How has TikTok changed fashion retail?

Written by Alfie Driver.


TikTok’s Rise In Fashion Culture. 

TikTok, Fashion, Sustainability? If you are interested in any of those things, then you are in the right place. TikTok has made a massive impact on the fashion industry; with many trends skyrocketing purely due to the publicity that the app has brought them. Influencers and creators alike have dedicated their online profiles to the latest clothing crazes, providing tips on how to make sure your wardrobe coincides with the newest fads.

The video-sharing platform has been around since 2017. In recent years, following the pandemic, its popularity has reached an all-time high as 144 countries have adopted the platform. Previously known as, the demographic for the app has drastically changed. When the network was originally invented, it was predominately used by young females aged 13-24. As of 2022, a mass of 1 billion people all over the world tap into the app each month, vastly widening its audience.

Hashtags are a commonly used function that allows a user’s content to connect with larger groups. Usage of these tags is a great way to title your video, making sure that your content reaches the right crowd. #FashionTikTok has obtained over 7 billion views and is continuing to grow daily, as #Fashion has amassed 120 billion total plays. The popularity of fashion is justified through these extortionate numbers.

Menswear has taken the industry by storm over the past decade. The British Fashion Council nominated the company to be the principal partner for the 2021 Fashion Awards. From oversized shirts to graphic design clothing, the modernised fashion world has had a huge change in scenery. We have seen everything from tote bags to varsity jackets edge their way to people’s wardrobes, and we just can’t get enough of it. Videos are being shared on the platform every minute, consisting of the hottest clothing items this season. We’re constantly stalking out new brands to better our everyday style and getting our dosage of brand-new releases. Trends have come and gone over the years, but 2022 is here to keep you looking fly all year round.

TikTok is the mainstream decider of the latest crazes. Before its debut, Instagram was the platform for performing our own aesthetics. Meanwhile, Pinterest and Tumblr were our tools for discovering them. When it comes down to TikTok, it combines both into a singular app; the For You page is a loophole for exploring ultramodern styles. Once the algorithm detects your, even slight, interest in fashion, it becomes your present-day database for the internet’s most recent inspiration. You’re guaranteed to find distinctive content every day, unlike its earlier competitors – which are now repetitive and grounded. The app has had a huge positive influence on the way that we dress today; your favourite creator’s OOTD’s and clothing hauls have sent you into a never-ending spiral of fashion outlets. But we’re not complaining, right?

The Controversy. 

Amongst the success of the TikTok fashion world, there has been some controversy that has taken place on the platform. Last year, Converse was accused of stealing designs from an influencer, passing them off as their own. Cecilia Monge, an online personality, published a video comparing her submissions to the designs that were shared by the company. The video gained several million views, and people were all over it.

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Embed from Getty Images

Monge stated, “…you learn that this is something that happens to smaller designers and, unfortunately, is super common”. She made the video in hopes to spread awareness of her situation and making people conscious of companies stealing ideas from smaller creators. After going viral on various platforms, it was picked up by ‘Diet Prada’ on Instagram. The fashion watchdog contributed to the publicity of the story by producing a post, stating how the enterprise cheated Monge out of her artwork. Everyone was talking about it and eventually, Converse got wind of the accusations causing them to issue a declaration on the ‘false’ claims. “…this concept and design was completed before we received an application from the candidate”.

The resemblance between the designs was uncanny, causing disbelief amongst customers. While the whole circumstance could just be a coincidence, it highlights to other designers how difficult it can be to protect yourself legally in the fashion world. Funnily enough, this isn’t the only instance of design-thieving allegations that have occurred on the app.

WeWoreWhat, a previously up-and-coming brand, was under fire after micro-entrepreneurs affirmed that Danielle Bernstein was shamelessly replicating their clothing lines. Tension was built on the teen-flooded platform, as controversial criticism was plastered over numerous comment sections. Like Converse, the popular Instagram watchdog ‘Diet Prada’ called out Bernstein’s behaviour, ultimately resulting in the pieces being removed from the collection by retailers. This was one of many incidents. This has become normalised within the industry which damages smaller businesses while handing over profit to well-known brands. In the taste of the crowd, I hope that we can reach a point where these creators are able to defend their products and that these organisations receive the appropriate backlash. The power that these brands hold within the industry is ridiculous, they can lie and pay their way out of their actions making it impossible to escape these cases, creating a huge disadvantage for affected brands. However, any publicity is good publicity. Many creators and companies have this mindset and, it will often work in their favour. I’ve seen it happen and I can’t imagine it changing anytime soon.


Fashion Trend Revivals.

Moving on. Let’s talk about all the biggest and greatest trends that have emerged from the app. Comebacks have been made and we’ve discovered some hot sellers. Here’s a of my favourites that have come out over previous months:

  • North Face Puffer Jacket.
  • Vintage Clothing.
  • Upcycling.
  • Long Hairstyles.
  • Thrifting.
  • Streetwear.

All these products/styles have had a huge breakthrough among all the latest fads. We all want to keep our wallets happy while looking snazzy. What’s the best way to find refurbished clothing for just a fraction of the price? Thrifting and upcycling. Thrifting has become the most beneficial way to improve your environmental impact. You can save those extra pounds whilst rocking your all-time best-loved outfits. So, what exactly is thrifting?

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Thrifting has become a widely known approach to replenish your attire. Whether it’s your local charity shop or second-hand clothing from sellers online, you’re guaranteed to please your bank account and balance your carbon footprint. This ordeal had been looked down upon for many years, but it’s now up to the minute. You can express yourself, unleashing your creativity to stand out from the rest. Many people find joy in this activity, as they are regularly looking for elements to spice up their ensemble.

