. And, of course, because they are the future.
What excites them and how do they live and hope to live? What have people got wrong about them and, quite simply, what is their real side? It wouldn’t be possible – or right – to reach a single answer because if there’s anything that this group has taught us, it’s that there’s no one demographic that’s monolithic. So, instead, how about let’s just get to know them?
JENICA MOURE MARIANNE, 23, MARKETING EXECUTIVE MAKING HER MODELLING DEBUT
On Jenica: Spandex swimsuit gown with attached gloves, Balenciaga
Tell us about your hairstyle and brows?
“The last Marc Jacobs show in which Bella Hadid appeared with micro bangs – something I’ve always liked – and the side of her hair seemingly shaved, was the inspiration. I got a lot of flak for it on Tiktok, with many people calling it really weird, but I think it looks pretty cool… My brows? I’ve been self-bleaching them for a year now because I like the look.”
What do you do in your free time?
“I play the piano as well as the cello. I also like to walk around the CBD district on weekends.”
On Jenica (left): Cotton corset top, Dior. Panthere de Cartier yellow gold earrings with tsavorite garnets, onyx and diamonds; matching necklace; Panthere de Cartier yellow gold ring with black lacquer, tsavorite garnets, onyx and diamonds (on left index finger); Panthere de Cartier yellow gold bracelet with onyx, emeralds and diamonds; Panthere de Cartier yellow gold ring with black lacquer, tsavorite garnets, onyx and diamonds (on right index finger); and La Panthere de Cartier yellow gold watch with black spinels, black lacquer, tsavorite garnets and diamonds, with matching wrap bracelet.
On Sana (right): Ralph Lauren Collection tulle gown, Polo Ralph Lauren. Cotton knit top, Dior. Panthere de Cartier white gold ring with tsavorite garnets and onyx (on left middle finger); matching rings with emeralds, onyx and diamonds (on right hand); and Panthere de Cartier steel watch with blue spinel and diamonds, with steel bracelet. All watches and jewellery, Cartier
A Gen Z stereotype you’d like to debunk?
“A lot of people think we’re all obsessed with Y2K fashion, but that’s pretty myopic. There’s a wide variety of styles that Gen Zers appreciate. My style varies, but I usually prioritise comfort and like to mix things up, like pairing a batik skirt with a white T-shirt and Converse shoes.”
“Many people have a lot of comments about body image, especially on social media, but I think that’s a topic we need to be comfortable with. There are many who are insecure about their bodies and I think those are boundaries that we need to respect.”Jenica Moure Marianne
On Jenica: Silk dress with resin bustier, Loewe. Clash de Cartier pink gold small and double row hoop earrings; matching small necklace, medium bracelet and large ring (on left index finger). All jewellery, Cartier
Why do you like to hang out at the CBD of all places?
“I just like quiet places in general, away from the crowds and the CBD fits that exactly on the weekends.”
Instagram or TikTok?
“TikTok. Instagram sucks these days; I just feel like TikTok gives you more exposure to people who you might not normally encounter on Instagram. Also TikTok can be pretty educational – for example, I’ve searched for things as mundane as “how do I use Excel spreadsheet?” and there are TikTokers out there who have done videos demonstrating how to use it but in a short and less long-winded manner.”
JESSICA GOH, 22, COMMUNICATIONS STUDENT & MODEL SIGNED TO BASIC MODELS
On Jessica: Polyamide blazer, Gucci. Panthere de Cartier white gold necklace with onyx, emeralds white gold brooch with sapphires, emeralds, onyx and diamonds; and Panthere de Cartier white 98On Jessica: Polyamide blazer, Gucci. Panthere de Cartier white gold necklace with onyx, emeralds and diamonds; matching rings (on right index and left ring fingers); Panthere de Cartier white gold brooch with sapphires, emeralds, onyx and diamonds; and Panthere de Cartier white gold ring with tsavorite garnets and onyx (on left index finger). All jewellery, Cartier
What do you like – and not like – most about modelling?
“I love how no two shoots are the same and that I meet different people each time I go for one. It’s nice that the job is very unpredictable. What I don’t like is how it’s perceived. Many people seem to think that it’s very glamorous or that models do it to gain clout. I do it because I genuinely enjoy the craft that goes into being in front of the camera or walking a runway, in the same way that an actor likes performing on stage.”
