As New York City readies for scaled-back versions of its fall fashion week, with social-distancing guidelines undercutting live attendance, TikTok is opening the doors to its own fashion month. This week, the short-video company just kicked off a lineup of virtual runways and influencer-led sessions that will extend through Oct. 8.
“We’ve seen the fashion industry reinvent what luxury fashion means to culture and society through TikTok by bringing fashion into the homes of our community during quarantine,” CeCe Vu, TikTok’s fashion content partnerships lead, said in a statement to WWD.
At various times over the month, the plan is to feature a mix of content. Saint Laurent will offer a runway show, while JW Anderson will reveal its latest collection, and along the way, viewers can tune in for styling sessions hosted by popular creators like Wisdom Kaye and Ariam.
Kaye’s session, posted Sunday, featured tips from the fashion influencer. “I just went through my closet, some of my favorite pieces, and I gave advice on important places to start off, when you’re trying to find like your own personal style,” he said. “One big pointer I gave was, like, getting a pair of black boots, for example. Because no matter what type of look you’re going for or aesthetic, you can honestly never go wrong with a pair of black boots. I also went through one of the key components of finding style and being comfortable, which is to have confidence.”
He’s not sure of the final metrics yet, but figures at least tens of thousands of users tuned in. On his own, Kaye attracts 3.6 million followers on the platform, who flock to his videos to check out his looks and glean fashion tips.
He’s particularly excited about the platform’s lineup this month. “It’s really cool to see like all the brands that are involved,” he said. “I feel like TikTok has really just become so big, so important, especially for people like me doing fashion, creating fashion content. It’s really amazing to see brands like Saint Laurent, all these amazing, high-end fashion houses on TikTok.”
The schedule builds toward “Runway Odyssey,” an event the company describes as “an exclusive, first-of-its-kind virtual fashion runway livestream.” The event will be hosted by TikTok creator Nick Tangorra and feature Puma and Alice + Olivia.
Puma partnered with Black creators and designers for its exclusive collection, including Jufu, Ajani, Dominic Toliver, Taylor Cassidy, Makayla, Kyle Kuzma, and Winnie Harlow. The brand also pledged $10,000 in proceeds from the sales to the Equal Justice Initiative.
Alice + Olivia co-designed its exclusive capsule collection with TikTok, and it plans to feature creators such as Melanie and Miranda Wilking, Janette Ok and Bria Jones as models. Part of its proceeds will go to the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
Over the course of the night, attendees can expect to see other TikTok influencers hitting the virtual runway, and attendees will be the first to shop exclusive capsule collections.
“The whole thing is really designed to take users and creators to another place,” Tangorra told WWD. “You think about this quarantine, and COVID-19 really kind of left all of us staying put. What this is designed to do is take viewers on a journey to a place that really doesn’t even exist, this Odyssey.
“I’ll be hosting in front of a green screen, essentially. And the creators will be wearing the different looks walking on this endless runway. It’s going to be very interesting,” he continued. Tangorra, a singer/songwriter and TikTok creator with 1.2 million followers, is a veteran of New York Fashion Week.
From his perspective, he’s excited about what the tech platform will bring to the fashion events scene.
“This is, I think, going to change the way that fashion shows move forward,” he added, “because you’re going to be able to get that experience of seeing the look, the after parties — you are a VIP. There’s no fighting for the front row, everybody who tunes into this is a VIP.”
A performance-filled, online after party will round things out. Of course, no programming is complete in social media without official hashtags, and TikTok set a few aside:
#TikTokFashionMonth: “Pull out your best looks, get ready to walk the runway, and join us for #TikTokFashionMonth.”
#GetTheLook: “Saw a perfect look that you loved, but not sure where to start? Here’s how to #GetTheLook.”
#Fashion101: “Necessary basics, everyday essentials, keys to color blocking. Welcome to #Fashion101.”
Fashion Month crystallizes TikTok’s vision of becoming a style destination, not just for its swelling ranks of Gen Z users, but for apparel designers, accessories makers and other companies.
“With the launch of our TikTok Fashion Month, this is just another way for our brand partners to leverage the platform’s authentic and community-driven approach to showcase their art, creativity and personalities in a unique and truly TikTok way,” Vu explained.
Over time, the company has been building up some serious fashion cred, adding labels to the network and turning fashion-focused creators into social media stars. This year took things up a few notches, most recently with the addition of Louis Vuitton last week.
The luxury brand made a splash immediately, attracting nearly 50,000 followers in its first week on the platform. Ushering in TikTok’s Fashion Month programming, Vuitton’s premiere videos showcased men’s runway looks and, so far, they have garnered more than 5 million views collectively.
Now other brands are hitting the network, hoping to capture some of that magic.
“TikTok is an amazing, innovative platform for creative expression merging the worlds of fashion, music, art and design…. I love the creativity it provides for brands in terms of sharing our clothes and connecting with our customers,” said Stacey Bendet, chief executive officer and creative director of Alice + Olivia. “Collaborating on a fashion week capsule to support inclusivity and diversity was really fun to work on and I can’t wait to see the content created with our designs.”
For JW Anderson, TikTok is something like spiritual kin. “Its always been important for [us] to work with new technologies and platforms. I think TikTok is challenging norms and innovating the way JW Anderson does,” explained Jonathan Anderson, founder and creative director at JW Anderson, which will be showing its women’s spring 2021 collection.
Now it has a huge platform to reach fashion-conscious consumers. TikTok not only has a particular Gen Z appeal, but it’s parlayed that into roughly 100 million monthly and 50 million daily active users in the U.S. It’s a big audience, representing an even more massive jump of almost 800 percent from January 2018. Worldwide, TikTok figures downloads are in the 2 billion range.
Of course, as TikTok Fashion Month winds down in early October, an uncertain November looms, with President Trump’s deadline for TikTok’s owner, Beijing-based Bytedance, to divest from the app. While it’s in discussion with companies like Microsoft and Oracle on a potential acquisition, the developer has also filed a lawsuit to fight Trump’s executive order.
“As we navigate this time, we’re committed to being a trusted partner to brands as we build TikTok for the long term,” a TikTok spokeswoman told WWD. “We are so proud of the community we’ve built together, and we are excited to keep the TikTok app running just as they know and love it.”
So far, none of the drama seems to have dampened fashion’s enthusiasm for the platform, nor has it dissuaded creators like Tangorra.
“TikTok has made it a point to be incredibly transparent, and in my heart of all hearts, I believe and know that they are doing everything right,” he said. “They have completely kept creators in the loop. They have been so forward with everything going on, and you can’t ask for a better relationship between creators and a platform. TikTok understands and realizes that [the platform] is what it is because of its creator community.”
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