Words: Eve Dickson (She/Her)
Unless you’re one of the elite few who smugly admit, ‘I’ve actually never had Tiktok!’ then you will be aware of the immense cultural impact of the notorious clock app. With OOTDs, microtrends, vintage styles re-circling and #ads, TikTok has transformed the fashion industry through endless scrolling. How we consume fashion has moved from print to digital, from Anna Wintour to Emma Chamberlain. It seems as though the transition from old decade to new has brought more than stockpiling loo roll and Megxit. Annual revenue from UK fashion magazines dropped by £29.1 million from 2018-2019 whilst TikTok boasted a 75.2% user increase in 2020. While the legacy of print magazines remains at the heart of the industry, for many, flipping through pages has been replaced by scrolling on phones as we hunt the hottest styles through a sea of 30-second videos set to catchy songs.
In the 80s, my mum revered photographs of Princess Di and Julia Roberts, jollied to the newsagents for a copy of Company, and eagerly tuned into Top of the Pops each Friday to see what everyone was wearing. Today, I refresh my FYP and wait for someone to pose in front of their screen, in a perfectly set up shot, sporting a trend that won’t be relevant in a few months’ time. I’d love to say I have an eye for comfy footwear, and that it’s a coincidence I’m in the market for Birkenstock Clogs after Mada Graviet got a pair, but I’d be lying.
The growth of digital consumption and “old school” trends falling behind isn’t a new phenomenon. But whilst online shopping and fashion blogging joined the race in the early 2000s, the rise of TikTok has totally changed the game. The influence the app has is almost insurmountable. On a platform where I can go from Myra Magdalen (@myramagdalen) making an outfit with an actual aquarium attached to her to Miriam Margolyes giving me sex advice, it appears anything is possible. Fashion dominates our FYP’s, becoming a key source of style inspo and a guide to self-expression. We have turned to fashion TikTokers and influencers for guidance, whether we realise it or not. By consuming their discourse on a trend or product, our brains subconsciously become aware of what they’re selling. Before you know it, you’ll be dropping in the, ‘Oh yeah, I think I saw that on TikTok!’ line.
It is no surprise that an app which displays quick, short video content has caused a growth in fashion microtrends. Consequently, the pace of the trend cycle has increased. Communities on TikTok are told to ‘run, don’t walk’ to get their hands on the newest items. Once viral, a product is in high-demand, driving exploitative manufacturing and bulk production by competitive fast fashion brands.
When Alexa Demie wore a black cut out dress for NYE in season 2 of Euphoria, hot girls on TikTok ate it up like it was the modern-day Revenge Dress. Knockoffs and dupes of the original ANKA dress by Aidan Euan were made in bulk by Shein and PrettyLittleThing in response to masses. The trends that go viral on TikTok are ephemeral, they pop-off in one day and are flops the next. As Heidi Klum once said, ‘One day you’re in, and the next, you’re out’ and baby, this app is no exception.
In a world that is screaming at us to slow down, our habits are getting faster, and our attention spans are getting shorter. When fashion magazines like Vogue were the pinnacle of style inspiration, the Miranda Priestleys of the world reigned in deciding what we wore, and readers would wait in anticipation to find out what was hot.
Is this a lost art? Will the excitement of waiting for print issues with seasonal trends and monthly ‘must haves’ make a resurgence? This would speak to the pattern of postmodern consumption, where products and services return to their roots making vintage ‘the new, new’. It feels as though there is a nostalgic drive in youth culture, a yearning to consume from the past as a break from what we know in the present. The music industry has seen the interest for vinyls, cassettes and even the Walkman’s return. Pinterest bedrooms are suitably designed with an aesthetically pleasing record player in the corner, and every skinny boy drinking a flat white swears ‘the timbre is better on vinyl’. My mum couldn’t believe it when I pulled out my Kodak Funsaver 35mm. She said all those years of waiting weeks to reveal our holiday pics were mostly of my dad’s thumb weren’t glamorous – disposable cameras would never make a comeback. TikTok would claim otherwise.
So, perhaps following the desire for vintage, the future of fashion influence will come full circle. Maybe soon someone on TikTok will pick up a copy of Vogue and all of a sudden, ‘the girls that get it, get it’. All I know is, if Emma Chamberlain does it, I’ll be right behind her.