UMN Consulting, Jakarta – It was early on Sunday. In the vicinity of the Sudirman-Thamrin Business District , Jakarta, a tall boy wearing a stylish outfit strolled down the pedestrian route. Several sets of curious eyes sent him a sidelong glance as if they were looking at something that doesn’t belong in such a prestigious area of the city.
Soon later, a group of teenagers with equally outstanding fashion styles appeared out of nowhere. Unlike others, they were thrilled to see the male figure as if he were a movie star. One of the kids yelled, “Bonge!” – breaking the ‘mysterious’ nature of Jakarta’s most upscale neighborhood.
For people who get to see it every day, SCBD is just another busy place they want to escape. However, things are different for the young suburban Gen Z from outside the capital city. For them, it’s a place to channel their creativity through quirky fashion styles. Some also use the location to socialize with their peers, find new friends, or simply hang around without any specific purpose. Netizens later coined a new term for this phenomenon: The “SCBD” (Sudirman-Citayam-Bojonggede-Depok).
Looking through the lens of UMN Consulting’s research about Gen Z’s lifestyles and consumption habits, this new fad turns out to be much more riveting to discuss. It is not merely about how a specific generation promotes their unusual fashion choices. It is also about Social Disparity and the Generational Gap.
Public Places Should Be ‘Public’ Enough
It is a basic rule that most people seem to forget at first, but what do we expect? This is Jakarta in the 21st century. Some people insist that the elite image of the SCBD should be preserved and that no teenagers have the right to degrade its exclusivity. However, older Gen Z have a different take on this matter.
Stefanus Colin (21), for example, notices a discrepancy in the socio-economic background between people in urban areas and those living in the suburbs. He believes we need to open an opportunity for other people to enjoy themselves in the city.
“I don’t think it is right to say that the kids make the place look dirty. Does that mean it is okay if they are rich or look good enough? That would be classist,” said Colin.
“Classist” is the keyword. For Gen Z, like Colin and his fellows, Social Disparity is a serious issue. In fact, it is the third most crucial issue for Gen Z according to UMN Consulting’s research. They reject exclusivity and embrace inclusivity. In the SCBD kids’ case, they demand equal access to the so-called “elite” area.
Another Gen Z, Albertus Aditya (22), highlights that the ‘SCBD’ kids are in the stage of looking for their true selves. Therefore, in his opinion, socialization is more needed than just dumping them out of the area.
“I believe we do not need to repel them, as long as they follow the local regulations well. If things get uncontrollable in the future, it is better to educate them about what to do after they are no longer allowed to gather there,” said Aditya.
Apart from the issue, the different characteristics between generations also perpetuate the pros and cons of this ‘relatively’ harmless trend.
Gen Z : “OK Millennials!”
We all should agree that Millennials or Gen Y are the dominant populations in the exclusive business district. Most of them (but not all) are known to be polished and reserved, serving professional looks whenever possible. That is why it will be hard for young Gen Z to keep up with their predecessors’ lifestyles.
One of UMN’s lecturers and researchers, Elissa Dwi Lestari, states that the stark contrast between those two generations’ lifestyles can cause friction called the Generational Gap.
“These young Gen Z collide with class and generational differences in Sudirman. In the end, their existence is not recognized as the dominant subculture. Unfortunately, we are not in Japan, where there is a district that accommodates fashion in all its quirks. We need time and public acceptance to get there, and it is a long process,” said her.
Truth be told, Indonesian Zoomers choose Lifestyle as the third aspect that makes them unique compared to their forerunners. Most of them, especially the younger ones, are still looking for their identity. Thus, it makes sense that they enjoy being noticed and looking for public acceptance regarding their unique appearances.’
What’s Next for The ‘SCBD’ Kids
Dwi Lestari adds that it is unfortunate that Sudirman is not a place where teenage culture can be freely expanded, let alone staying there permanently. Furthermore, starting anew is easier than altering the existing image that has been there for decades. Therefore, according to her, the public needs to develop more empathy for the young Gen Z while guiding them towards a better solution.
“It is important for all generations to respect and try to understand each other. We also need to accept that we cannot force our values on others, although friction between generations will always be there,” said Dwi Lestari.
The more we try to understand Gen Z, the more riveting the discussion gets. In fact, not all of them have the same thoughts on things. Factors like age, social background, and life experience differentiate Gen Z from another. For a deeper understanding of these Gen Z issues, check our whitepaper report and in-depth articles about Gen Z’s lifestyle and consumption habits. You can also check our collaboration article about Gen Z with Kompas.com