Social media platform TikTok has heralded its own Fashion Month as a digital innovation aimed at keeping up with physical fashion weeks around the world and jeopardizing Instagram’s supremacy over online fashion content.
The month-long event starts on Friday and ends on October 8th. It offers a variety of hashtags and live videos. There will be a livestream of two fashion shows per week from labels like Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent and Alice + Olivia. In the meantime, JW Anderson will be launching his Spring / Summer 21
Until recently, fashion was an industry that was slow to adapt to the platform that was launched in China in 2016 and has since gained explosive momentum, especially among young people.
“In my opinion [fashion labels] were unsure of their marketing potential, ”said Jessica Schiffer, editor of Vogue Business. “When it first launched outside of China, it was a platform full of non-famous people creating off-the-shelf tacit content,” she says. “The lack of stylization seemed likely to run counter to fashion, which loves the sophisticated boundaries of platforms like Instagram.”
During a summer when the usual rapid pace of the fashion industry was replaced by an existential crisis in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, “online” became the new heart of the industry as the catwalks were emptied for health reasons. Short, serious, artistic films replaced physical fashion shows and unexpectedly the most compelling and entertaining fashion trends went to TikTok, where users created endless fashion content that often went viral.
The spirited outdoor cottage core movement – the hashtag has 3 billion views – and the Gothic Dark Academia (61 m) were popular fashion arenas. During the #harrystylescardigan challenge, where TikTok users attempted to create the rainbow JW Anderson cardigan that singer Harry Styles wore on US television, was social and inclusive.
“We saw the fashion industry re-inventing what luxury fashion means to culture and society through TikTok by bringing fashion to our community’s homes during the quarantine,” said CeCe Vu, head of fashion content partnership at TikTok, in a statement about her fashion month.
While the platform isn’t in direct competition with Instagram – the other social media platform most geared towards fashion – the differences between the two social media giants are significant. TikTok is viewed as a seedy insurgent in the fashion world, while Instagram is more traditional and carefully curated.
“In TikTok, authenticity meets creativity and people are really comfortable sharing their true selves, from personal style to fashion,” said Lauren Jenkins, director of communications at TikTok.
Where Instagram has a comment area, TikTok creates a more immersive and collaborative connection between fashion label and user, thanks in part to hashtag challenges. “The TikTok experience is fundamentally different from other social platforms and that uniqueness is a real draw for fashion labels,” said Jenkins.
Of course, there is also a lot of money at stake. Despite the young average age of a TikTok user (69% are 13 to 24 years old), their spending potential is enormous.
“You have a big influence on what your older parents buy,” said Schiffer. “You can control everything from the foods people eat at home to the brands of clothing people buy most often. Now is the smartest step a brand can take to dig into the good things about Gen Z as their marketing power builds. “
Luxury fashion labels have taken note.
In July, Celine’s Spring / Summer 21 campaign was visually inspired by both skaters and TikTok’s e-boy subculture. The brand’s creative director Hedi Slimane’s short film featured TikTok influencers Noen Eubanks, Chase Hudson and Anthony Reeves. That same month, Marc Jacobs launched his new handbag campaign with hair sculptor Laetitia Ky, who has 1 million TikTok followers.
“[TikTok influencers] becomes just as important, if not more important than Instagram influencers for fashion marketing, ”said Schiffer. “We’ll see them stand in the front row, take part in high fashion campaigns and host branded events.”