Fashion TikTok: A Dream or a Nightmare?



TikTok has reached the same platinum status as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. After launching in 2016, it rose to fame in 2018, dominating the social media scene. But is TikTok changing the fashion scene for better or for worse?


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TikTok is an online platform showcasing 60-second videos that can be of anything, literally. It started off with short catchy dance routines and challenges. Now it’s filled with everything from funny videos to educational and creative content. The success of TikTok is almost incomprehensible. With over 100 million users in the US alone, it’s no wonder some of the biggest TikTok stars (such as Addison Rae and Noah Beck) were invited to attend the Met Gala and sit front row in New York Fashion Week runways. 



Studies show Instagram’s average rate of global engagement is between 1-6%, whilst TikTok’s is a staggering 29%. It’s no secret that musicians have started creating music in the hope it will go viral on TikTok, writing catchy songs that will make good ‘sounds’ for TikTok videos. But how has the fashion industry responded?

To appeal to Gen Z, TikTok is essential. Many fashion brands have jumped on the trend, attracting a wider audience by showing their brand in a new light. 



Part of TikTok’s appeal is that the algorithm promotes everyone’s content, meaning anyone can go viral in a matter of hours. It’s a hybrid space that levels celebrities and ‘normal’ people. Bella Hadid is an avid TikTok user with 3.2 million followers, compared with Addison Rae, the normal girl turned internet star, with 86.2 million followers. 

The fashion sphere is an open space. Free for all to express themselves, showcase their outfits, and discover trends. Fashion TikToks include videos like ‘What I Would Wear If I Was The Main Character In A 90’s Movie’ or ‘Outfits To Make Your Ex Want You Back’. The video content is a level up from Instagram photos, allowing people to show the details of more than one outfit in a short space of time. The moving video is more intriguing than a static compilation of photos on Instagram. The possibilities for video content are much more vast. Users experiment with different transitions and sounds to make their videos and outfits interesting. It is arguably easier to connect an audience as creators have more scope to demonstrate their flair. 



Although, TikTok has undoubtedly fueled impulse purchases, encouraging people to follow short-lived online trends. However, it has also promoted sustainable and ethical fashion. Many people use the platform to post educational content about the detriments of fast fashion. TikTokers such as sustainablecherub and imperfectidealist have dedicated their TikTok presence to educating their followers on the truth behind fast fashion. They cover issues such as fair pay for garment workers and greenwashing.




Inclusive Platform For All To Enjoy And Get Involved With Fashion

Before TikTok, Bloggers and YouTubers were the self-made internet stars with the most influence over the fashion world - but now that’s all changing. High fashion brands have collaborated with the TikTok famous. Online fashion content shifts from polished and professional, to unfiltered and relatable. Two well-known fashion brands, Gucci and North Face have collaborated with the famous TikTok train enthusiast, Francis Bourgeois. Francis gained online attention for his pure and innocent love of trains. He now finds himself working with some of the biggest brand names in fashion. This 21-year-old TikTok sensation is the newest face of the Gucci x North Face collection, he can be seen wearing their pieces in his online videos.

As well as TikTok stars receiving unexpected invitations to collaborate, models are being scouted through the app. Wisdom Kaye, a fashion TikToker, has been signed to IMG models. He is now working with huge brands such as Balmain and Dior. TikTok is providing opportunities for normal people, not just models, and celebrities. 

TikTok also helps lesser-known brands gain public attention, as the For You Page relevant content over followers. This helps small innovative companies gain attention for the right reasons, allowing small sustainable businesses a chance at success. 

Fashion Week pervades TikTok, allowing brands to showcase their catwalks to a wide audience, letting people easily comment on and respond to trends. People who already use TikTok are more likely to come across fashion week content. They would have previously had to search for it online, now it comes up on their For You Page.

All in all, TikTok makes fashion more accessible and exciting. Brands are having to act fast to keep up with the ever-changing online world the millennials are creating on TikTok. 


Changing How People Consume 

It cannot be denied that TikTok does encourage consumption. Reportedly 57% of respondents have been led to make a purchase through the app. Countless trends originated on TikTok, such as the North Face jacket, the Jean Andy Dress, the Acne scarf, and the return of Ugg Boots. Most sustainable fashionistas will know that trends have an environmental cost. The problem arises when people buy clothes or accessories that they will inevitably throw away soon after, as they don’t reflect their personal style. Therefore, they cannot offer long-term potential in one’s wardrobe. 

Haul videos (in which people show their recent purchases) are big on TikTok. Whilst this has in some ways glamourised overconsumption, there is a stigma developing around fast fashion haul videos. Influencers have been heavily criticised for supporting fast fashion brands and impulse purchasing. Most recently, Molly Mae (reality TV star, influencer, and Creative Director of Pretty Little Thing) was slammed for her insensitive comments failing to recognise the fatality of fast fashion. People are beginning to wake up to the detriments of large unjustified orders from Shein and Boo Hoo; those that haven’t are being educated in the comments. 

Like any other social media platform, some people use their voices to shed light on issues they deem important. There are many educational TikToks highlighting the issues with fast fashion - urging people to shop elsewhere. TikTok allows small brands to share their creative process and showcase their ethically made products

Lastly, TikTok ads are becoming majorly influential due to the sheer number of engaged TikTok users. The app encourages users to want more and get more.


 Self Expression

TikTok has popularised many different aesthetics. Niche aesthetics such as Cottage Core and E-Girl have become mainstream, as TikTok has spread the word of these styles, helping them gain momentum. Rather than one particular style being considered fashionable, TikTok has diversified the fashion scene into subcategories, giving people a little more freedom. 

TikTok has merged personal interests with personal style, categorising people into different visual aesthetics based on how they look and what they are passionate about. The Plant Mom aesthetic describes a casual style, someone who wears dungarees and earthy tones. They care about the environment and have multiple plants in their space, they are probably vegan too. 

The cottage core aesthetic became popular in the first lockdown. It celebrates the wholesome country lifestyle, like baking a pie or going for a picnic. This girl is always wearing floaty dresses and floral patterns.

The video element of TikTok makes it easier to merge one’s style with their lifestyle. Viewers are able to see the space they live in and their daily activities easily through the video format. It goes further than a singular posed photo uploaded to Instagram. It has inspired people to try new things like baking, or reading, to fit in with a certain visual aesthetic, changing the way we view fashion. Fashion becomes intertwined with how we live our lives. 

TikTok has changed the fashion industry, making it more inclusive and expressive, as well as educating us on the issues of fast fashion, encouraging people to support small businesses. Whilst it has been effective in providing us with engaging and inspiring content, like all social media we should engage with it responsibly.



+  Words:
Florenne Earle Ledger
Luxiders Magazine