Whenever I talk to friends or colleagues, we run into the topic of what ‘side’ of TikTok each of us are on. While I’ve been seeing a mass of frog videos pop up on my FYP, others are blasted with Matilda Djerf. After self-reflecting on my Tiktok experience I sent out a survey to the Tonitruale team to hear their thoughts on how their FYP impacts their wardrobe.
The influence of tiktok
We’ve all seen things online that we instantly want, most recently for me it has been an embroidered Edward Cullen t-shirt that says, “this is the ass of a killer” and mushroom glassware. But while I always look at these things, I’ve never made the jump and pressed “order”.
54.5% of survey respondents have purchased something they’ve seen on TikTok, such as clothing, books, accessories and homeware, and 54.5% have been influenced not to buy or wear something.
While I have never purchased anything from TikTok, it is evident that the app has a large impact on what we wear and buy, as more than half of respondents recall making purchases inspired by the app.
The good, the bad and the ugly: TikTok & sustainability
TikTok has a complicated relationship with the fashion industry. It promotes living sustainably through thrifting and minimalism, while also driving mass consumption.
Because TikTok thrives on short term trends, it propels this same idea into the fashion industry. It has created faster fashion life cycles through short term trends, creating more waste through overconsumption. Not to mention, a lot of the trending brands are fast fashion companies which are known to be especially harmful (for example, Shein).
It's not all bad, over on ThriftTok shopping secondhand is encouraged, showing users that they don’t have to purchase things constantly in order to be fashionable. There are many accounts which encourage DIYing thrift finds to customize your own personal style. Also, one survey respondent pointed out that creators will shine light onto unethical brands, sharing knowledge otherwise unknown to a lot of consumers. This puts the power in the consumers hands, allowing them to make informed decisions about who they support.
As a platform with hundreds of niches, TikTok has something for everyone. The link between dress and identity comes into play when seeking validation from a community or subculture on TikTok. Several survey respondents mentioned the pressure they feel to dress a certain way in order to be accepted into their community. For example, in order to ‘look’ gay, one must wear a frog hat or cuff their jeans. This type of gatekeeping can be toxic to people's self-image, forcing them to dress a certain way out of obligation rather than desire.
On the other hand, the app also encourages individuality when not feeling pressured to conform to dress norms. Because there are so many niches, TikTok has a diverse range of creators to feel inspired by.
Community & inclusivity
54.5% of respondents reported feeling connected to their community on TikTok, the main reason being that it is easy to find like-minded people with similar interests. Part of the Tonitruale team stated that they have been influenced by the app to wear certain things in order to feel connected to their community, such as cuffing their jeans and wearing rings. Whether interacting with creators on the app, or feeling inspired by its content, TikTok transcends its virtual sphere to connect people, as cheesy as it may sound. Based on TikTok trends, members of communities can identify one another, on and off of the app.
TikTok also provides a platform for Gen Z creators to break boundaries and make waves in the fashion industry. Since the app gives the power to its users to decide what content gets made and what is trending, consumers are able to have a greater impact on the fashion industry and what products are successful.
TikTok even showcases diversity in the fashion industry. One respondent claimed that they felt empowered by seeing male fashion representation on the app, dismantling the misconception that fashion is women driven. Since TikTok’s algorithm makes it so that anyone can appear on your FYP, it is easy to find your niche and interact with content you feel empowered by.
One main takeaway from the Tonitruale team: scroll with caution. While TikTok is a platform which allows for greater connectivity, it can be toxic. The comment section is said to be extra bad on this app, so keep clear of any negativity where possible. To do this, it is important to find the right community, one that is inclusive, respectful and educational. Happy scrolling!