With the CoronaVirus pandemic disrupting the global fashion calender’s most important season, the social media platform TikTok has announced its own fashion month. By doing this TikTok is trying to threaten Instagram’s supremacy over fashion content online.
All we know about TikTok’s fashion month
TikTok fashion month – a digital event like no other. In this month-long event TikTok users can begin using today through October 8. And this event is also set to feature a variety of new hashtags, creative effects and live videos. It will see a Livestream of two fashion shows a week from labels such as Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent and Alice + Olivia. Meanwhile, JW Anderson will debut their women’s spring/summer 21 collection on TikTok. The final night’s show, hosted by 22-year-old singer-songwriter Nick Tangorra, will also see some of the app’s popular “creators” making their runway debuts.
The traditional “big four” fashion weeks — New York, London, Milan and Paris — are all still going ahead this September, albeit with limited guest numbers, outdoor events and digital showcases. But TikTok’s Fashion Month, described by the platform as “immersive,” offers a novel response to the sharp decline in physical shows since Covid-19 took hold in Europe and the US.
“With the majority of people still quarantined at home, and limiting their social engagements, brands have had to quickly pivot to discover new ways to connect with their customers while also bringing creative streetwear and runway to fans,” according to a press release announcing the event. “That’s where TikTok comes in.”
Up until very recently, fashion was an industry slow to adapt to the platform, which launched in China in 2016 and has since taken off explosively, especially with young people. But while the events are scheduled to run through October 8, later shows may not be available in the US, with the Trump administration threatening to ban TikTok on September 20 unless its Chinese owner sells the app.
Fashion Labels making TikTok accounts to take advantage of its huge user base
Brands participating in TikTok’s inaugural events may not all be giving up on the traditional fashion calendar just yet — Louis Vuitton is set to appear at Paris Fashion Week, for instance. But their presence is a sign of how important TikTok and its users have become to the luxury market.
Fendi, Balenciaga and Dior are among the growing number of labels to open official accounts on the platform in the hope of tapping into its huge user base, which, the app says, includes 100 million people in the US alone. A variety of industry figures, including Bella Hadid and Cara Delevingne, are active on the platform, and Gucci is also proving a hit thanks to the unofficial “Gucci Model Challenge,” which sees users layering different garments to create styles reminiscent of the Italian label.
Also, the spirited, outdoorsy cottagecore movement – the hashtag has 3bn views – and the gothy Dark Academia – 61m – were popular sartorial arenas. While the #harrystylescardigan challenge, which saw TikTok users trying to create the rainbow JW Anderson cardigan the singer Harry Styles wore on US TV, was social and all-embracing.
TikTok Vs Instagram in Fashion Industry
Over a summer where the fashion industry’s usual furious pace was replaced by an existential crisis in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, “online” became the new heart of the industry as the catwalks emptied due to health fears. Short, earnest, arty films replaced physical fashion shows and, unexpectedly, the most compelling and fun fashion trends moved on to TikTok, where users created endless fashion content that often went viral.
“We’ve seen the fashion industry reinvent what luxury fashion means to culture and society through TikTok by bringing fashion into the homes of our community during quarantine,” said CeCe Vu, fashion content partnership lead at TikTok, in a statement about their fashion month. Although the platform isn’t in direct competition with Instagram – the other social media platform most aligned with fashion – the differences between the two social media giants are significant. TikTok is seen as a scrappy insurgent in the fashion world, whereas Instagram is more traditional and carefully curated.
“TikTok is where authenticity meets creativity and people are genuinely comfortable sharing their true selves, from personal style to fashion,” said Lauren Jenkins, TikTok’s creator communications leader.
Where Instagram has a comment section, TikTok creates a more immersive and communal link between the fashion label and user thanks, in part, to the hashtag challenges. “The TikTok experience is completely different from other social platforms and that uniqueness is a real draw to fashion labels,” said Jenkins. Of course, there is also a lot of money at stake. Despite the young average age of a TikTok user in which 69% are 13-24 years old, and their spending potential is huge.
“They have a huge influence over what their older parents purchase,” said Schiffer. “They can dictate everything from what food is eaten in the home to what clothing brands are purchased most. Getting in the good graces of Gen Z now, as their marketing power is building, is the smartest move a brand can make.”
Luxury fashion labels taking notice at TikTok influencers
In July Celine’s campaign for its spring/summer 21 campaign was visually inspired equally by skaters and TikTok’s e-boy subculture. The short film from the brand’s creative director, Hedi Slimane, featured TikTok influencers Noen Eubanks, Chase Hudson and Anthony Reeves. In the same month, Marc Jacobs unveiled his new handbag campaign featuring the hair sculpture artist Laetitia Ky, who has 1 million TikTok followers.
“TikTok influencers will become just as, if not more, important than Instagram influencers for fashion marketing,” said Schiffer. “We’ll see them lining the front row, starring in high-fashion campaigns and hosting brand events.”