On Jessica (left): Leather jacket, cotton tank top, wool-blend skirt and leather pumps, Prada.
On Saima (right): Fantasy tweed jacket and wool tights, Chanel
“I actually try to avoid using too much social media but, as a model, I’m encouraged to be more active on Instagram to give potential clients a sense of my personality. I thus use my public account (@jessicagohaway) primarily to share my modelling stuff and a private Finsta for sharing things more freely with my closest friends. I don’t feel like the whole world needs to know that I’m going, say, for dinner and would rather keep such personal moments private.”Jessica Goh
On Jessica: Wool jacket and matching pants, silk blouse, Peekaboo ISeeU Petite wool top-handle bag and leather pumps, Fendi. Clash de Cartier pink gold small hoop earrings and large single earring; as well as matching small and medium necklaces, and small and medium rings (on right third finger). All jewellery, Cartier
What are your post-graduation plans?
“Up till now, I’ve modelled only part-time because of my studies, so after graduation (from the National University of Singapore), I’d love to take a gap year to pursue it full-time to see how far I can go. And if modelling doesn’t work out, I’ve done internships at advertising firms so I might go back to that industry.”
KERNI CHEW, 22, MARKETING EXECUTIVE & FREELANCE MODEL
On Kerni: Silk knit top, silk-blend pussybow shirt, viscose-blend skirt, satin briefs and leather belt, Miu Miu. All jewellery, Cartier
What’s your star sign?
“Pisces, and my Myers Briggs Type Indicator is ENFP. I’m into astrological things perhaps because I am a Pisces, which is said to be the most spiritual and dreamy of all 12 star signs. I’d say I identify 80 per cent with what’s said about us Pisceans.”
Tell us about your modelling career.
“I started out modelling for fun four or five years ago because I like dressing up for fun. I don’t know why people started paying attention to me. I wasn’t planning to be an influencer or anything, but people started approaching me to do my own shoots on social media and paying me to do so… Last year I received mostly product sponsorships but, this year, there’s also been a good deal of paid shoots. I see myself going upwards.”
On Jessica (left): Resin bra top and silk dress, Loewe. Juste un Clou pink gold hoop earrings with diamonds; matching ring (on right index finger) and bracelet; Juste un Clou pink gold necklace; and matching rings (on right ring and left middle fingers), Cartier.
On Kerni (right): Silk dress and wool sweater (tied around waist), Louis Vuitton
So are you an influencer?
“I don’t like that word, but all my friends call me one. I’m just a person who loves taking Instagram photos. A shout-out to the people who help take them because, without them, the pictures won’t look as good.”
“I recently actually talked about body-shaming on my own Instagram (@kerninrek)… there has been a lot of talk about fat-shaming in recent years but people don’t care about skinny-shaming. I posted about a personal experience I had recently at a market where a group of aunties commented (in a negative way) about my size. I talked about it on social media and received both positive and negative comments… Some people probably thought I was trying to (humble brag) but my main point was really to say that body-shaming – of any kind – is not right. Don’t make unnecessary comments about other people’s bodies – especially when the person in question did not ask for your opinion.”Kerni Chew
On Saima (left): Wool blazer and silk dress, Givenchy. Panthere de Cartier white gold necklace with onyx, emeralds and diamonds; matching rings (on right ring and left index fingers); Panthere de Cartier white gold brooch with sapphires, emeralds, onyx and diamonds; Panthere de Cartier white gold ring with tsavorite garnets and onyx (on right index finger); and Panthere de Cartier mini calfskin shoulder bag.
On Kerni (right): Mohair jacket, chiffon slip dress and Peekaboo viscose-blend small top handle bag, Fendi. Clash de Cartier pink gold small hoop earrings. All jewellery, Cartier
A Gen Z stereotype you’d like to debunk?
“Well there’s that stereotype that we’re lazy at our jobs. I don’t think so; we just prioritise ourselves more (compared to our parents et cetera) – they would work late a lot and the job comes first before anything but nowadays I feel that kids in my generation are generally more outspoken and (assertive of their rights).