Let’s talk statistics. Studies have found that the UK is the fourth-largest producer of textile waste in Europe. The average Brit throws away 1.7 kilograms of clothing yearly. There is a revolutionary solution to lowering these numbers, that of which is reselling your wardrobe contents. Why dump your garments when you can repurpose them? Sell them. Recycle them. It’s a get-rich-quick method and will keep your pockets filled. You will find that the longer an item lasts outside of a landfill, the more durable and reliable it is. Vintage is the rage right now.

Upcycling is the perfect way to upgrade your thrifted items. If you just need to repair or want to add your own personal touch to your used clothing, this could be your latest hobby. There are countless videos that have been published by creators which involve upcycling second-hand products. Watching the transformation of old t-shirts, jeans, shoes, and jackets is mesmerising.

Try it out. Support your local charity. You can’t go wrong.

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With all this combined, we have accustomed to ‘streetwear’. The new-fangled fashion culture that everyone is obsessed with. 2000s skaters had a monumental influence on pop culture which birthed the idea of streetwear. Ever since its appearance, it has made its journey through mainstream brands and customers’ closets. Source: HIGHXTAR

This used to be the go-to style for young males and skaters alike, which has made a complete U-turn in the past decade. The exclusivity of this style isn’t so exclusive anymore as people from various backgrounds have endorsed the idea of incorporating these items into their everyday dress. Models and influencers are regularly seen ‘repping’ streetwear brands and clothing. Famous brands such as Adidas and Nike, notorious for their sportswear, have dipped into streetwear design. It is recognised by all fashion counterparts, making its way up to high fashion, such as Vogue.

Kanye West is a prime example for promoting such high-class fashion. He is no stranger to brands like Supreme, who have been in the streetwear phase for much longer than most other franchises. Celebrities and influencers are the leading blueprints of emerging trends such as these, as they are only deemed to be in fashion or cool if worn by big names. I don’t see designer streetwear dying out anytime soon. If anything, it has just started. From the information we are fed from these outlets, there is still so much in store and I’m excited to see the future of streetwear.

The future of streetwear will be determined by prospective small businesses. We, as customers, have the responsibility to make sure that our favourite brands are taking the correct steps to ensure sustainability. Investing in micro brands is the correct path for us to take, especially those that are taking the right ethical and environmental considerations. Without the help of this generation, big brands will continue to throw off the industry leaving an imbalance for newcomers.

My experience with microbrands has been just as positive as it would be with any other, without the guilt of destroying the environment. Having a sense of balance in fashion retail is important. The market is being controlled by favoured labels and there are several alternatives to them, at a much smaller cost.

Trademarks such as boohoo and SHEIN are dominating the market whilst simultaneously wrecking it, and it’s all down to money-making. Fast fashion is a bane to the industry and it’s taking over.

What is fast fashion?.

In simple words, it is the manufacturing of inexpensive clothing that is inspired by celebrity culture, turning it into quick and easy purchasing for shoppers. Marketing these mass-producing clothing lines to a wide audience is dangerous. What these companies forget to declare is how it will affect our planet, our oceans and pollution rates. Fast fashion is highly associated with destructing our ecosystem through poor fabrication of products. For consumers, all they see is price tags. Cheap price tags. Because who doesn’t want to save money?

It is a clever yet deviant way to market to and collect customers, however it isn’t everything that meets the eye. TikTok has shone light upon this issue and has convinced users to start looking into brands before buying products. It will take a lot longer for more people to start taking the same considerations, but it isn’t happening fast enough. We need to stress the importance of reading up on these labels before investing in them, otherwise the industry will be brought to a halt. Check out your friend’s business, your colleague’s online shop, or even a smaller creator’s footwear line you’ve come across online.

The issue with fast fashion isn’t being publicised as much as it should, as it is not what you are being sold. Do your own research and start making the right decisions. Who is making these clothing lines? Will they last?

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What’s the solution?

The solution is sustainable fashion. Sustainability in the fashion industry is the way forward. It is a movement that considers the idea of fostering change to products, considering who is producing them and their lifespan. Fashion can still be fashionable without the detrimental side effects. This mindset is expanding throughout, as more individuals are being more cautious of their carbon footprint. With this, we are beginning to combat greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, climate change and air pollution. Eventually, we could possibly prevent many thousands of deaths of eco-systems, animals and humans in the next decade. Quality of clothing is a big factor in whether I’d add a product to my own wardrobe. No one wants fabric fraying on their jacket or the soles falling off their shoes. Reviews are a fantastic way to find out more about a company or specific attire. They are made by customers, for customers which gives us upmost responsibility for continuation of brands. You should receive what you are being sold, not underlying faults being hidden from you.

However, on the flip side, enterprises are becoming more aware of their production. For example, Nike are heading on a ‘carbon neutral journey’ by improving their overall selection of products. In doing so, we will be able to trust these companies and continue to indulge in our favourite labels.

So, TikTok has changed fashion retail immensely. For the better too! From spreading awareness on design plagiarism, to highlighting the improvement of ethical and environmental considerations, the app has pressed a positive impact on the fashion world. People are 81% more likely to buy from brands that advocate for sustainable fashion, which has been massively influenced by the platform. The industry has been changed forever and will hopefully continue to go down the correct path.

With that, I’m off to discover some more menswear brands on TikTok, and empty my bank account in the process. Thank you for reading.

“Fashion is the armour to survive the reality of everyday life.” Bill Cunningham



Photos from:

-Matthew Sperzel on Getty Images – Bucket Hat & Jumper.

-Bloomberg on Getty Images – Thrift Store.

-Christian Vierig on Getty Images – Chuck Taylors Converse Shoes.

-Brandon Magnus on Getty Images – Kanye West.

-Denis Charlet on Getty Images – Tik Tok Logo.

-Ready Made on Pexels – Recycling Bag. (Lead Photo).

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