‘I don’t dress cool so men will pay attention to me. I dress cool so thirteen-year-old girls will walk by me down the street and whisper to their friends: “did you see that girl’s outfit? She looked so f***ing cool”’. For Generation Z, Tiktok is the platform for a new era of fashion freedom.
The Chinese video-sharing app with an addictively unforgiving algorithm has quickly become a Gen Z playground. Filled to the brim with fast, choppy videos expressing everything from advice regarding daily self-care to ‘Gordon Ramsey reacts’. There is a place for everyone, which I think is part of the appeal.
Users experiment with clothing without the restraint of public judgement or mainstream styles around them.
Users have built a zeitgeist of acceptance as clashing sub-cultures and aesthetics co-exist in an extraordinary cultural soup of conversation, exchange, and adaptation. Think cottagecore meets E-boy meets a guy baking croissants from the heat of his dashboard. Crazy, I know.
The software seems to have revolutionized the likes of Instagram, whose main ‘feed’ is solely comprised by posts from those you follow. This creates a kind of stale echo chamber in comparison to TikTok’s fresh and often unpredictable influx of information.
The app has quickly become a tool for fashion and personal style exploration, as users experiment with clothing without the restraint of public judgement or mainstream styles around them. It has also offered a platform for those in lockdown to flex their creative muscles.
Talented home-sewers take to Tiktok to turn deadstock vintage clothing and scrap fabric into modern reworked pieces, often using the app as a vehicle to showcase work which they sell on Depop. Allowing them to not only promote their creativity but also the sustainable fashion movement.
Certain styles are prevalent on the app- ‘Y2k,’ short for ‘year 2000’ is one rooted in the technologisation of the late 90s and early 2000s. It is characterised by a sense of luxury and fun, imbued with pop culture references like Mean Girls and Britney Spears. It offers a resurgence in low-rise jeans, lace slips and (some would say extremely) mini bags.
Sustainable fashion outlets like ‘andagain’, ‘House of Sunny’ and ‘Lucy & Yak’ have harnessed TikTok’s potential as an advertising platform, creating short, stylistic videos and capitalising on the app’s audience (41% of its users are aged between 16 and 24) to sell their products to the fashion-conscious young.
Brands can interact on a personal level with consumers, with the ‘duet’ feature allowing criticism and response to take place – both publicly and instantaneously. The app also holds space for those interested in fashion education, as creators like Declan Chan and ‘fashionboyy’ highlight prolific designers and runway collections both historic and current which have shaped the trajectory of fashion today.
Tiktok has certainly triggered a new, unfiltered aesthetic exploration of style
The app has also seen users celebrating fashion as an art form, with a popular sound “calling all fashion fanatics” to show their favourite clothing pieces in a cultivated personal wardrobe highlight-reel — often an eclectic mash-up of charity shop finds, vintage designer brands and sentimental treasures- there seems to be a real focus on creativity and building a unique, one-of-a-kind style. Users also engage in fashion artistically with videos showcasing #whatidwear in different scenarios, films and decades.
Tiktok has certainly triggered a new, unfiltered aesthetic exploration of style which reveals how we use fashion for different occasions and to signal our complex and changing identities. It has also celebrated the fashion of different cultures- with a recent spotlight on Chinese Streetwear displaying the talent and creativity of people across the globe.
So, despite its controversy, the app, with the many trends it has produced, has cemented itself into the collective consciousness of our generation. It has shown how fashion can be many things- creative, empowering and a force for sustainable change.
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