We don’t like to work our ass off for a job because I think we’re easily replaceable; in a job you can quit today and next day, there’ll be another replacement. I think Gen Z folks do tend to prioritise our mental health more. Also a lot of us have a side hustle – I’d like to think that we work smart and we make sure to get our money’s worth (instead of being exploited).”
SAIMA JHA, 16, THEATRE STUDENT AT THE SCHOOL OF THE ARTS SINGAPORE & MODEL SIGNED TO MISC MANAGEMENT
On Saima: Celine by Hedi Slimane wool blazer, cashmere turtleneck sweater, cotton shorts and leather boots with sequins, Celine. Panthere de Cartier yellow gold necklace with black lacquer, tsavorite garnets, onyx and diamonds; Panthere de Cartier yellow gold earrings with tsavorite garnets, onyx and diamonds; Panthere de Cartier yellow gold ring with black lacquer, tsavorite garnets and onyx (on left index finger); Panthere de Cartier yellow gold ring with black lacquer, tsavorite garnets, onyx and diamonds (on left ring finger); and Panthere de Cartier yellow gold ring with tsavorite garnets and onyx (on right middle finger). All jewellery, Cartier
Why theatre as a major?
“I’ve always been passionate about acting so I got into drama at around eight years old. I love performing on stage and playing different characters… It’s my dream to be a thespian, but I’m not sure if I can achieve that because it’s not easy to do so in Singapore. I also have other interests and want to go into international relations.”
Tell us more about that.
“It is my dream to work in the UN – hopefully for animal rights as well as women’s rights, because I’m very passionate about these topics. And I want to make a difference for our generation because it’s going to be the most impacted by issues such as global warming and inequality in many different aspects. I want to make things better for my generation and the generations to come.”
“The best thing about being Gen Z is that we have the power to bring change. The previous generations have been playing to stereotypes and stigmas. For example, dyed hair and piercings are still considered taboo by older generations. With us Gen Zers – even if it’s in a work setting – you can have piercings and dyed hair, and you won’t be seen as any different from a person who doesn’t have any of those.”Saima Jha
What’s your favourite book?
“I like to read non-fiction or autobiographies, because I like to get into the minds of different people – especially successful ones who have impacted the world through their art or social work. My favourite is Malala Yousafzai’s (renowned Pakistani activist for female education) autobiography. She was 16 – my current age – when she got shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating for women’s education, and caused such an uproar that brought about much social change. If she can do it, we Gen Zers can too.”
SANA KIR, 18, LAW STUDENT AND MODEL SIGNED TO MANNEQUIN
On Sana: Wool sweater, Prada. Juste un Clou pink gold necklace, and matching rings with and without diamonds. All jewellery, Cartier
Why study law?
“As a humanities student who likes money, it was a natural choice. I’ve only just started the course, but thankfully my classes have all been really interesting.”
And what got you into modelling?
“My mum was a beauty queen and model. I would look at pictures of her when she was younger and think to myself, ‘I need to do that.’ She wouldn’t let me until I turned 18 though, so the minute I did earlier this year, I applied to various agencies.”
“As a kid, I was very heavily bullied for my skin tone and it took me a really long time to feel confident in my own skin. I used to go to bed praying that I would wake up with a lighter skin tone because of what other children in primary school said to me… If you think about it though, children aren’t born with preconceived notions. I’d like to spread the right message so that my kids in future won’t have to go through what I did.”Sana Kir
Dream brand to model for?
“Victoria’s Secret. I just love how it’s such a sexy and fun brand, and its whole girls-support-girls vibe. I also totally dig those Angel wings.”
Who’s your favourite Angel?
“Jasmine Tookes. I watched the show with my mom and my sister when I was younger, and just seeing a model with like the same skin tone as me on that stage was insane for me.”
Photography Stefan Khoo Photography Assistants Alif & Rex Tan Videography Athirah Annissa Animation & Illustrations Jaeyyelle Styling Damian Huang Styling Assistant Pang Jia Wei & Danessa Tong Hair Tan Eng Chong/Kizuki+Lim Hair Assistant Lihui Makeup Sarah Tan Makeup Assistant Rebekah Mah Nails Zi/Auum – The Honest Nail Spa
This article is adapted from a story in the Sep 2022 The Kids Are Alright! edition of FEMALE