Pre-2020, trends like leather, feathers, neutrals or hot pinks, were relatively easy to follow: the trend funnel moved from runway to rack, with some help from popular culture along the way. This year, Gen Z users on TikTok and Depop jumpstarted a new trend funnel, quickly giving rise to aesthetics like “cottagecore” and “dark academia”, influencing young shoppers’s purchases.
“If one of your favourite [TikTok] creators changes their aesthetic due to a particular trend, a whole style can be born out of it,” says Yazmin How, TikTok’s content lead. “The fashion industry is no longer the only voice directing the new season’s trends. People are tapping into TikTok to see what emerging styles are ‘in’ and what previously popular trends are coming back around.”
TikTok trends manifest into purchases on Depop, where 90 per cent of users are Gen Z. In step with the rise of the cottagecore trend on TikTok, search for the term on Depop rose 900 per cent between March to August, when it reached its peak. Greater connectivity and increased time at home has boosted the amount of these consumer-led movements, and brands whose aesthetics fit the trends are benefiting, like LoveShackFancy, who specialises in the prairie dresses and gingham blouses associated with cottagecore’s countryside aesthetic, as well as fast fashion e-tailers like Missguided, who mimic them at lightning speed. At the same time, the shelf life of trends on the platform has shrunk, says Depop chief executive Maria Raga, making it harder for the rest of the industry to keep up.
“Trends used to last a lot longer and it’s probably because they didn’t broadcast as quickly as they do now,” says Raga. “Before, it was a long journey before they made it mainstream, from creative directors to magazines to stores. Right now with social media, they are so quick to come up.”
The TikTok effect
TikTok fashion trends can be tied to universal experiences, like cottagecore, which encompasses rural life and wholesome pursuits, taking off as people in lockdown began embracing home life, baking and the outdoors. The trend has generated over 4.6 billion views on TikTok and key cottagecore influencers like @aclotheshorse and @hereatthecottage have 603,000 and 354,000 followers, respectively.
Others are influenced by certain video formats, like the dark academia trend, which is centred around student dressing, propelled by viral videos of university libraries and New England private school nostalgia as terms began in September. The trend, which blends gothic and preppy dress styles, creates a sense of community for students studying from home. The term #DarkAcademia has 256 million views and almost 40,000 video creations on TikTok, says How. Searches on Depop were up 82 per cent from August to November and Kayla Marci, retail analyst at Edited, expects the impending Gossip Girl reboot to further the trend.
With Gen Z audiences keen to make clothes at home, crochet was a trend from March on Depop. By July, search was up nearly 500 per cent, peaking around the time of the viral Harry Styles crochet challenge on TikTok. Raga expects the DIY movement and more long-standing, nostalgic trends like Y2K (based on fashion from the early ‘00s) to continue into 2021 among Gen Z, even if the flash-in-the-pan “core” trends wane.
For brands that fit into TikTok aesthetics like cottagecore, the platforms offer a boost of customer acquisition.
“We always go back to vintage and Edwardian Victorian inspiration. We are so happy it aligns with such a large trend in the market,” says Rebecca Hessel Cohen, founder and creative director of LoveShackFancy, a brand stocked at Net-a-Porter and MatchesFashion. The brand’s ruffle mini style has been a hero item for existing and new customers this year, she adds.
The rise of witchcore and cottagecore has also brought new audiences to The Vampire’s Wife, says the brand’s president, Leo Lawson. He says the brand does not consider itself trend-driven, but a recent collaboration with H&M was “wholly embraced by fans of witchcore”, Lawson says, adding that it sold out in one day. “We immediately saw the connection to witchore through the social media posts and comments. We were happy to bring so much joy to a new younger audience at an attainable price point.”
The luxury take
Luxury retailers are not as receptive to these quick trends, but can stay abreast of internet culture to make sure they have their own take. Alongside casualwear and activewear, MatchesFashion buying director Natalie Kingham expects a drive for newness in the new year despite the lockdown measures. “I believe the appetite for newness means that trends will emerge, as they did before, countered with a desire for brilliant timeless pieces that a woman will keep and wear for years.”
The buying team at luxury retailer Ssense is clued into Instagram and other social media platforms, says womenswear buying director Brigitte Chartrand, but they rely on their instincts and try to keep an authentic approach to what resonates with the brand.
“Our buying approach hasn’t changed over the last year, it continues to balance our strong intuition with our data-focused mindset,” Chartrand says. “While we don’t always react to trends, we’re very aware that high-profile appearances can be a powerful way to bring awareness to new brands.” For example, emerging brand Nensi Dojaka saw a spike in sales after Bella Hadid wore the brand at an awards show, she says.
As TikTok trends fuel Depop sales and get picked up by fast fashion, more traditional retailers can curate what they’ve already got in their assortments to try to tell a trend story in their communications, says Marci at Edited. “We’ve seen trends like cottagecore mature a bit — now they’re more accessible to different age demographics beyond the Gen Z audience.”
A number of Depop sellers, including crochet and patchwork seller Camilla Lawson, told Vogue Business that within these online fashion trends, the emphasis is on the micro-communities as opposed to taking them mass. While the trends themselves may be fleeting, the handmade and consumer-grown nature of popular fashion will stick around.
“Although I can see the positive side of retailers taking on these trends in terms of driving up the popularity and demand for these kinds of products, it would be hard for them to keep up in terms of authenticity,” she says.
Credit: Vogue Business – Click here to view the article
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