Column: How TikTok changed fashion
These days, you can’t scroll very far on TikTok without seeing at least one shopping haul or a multitude of “outfits of the day.” Brands now race to get their products trending and empty their PR budgets to get the most famous influencer gushing about their new line.
And once the right video reaches the right audience, the fire catches.
Your everyday lines aren’t the only ones stepping into this nouveau fashion playground. Designer brands like Prada and Yves Saint Laurent have recruited popular TikTok creators to be their ambassadors. Appealing to the younger generation has never been more important, as these high-end brands have not only begun streaming their Paris fashion shows on the platform, but they’ve also started scouting their models on it, too. In today’s world, if you’re in fashion, you’re on TikTok.
Ever since TikTok became mainstream during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, exposing people to cooking ideas, book recommendations, dances and more to pass the time, it’s given rise to something new: the micro-trend.
One day, the new UGG ultra mini boot is the new must-have fall shoe. The next week, the Adidas Samba sneaker has taken the model-off-duty look to new heights. Next month, a $300 jean skirt might be an essential for your wardrobe that you can’t live without. This revolving door of trends is not sustainable or good for your bank account.
Even with record inflation and a wavering economy, the hauls persist. You wouldn’t think rent and groceries prices are soaring when an Aritzia package the size of a small country lands on an influencer’s doorstep. Or when people you follow insist that Mirror Palais, a brand that rarely dips below the $400 price point, is worth the money when it is most certainly not.
Now, I want to make it clear that I’m not speaking down at you from my soapbox and shaming you for crafting your closet to your heart’s content. I’m an avid shopper myself, and I’ve fallen victim to numerous TikTok trends. I want to encourage smart and thoughtful shopping.
Emphasis on smart.
I present to you building a capsule wardrobe: the relatively new focus of the fashion industry. Brands such as Djerf Avenue, Guest in Residence, Helsa, Outdoor Voices, Reformation and Girlfriend Collective have emerged on the scene with a single request: that customers buy their sustainably and ethically sourced and produced products and wear them forever.
These designers observed how celebrities would be seen wearing an expensive item, TikTok would go crazy over it, and fast-fashion brands such as Shein and Zara rushed to make knockoffs that would fly off the racks only to be found in thrift stores and donation bins a couple of months later.
Guest in Residence, supermodel Gigi Hadid’s creative baby, has a mission to create “future heirlooms.” Girlfriend Collective makes its athletic wear from post-consumer recycled water bottles, fishing nets and fabric scraps. Reformation encourages its customers to send clothes they’ve bought back so they can make new clothes out of old materials.
The aim of brands is no longer to mimic trend cycles and overproduce. The US alone disposes of over 16 million tons of textiles a year, and most of it ends up in landfills. The goal now? Help save our planet and create pieces that are timeless.
The next time you’re scrolling through your For You page, I urge you to try and ignore the next video you see claiming the jacket they’re wearing is a must-have for the season. If you find yourself losing sleep over it, sift through Poshmark or another second-hand source to find a lookalike. Think about if you’ll wear the jacket a year or two from now.
Retail therapy can mean more than just selecting “confirm order” after a hard week. It can mean being conscious about what you’re consuming and feeling good about the steps you’re taking to protect the environment.
TikTok has most definitely revolutionized the fashion industry. Think of that scene from “The Devil Wears Prada” where Miranda Priestly is lecturing Andy Sachs on the roots of her fashion decisions and the legacy of the cerulean blue sweater. It’s unlikely any accessory or clothing choice we make now was solely determined on TikTok.
So, while the platform gave us micro-trends that proved to be fun but unsustainable, it also birthed creativity that knows no bounds, self-expression of the highest degree and, most importantly, a vision of brands committed to producing staples that can be passed down through generations.
So let’s say goodbye to overconsumption and hello to Miranda Priestly-level shrewdness.