After building a major presence during the peak era of blogging, influencers began taking over front rows at fashion week in 2009. While this sent a shockwave through traditional sectors of the industry, no one could ignore the new guard—their honest, relatable, and unfiltered viewpoint (at the time) ensured their voices were worth a listen.
In no time, fashion influencers ascended from attending shows to scoring campaigns with some of the most remarkable brands in the world—evolving into celebrities in their own right. While the consumer has seen their journey, we have also become accustomed to the regimented, filtered, and static content that sits across their platforms, even as they largely transitioned from blog entries to Instagram posts. That is, until TikTok.
While TikTok has been available internationally since taking over Musical.ly in 2018, the video content sharing platform really made headway in 2020, when the pandemic led many searching for entertainment. It started with dance videos from Gen-Z creators, some of which are now major celebrities, but has fast become a generalist viral platform that cultivates exciting creations across every niche under the sun. With over a billion users, and over 200 million downloads in the U.S. alone, TikTok has created a new, inclusive space for creators to push trends, highlight topics, and breed engaging conversation.
Trading Instagram's #ootd for #personalstyle, #fashionhacks, and #fyp, #tiktokfashion (with 16.2 billion views and counting) is where the new generation of fashion influencers reside. The unfiltered energy is intimate and open, with many videos feeling like one-on-one conversations, making the TikTok fashion community more attainable than the glossy world of Instagram. And thanks to the hyper-personalized nature of the platform's algorithm, there's more room than ever for a fashion aficionado with any background, talent, or interest to become a breakout star. With Zahraa's hijab styling and demure outfit tutorials; Keri Fay's styling hacks, hauls, and impromptu cooking tutorials; and Ms Kristine's look recreations that fit all body types, TikTok fashion influencers use their profiles in educational, versatile ways—a strategy that proves to draw in the masses.
TikTok influencers have achieved a level of community-building and organic growth not seen at this level in a while (if ever), even catching the attention of leading luxury brands. Prada made headlines in February 2020 for inviting TikTok dance star Charli D'Amelio to attend and create content at its runway show. The brand joined the likes of Louis Vuitton and Saint Laurent in live-streaming fashion week shows on TikTok last September, bringing over three million views on the platform alone. With social media relevance and a booming mobile scene, the global stage has pivoted through the phone, and the TikTok fashion community exemplifies the power of this reach.
It isn’t to say that the fashion influencer no longer holds weight on other platforms, but TikTok has created a space for existing fashion influencers to rebrand themselves and new voices to find their audience. Showcasing unique content creation that more easily reaches its intended audiences, the TikTok fashion influencer is able to engage in wider interests and say what's really on their mind.
While many of TikTok's most exciting fashion influencers are a new crop, some OG icons have used the platform to take their status to the next level. One of these is Bryanboy—with over 500,000 followers on Instagram, over a decade in the blogging sphere, and clients such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Prada, his influence is global. While the world may be long familiar with his curated feed of globetrotting luxury fashion content, it isn’t until you get lost in his TikTok profile that you’re able to see his comedy sketches and lighthearted humor. With 1.3 million followers, 36.3 million likes, and an average of 300,000 likes per video, the full scope of Bryanboy's personality comes alive on the platform, giving him freedom for reinvention.
It’s examples like Bryanboy's that show how TikTok allows for more creative fashion content than ever, enhancing the experiences of fans, existing powerhouses, and the third wave of fashion influencers. While only time will tell how the platform's relationship to the fashion industry will evolve as live events and other aspects of normal life return, it's clear that TikTok has made its mark and is here to stay for quite some time.