Does Fashion Work on Tiktok?
2 September 2021
Author: Jasmine Waters
Most of us are no stranger to an internet craze, or funny viral moment. For Tiktok, this summer has produced the unlikely water-cooler moment in the form of Southern sorority girls. The so-called ‘#bamarush’ content has provided an incredible example of how brands can take Tiktok fame and run with it. But is success all by chance, and how effective is Tiktok fashion for brand sales?
What is #bamarush?
Thanks to the University of Alabama, this summer saw Tiktok’s platform littered with short-form OOTD clips, with lots of hopefuls citing exactly where each item of clothing was from before heading to certain events the general public knew nothing about. This sense of ongoing confusion was a driving force for why the trend took off as globally as it did—which translated to piqued interest in its fashion. The entirety of content formed under the hashtage generated $4 million in earned value in a week, which rivals a big brand’s high-end campaigns with celebrity endorsement. For many of the brands included, their partnership in viral success wasn’t down to luck. Many of them have invested years in this new kind of niche community-building, eventually translating into mainstream exposure and further sales.
Why were brands so successful?
Mass confusion meant interest, and interest meant Tiktok’s algorithm picked the trend up to directly deliver to a broader range of its users. A feedback loop is created, built from early videos seeing increased engagement. The same has worked for brands—the more they’ve been mentioned, the more they’ve been seen. It’s possible that the trend was a widely received as it was because of how well it fit into fashion’s existing beauty standards. There’s a lack of diversity, which is something Tiktok has routinely been called out for intentionally promoting. Coupled with the history of sorority exclusion, it’s almost not much of a surprise that the trend took off as well as it did. Brands have capitalised on this, with reports of an 80% increase in sales and a least a 17% increase in new site visitors. The platform allows users to focus on individual items, and brands have learned to understand the language that their target consumer responds to (e.g. targeting sorority girls with a home makeover competition).
These kinds of viral videos may not always mean guaranteed sales, as a large percentage of users primarily view them as a source of entertainment. Even so, brands will be remembered long after trends die out, reinforcing industry ideas about how consumers shop. For fashion brands to win over Gen Z consumers on Tiktok, they need to master the language of short, snappy clips, often driven by memes and a goofy outlook.
Image source: https://www.nylon.com/fashion/fashion-tik-tok-creators