© 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited.Purpose: A global shift in ethical/sustainable purchase drivers highlights Generation Z (persons aged 15–24) as an important market for producers and marketers. Although much research has touched on fair trade consumption, very little has focused on Gen Z's consumption patterns. This study provides insights into and implications of younger consumers' motivations in ethical/sustainable consumption. Design/methodology/approach: This research examines Gen Z's purchase intention towards fair trade coffee with the theory of reasoned action framework. Data were collected with a convenience sample, and analyses were conducted using structural equation modelling. Findings: The research found a significant influence of knowledge of fair trade towards product interest. Furthermore, general attitudes towards fair trade had a significant influence on product interest, product likeability and convenience. Lastly, product interest and subjective norms significantly influenced Gen Z's purchase intentions towards fair trade coffee. Originality/value: Findings suggest that Gen Z's shift in ethical/sustainable consumption revolves around their subjective norms or peer influence circles and contributes to the notions of self-branding, identify claims and social currency. Younger generations are digital natives, and social media has created a looking glass into their actions. This digital expansion has created more opportunities for individuals to monitor the actions of others and release information in real-time. Therefore, ethical/sustainable consumption by Gen Z can be used as a communication tool among their peers to project personal values and ideological shifts and to influence others close to them.