The app’s anarchic fun is captivating a jaded industry. Here’s why we can’t look away.
As Avril Lavigne’s “What the Hell” blares, Charli D’Amelio and three Prada models stride toward the camera. The tune, from 2011, probably qualifies as a golden oldie for D’Amelio, who was about six when it hit the airwaves. The 15-year-old TikTok star was a front-row guest this season at Prada, posting several videos of herself dancing in front of the show’s floral backdrop. She boasts 33.4 million followers, making her catnip to fashion brands. And like Emma Chamberlain (YouTube), Aimee Song (Instagram), and Tavi Gevinson (blogs; remember blogs?) before her, she’s coasted on that loyal following—all the way to Fashion Week.
The TL;DR if you’re over 30: TikTok morphed out of the lip-synching app Musical.ly and is now a space where users can post brief videos of themselves doing something to music. That “something” could mean dancing, fitness routines, baking, even dentistry (yes, dental influencers are a bona fide thing). The app has already been a boon to the music industry, with songs like Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” and Y2k and bbno$’s “Lalala” blossoming from its soil. It’s made art-world inroads; the septuagenarian video artist Cecelia Condit has found her work recontextualized on the platform as a meme. And now its fashion moment is in full flower.
This past February, TikTok sent three representatives to New York Fashion Week: Cosette Rinab, Taylor Hage, and Tyler Gaca. The trio broadcast scenes from shows like Tory Burch and Rag & Bone to their combined 2.4 million followers. Hage went on to sit front row at Dior’s fall 2020 show in a gray Bar jacket and skirt. Her followers got a peek at the look in a “Get Ready With Me” video she posted of her show prep.