Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Is TikTok the new fashion trend?

Rachel Choi
Illustration Rachel Choi

Opinion editors are not responsible for agreeing or disagreeing with their writers but rather elevate each individual’s specific voice.

There has been a recent rise in UGG consumers, an influx in Amazon shoppers, and altogether a spike in fashion dupes. Interestingly enough, though, all these products have been available for plenty of time, but are just now gaining momentous popularity. Why? It’s all thanks to TikTok.

As a result of TikTok, styles such as cottage-core, an aesthetic that celebrates simple living, and Barbie-core, which encapsulates Barbie’s fun and vivacious way of living, have become popular. The list of aesthetics popularized by Tiktok is endless: goblin-core, fairy-core, and many more. 

With that, there is the rise of microtrends—fashion fads that peak in popularity before quickly falling out of current fashion—proliferated by social media. TikTok has millions of users who repeatedly watch hauls and sponsored videos that expose consumers to products or brands that they algorithmically want to purchase. 

For example, Remi Bader, an NYC-based Curve Model and full-time influencer on TikTok, garnered popularity when she started posting clothing hauls. She gave her unfiltered opinions on how brands like Zara, Aritzia, and Target fit plus-sized women, which created a mass following.

Many people watched Bader to get fashion inspiration, but that quickly changed when the influencer fell into TikTok’s generalized marketing scheme to bring in users. Nonetheless, millions of viewers blindly followed her opinions and reflected them in their own lives. 

This raises the question: does succumbing to these trends fuel or erase self-expression? The answer is clear: the fashion industry pervading TikTok is robbing individuals’ sense of identity through their clothing.  

Before the rise of social media, other mediums like catalogs, newspapers, and television were consumers’ primary sources to explore upcoming fashion trends. Before TikTok, most girls weren’t styling their hair with baby-pink coquette style, bringing back the iconic low-rise jeans, or declaring the Aerie flared leggings as a must have.

Before fashion became digitized, celebrities like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton influenced their fans not by telling them how to dress, but rather by teaching the importance of expression. 

Spears indeed was the queen of 2000s fashion with her outlandish style specifically tailored for her. Similarly, Hilton was an ambassador for 2000s fashion with her “candy-pink outfits, rhinestone glasses, trucker hats and velour Juicy Couture tracksuits,” said Vogue Fashion and Culture editor Alexandre Marain

Hilton and Spears were known for styling themselves and dictating what they wore. In her memoir, “The Woman In Me,” Spears explains how an iconic fashion choice with Justin Timberlake was her idea and that she had pitched it to her stylist to make the vision tangible

Fashion icons of the aughts weren’t yet in a fully digital era where fashion inspiration was derived solely from online trends. They were dabbling in different elements of fashion like low-rise jeans, leg warmers, chunky belts, and not conforming to a certain style.

Some could say that, for people growing up now, a wardrobe has never been easier. Instead of experiencing prolonged awkward stages of experimentation with clothes, today’s teenagers and young adults are told what to wear, down to their Skims underwear. 

It’s important that instead of following what the next TikTok influencer is saying, you choose to discover what items encapsulate your personality and identity by exposing yourself to a wide variety of looks from the past and present, prioritizing what feels like you. If you see something that interests you, buy it. Teenagers often spend too much time “thinking about what they should be wearing versus what they feel like wearing and truly expressing themselves—all thanks to microtrends and aesthetics,” said Anna Mikhaylyants, a writer for The Harvard Crimson. 

Microtrends have personal implications on consumer’s identities and tastes. In a fast-paced consumer culture, it is difficult to distinguish between clothing and trends you genuinely like or ones that social media expertly convinces you to like.

Everyone ventures onto the path of self-discovery, and it is no secret that fashion is an important form of self-expression and identity. Personal style is something that morphs over time as we navigate through different stages of our lives, reflecting on our growth and internal change. Let yourself go through these phases: it makes looking back on it all the much more entertaining and meaningful. 

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