From livestreaming high fashion shows to initiating trends, TikTok has developed a major role in the fashion world.
“No, it’s stupid.”
Whether you were the first voice or the second, we’ve all been a part of the above conversation. Me, personally? I was the second. I didn’t quite understand the appeal of an app filled with teenagers creating dance trends. I also expected TikTok to perish just like Vine did (R.I.P. Vine. Gone, but never forgotten).
It turns out I was just not on my side of TikTok.
Fast forward to today and I’m a TikTok-er with five whole videos to my name; sometimes I even hope to become TikTok famous. In hindsight, it’s a pretty cool app.
What surprises me most though isn’t my swift change in heart, but how much of an impact TikTok has had on the fashion community. My biggest revelation was noticing how much it can bring people together, and how remarkable it is in introducing you to creators in your own locality. Take Lexson Millington of @lexsonator, for example. Usually when I think of fashion, I picture European cities or New York and L.A. — Toronto rarely makes it to the forefront of "fashion capital." But now, I have discovered one of my favourite fashion creators that is, well, creating in my own backyard. Millington assembles punchy ensembles and places them up against the Toronto skyline and other city spots. His style and ingenuity configures the city into a complete other world. It feels nice knowing that Fashion TikTok stretches across the globe.
What is Fashion TikTok?
Fashion TikTok is exactly what it sounds like - the fashion side of TikTok. It’s where designers, fashion enthusiasts, people who don’t understand fashion, and utilitarian dressers can come together to share, appreciate, and learn. It’s essentially a community. But now that I’ve acquainted myself with all things TikTok, what exactly is Fashion TikTok’s place during the COVID era?
“TikTok blew up in the fashion space in March 2020 when [the pandemic] first arrived [in North America]. I feel everyone was bored at home. Since we cannot style outfits to wear outside, why not style them for videos?” says Amy Roiland, otherwise known as @afashionnerd on TikTok.
I agree with her. Due to COVID, the pleasure of showing off your outfits dissipated, with little opportunity other than an essential trip to the store. TikTok provides the perfect excuse to dress up. This corner of TikTok has a positive influence in the fashion community — it makes people more comfortable with their style. It inspires people to experiment with pieces that they’ve never thought of wearing.
Madison Loaiza-Brotherton (the creator behind @frogfitz) perfectly explains this by saying, “I see it as a platform to allow others to see that there are no rules with fashion. Wear that shirt as a skirt. Wear that costume dress to the grocery store. Put beads in your hair just to go play in the forest. Everyone’s perspective of fashion is different and that’s so beautiful to see!”
The Personal Aspect
TikTok does an impressive job of keeping not only the fashion community engaged, but all of their users engaged. With 800 million monthly active users (Taulli, 2020), there is definitely some kind of magic that is incorporated into their app to keep their users active. What is that magic, you may be asking? It's their For You Page. The For You Page, or FYP, is an AI that keeps track of users’ activity to figure out what content should pop up on their feed (Vicente, 2021). For example, if you like a lot of videos that involve street style, then TikTok will dilute your FYP with streetwear videos.
“The app is specifically designed to cater to you. This makes the audience want to use the platform even more since the content that they are exposed to is usually what they are interested in, whereas with some platforms, that personal aspect can be felt less.” describes content creator @SXRENE.
Fashion Trends in Music
Another aspect that makes TikTok so addicting is the music (Vicente, 2021). And honestly, it makes sense — the name before was Musically. Songs can be remixed, revived from the past, mashed up with other songs to create daily trends, and then placed behind your videos. This is definitely seen in Fashion TikTok. One of my favourite trends is when creators use Dirty Harry by The Gorillaz to show off what their outfits would be if they were in a cartoon. Ashley from @bestdressed does this nicely.
Exposure For Creators
Most users are preferring TikTok over other social media apps because of the wide range of content that they are being exposed to. They aren’t just getting content from people that they follow, they receive content from everyone. If you notice, on Instagram, there is a whole section called the explore page which is completely separated from your timeline. Although, on TikTok, you get the best of both worlds—creators that you follow and creators that might appeal to you. As Loaiza-Brotherton says, “You don’t open the app to a storyline of the creators you follow, like most apps. You open the app to an array of different creators, whom you may or may not follow already. It puts out a lot of content for consumption, continuously.” It’s a petri dish for building community, if you ask me.
“People can be very encouraging even if you don’t know them personally, which can be very motivating,” adds @SXRENE. TikTok allows the community to connect with each other. It allows creators to create videos that specifically answer followers’ questions, duet others, and create a different ending for videos using the stitch feature, which allows for more interaction than other platforms. It makes people feel good knowing that their favourite creator noticed them. It also makes the creator feel good.
“I love bringing smiles on peoples faces with my videos and style. I have a super fun quirky style that stops people in their tracks. Everyone wants to know what my inspiration for my style comes from. It is such a fun space to be in and create in,” cheered Roiland.
So, what is the future of Fashion TikTok? What is the future of fashion as a whole and how does TikTok impact it? Due to the world becoming increasingly digital, many brands are using TikTok to advertise. From high fashion brands to smaller brands, TikTok is the way to go if you want to reach an audience.
Take Dior for example. They say that shopping for their label is an experience rather than just the act of buying an item (Achille & Zipser, 2020). Since they can’t create that experience in person right now, they try to create it as best as possible through using online platforms. Other luxury brands are using TikTok to livestream fashion shows, promote, and demonstrate their creative process. They’re even directly scouting TikTok creators as models.
It’s very plausible that TikTok will continuously have an impact on the fashion world. As much as I initially criticized TikTok, the app is wonderful. It allows individuals to be themselves and share their passion with others, and creates a community where you can discover new things that you otherwise wouldn’t have before.