TikTok’s Influence on the Fashion Industry

Picture of Lisa Saager

Lisa Saager

Creative Business Student

When thinking about fashion inspiration and finding the newest trends, Instagram is probably the first platform that comes to mind. After years of influencers, discount codes, and hashtags, Instagram has risen to the top of the most influential and memorable social media platforms. Especially when it comes to the fashion world. In the past year, TikTok has stolen the spotlight. Could it possibly replace Instagram? and how big is its influence on the fashion industry?

TikTok was launched in 2018 and has since been downloaded more than 110 million times. It is mainly popular among generation Z, more precisely teens and adults between the ages of 16 and 24. The idea behind it is simple. Creators post videos with a maximum length of 60 seconds, which then get shown on multiple users’ “For You Pages“. Those users simply scroll down their personally customised page (that is curated through an algorithm) and react to the videos that interest them by liking, commenting and creating video responses. The whole construct is very fast-paced as the users don’t have to do anything but scroll down to get the content they like. Due to the algorithm users are exposed to topics/videos that they already have interest in.


That’s where Gen Z comes into play. A generation known for having a short attention span and being in constant need for new input. Whether it is comedic sketches, baking videos, or cool dances, TikTok has it all. But particularly the fashion industry has been booming on the rising social media platform. It is no wonder the app started thriving during the pandemic where millions of people had to stay at home for an unforeseeable time. Filled with boredom and the will for freedom, especially for younger generations, there was a big need for something to keep them entertained. They needed something to help them develop and express themselves but also to be inspired and hope for when it would all be over. Tik Tok, unlike Instagram, seems to have more relatable and realistic content – allowing every user to have a voice. And where can you show off all of your newest ideas, creations, and outfits. If not outside, where? Tik Tok! 


TikTok is giving millions of people the opportunity to express themselves in any way they want, most noticeably when it comes to fashion. Due to the special algorithm, Tik Tok makes it possible for users without lots of followers to go viral. Giving voices to everyone who wants to show what they like to wear and give inspiration to people who normally would not have looked them up on Instagram. It also supplies a lot of inspiration and ideas for example, by posting aesthetic videos of their take on sustainability with DIYs for sewing and crocheting and many different up-cycling ideas. 

This way of portraying what fashionable people around the world wear without having to have a significant following and without the pressure of obeying already set beauty and fashion standards allows many new trends to be set by TikTok users. In 2020 nobody on the app could find a way around Y2K fashion like the Von Dutch clothing and mini purses, but also sweater vests and tennis skirts had a huge moment simply because users decided they would start creating their own fashion trends and not follow what everybody else was doing on other social media platforms. But not only teenagers and young adults made use of the opportunity to join a large community of alike thinking people and fun challenges, even huge fashion brands started catching on to the amazing possibilities.  


During the last year, many fashion brands finally realised how much potential could actually be found in the app. Especially now that it is known that TikTok users have a brand recall that is three times greater than of any other community. 

Being on TikTok allows brands to be part of trends right when and where they are being created. Furthermore, it makes it easier for them to connect to their younger audience, also on a deeper level by creating challenges and campaigns like MAC Cosmetic’s #YouOwnIt challenge, giving an insight into the work process of employees like L’Oreal did or collaborating with freshly emerged TikTok influencers like the American Eagle and Addison Rae collab or the Hollister deal with Charlie and Dixie D’Amelio. 

Even new and lesser-known fashion brands such as “House of Sunny“ and “Lucy & Yak“ have been able to grow and connect with new audiences and customers on the app since they automatically land on the explore pages of the right people which then leads to more engagement.

TikTok is also famous for its houses full of fresh faces of influencers and now even model scouts have noticed the abundance of new talent on the app. One of the worldwide biggest modelling agencies IMG has taken to TikTok to scout for models and has already signed creators like Kennedy Jardine and Wisdom Kaye.


Even though TikTok is a social media platform that is mainly used by Gen Z, high fashion brands have taken the opportunity to connect to this audience. For the first time, high fashion brands have decided to show more of their personality, what goes on behind the scenes, and have a sense of humour. For instance the #Guccimodelchallenge in which the actual account of Gucci participated in by reposting the Gucci styles of other creators. On the other hand, there is JW Anderson who noticed the huge popularity wave his patchwork cardigan, worn by Harry Styles,  and therefore decided to post a tutorial of it on the app. What can also be found on TikTok are designers like Olivier Rousteing from Balmain who post videos of their work process and give people an idea of what really goes on behind a brand and inspire thousands of young designers. Even Fashion week was taken by a storm by the app. Last year the first-ever #TikTokFashionMonth was hosted in which runway shows of the biggest brands like Louis Vuitton and Prada were live-streamed. In the year 2020 TikTok served as a fashion outlet for everyone that was open for live streamed fashion shows and digital streetwear. 

After all, there is no secret to success on TikTok. Everyone is just doing what they like and what feels right. Inspiring and creating trends but also having fun at the same time. TikTok could actually be the influence on the fashion industry the younger generations have been waiting for for years and a great method for fashion brands to finally connect to their audience on a deeper level.

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