How TikTok has influenced the fashion industry
Fashion trends have always come and gone. The idea that things go in and out of fashion is a story as old as time. Capri pants, tie-dyes, and oversized shoulder pads had their moment. Today, trends still come and go, of course, but their pace is very different. While trends used to last for years or even a whole decade, now six months is generous. Especially among generation Z, so Heidi Klum’s phrase, “Fashion, one day it’s fashionable and the next it’s not”, could not be more true. One component that could be attributed to fueling this behavior is none other than the TikTok platform. On this social network, trends come and go even faster than designers can produce their collections.
TikTok has accelerated the pace of microtrends
TikTok’s huge rise to status as a fashion world actor is due in no small part to the coronavirus pandemic. The platform exploded when everyone was locked in his house with nowhere to go and little to do.
Over time, once Haute Couture brands like Gucci joined the platform, the floodgates opened for good. TikTok quickly established itself as the next big fashion platform alongside Instagram, in a way that has arguably transformed the entire fashion industry.
Compared to other social network predecessors, such as Instagram, which until now featured a static feed, or YouTube, which tends to feature longer videos, TikTok stood out for its short videos. At most, a TikTok user has three minutes to offer you the content you want. With this, in addition to giving birth to even shorter attention spans, microtrends have been ushered in.
Unlike trends, which have a respectable shelf life, microtrends come and go as fast as we can change clothes. During the first half of 2022, TikTok was largely responsible for the birth of the typical “cottagecore” aesthetic of, say, the New England grandmother at her summer house on Martha’s Vineyard. Then came the Barbiecore aesthetic, which made the color pink so popular that “Elle Woods from Legally Blonde” would wear it to a picnic. Also, there were microtrends like goblincore, angel core, clown core… the list of “cores” is endless. Many of them came and went so quickly that fashion media platforms didn’t even get a chance to dig into them. It was an unexpected situation.
With all this amount of “core” trends and microtrends, most brands that operate on a seasonal cycle can’t keep up. Microtrends are a money opportunity for fast fashion brands that can produce this many clothes and have them in stores in three weeks.
The rise in popularity of brands like Shein has also contributed to this. Shein is known to offer between 700 and 1,000 new styles daily, making it the fastest of the fast fashion brands. As a result, Shein is considered one of the least sustainable fashion brands in the industry. It is almost impossible to mass produce at that level and has no environmental costs.
In the end, the impact that TikTok has had on the fast fashion industry has been negative. Consumers need to be more aware of how they shop, and there should be more reluctance to jump on microtrends. While the big influencers on TikTok promote sustainable fashion and provide fashion education, beware of those promoting fast fashion brands and trends that could be gone before you blink.