Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

TikTok provides fashion inspiration for the digital age

Where do you get your fashion inspiration from? In the digital age, it’s unlikely that many students still pick up Vogue at their local newsagents or count down the days until London Fashion Week kicks off. Gone are the days of cutting out pictures of fashion models from magazines or picking up trends from friends, quietly mimicking their own style. Why would you bother when you can reach for your nearest device and access an entire world of fashion at the click of a button?

Social media has completely changed the way we think about clothes, accessories, and make-up.  What’s fashionable is now accessible to masses, rather than just a few, and anyone can show off their latest look. Previously, Instagram had been the main source of inspiration when it comes to style. We could see what celebrities, our friends, and complete strangers were wearing day after day, as well as what brands they favour. However, a new app has become the home of trends, especially for teenagers and young adults – the rising video platform TikTok.

These videos are taken in trendy locations in China, such as Shanghai’s fashion district

It has brought about major changes in modern fashion, from reviving the button-down shirts and scrunchies of the 80s to reinventing aspects of goth culture in the form of the popular “e-girl style”. Now, Chinese street style has leapt onto many people’s For You pages, after videos compiled by user @eromei, as well as other TikTok-ers, started going viral.

These videos are taken in trendy locations in China, such as Shanghai’s fashion district, using the app Douyin and many of the subjects are local models or influencers, who dress to impress. On Twitter, as well as TikTok, these videos exposed large numbers of Westerners to Asian fashion for the first time and many were awed by the variety of the outfits and the effort put into each one.

TikTok user Jeffery Dang, who recreated these styles with a friend, explained the popularity of the trend: “the majority of us do not dress like that- but we all wish we did.”

Retro clothing has also seen a rise in popularity

Street style is usually practical in the West, rather than a chance to show off your best clothes as it is in Asia, but many have been inspired by Chinese fashion to step up their game. This isn’t the first time that TikTok trends have changed what young people are wearing.

Only a few months back, the cottagecore tag introduced many users to this old-fashioned style of dress, often inspired by Studio Ghibli movie aesthetics. Comfort is key with knitted cardigans, floaty dresses, and homemade accessories being central to the aesthetic. This went on to span several new trends such as fairycore, goblincore, and even grandmacore. While this style certainly isn’t new, previously known as simply ‘vintage’ or Mori Kei in Japanese fashion circles, it has certainly increased in popularity since it was discovered on TikTok.

Retro clothing has also seen a rise in popularity, with many young people looking to the past as a source of inspiration. Trends are difficult to trace but this boom in 1980s and 1990s fashion can be loosely traced to the release of ‘Stranger Things’ season three, after which many TikTok users started to copy trends from the show. Many young people have been buying tennis skirts, argyle sweaters, and scrunchies from second-hand sites like Depop to model for their social media accounts. Even hair hasn’t escaped changing trends. Last year it was popular to dye your hair contrasting colours, this year it’s turning the front streaks of your hair bleach blonde.

The trends are also encouraging a lot of people to turn to more eco-friendly options

Although any thoughts about participating in this trend myself stopped when my mother informed me that she had the exact same hairstyle when she was my age (sorry, Mum).

While many might laugh at the idea of picking up fashion tips on TikTok, it’s not that ridiculous in practice. Not only does it allow you to see what other young people are wearing around the world, with students in the UK now drawing fashion inspiration from China, but the trends are also encouraging a lot of people to turn to more eco-friendly options. It has brought back second-hand shopping and plenty of DIY trends, with people making their own earrings and embroidering their own jeans. Not to mention, it’s just as good a source of style as anywhere else and completely free- pretty good when you consider that Vogue is £5 an issue.

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