As a fashion editor, it’s my job to be in the loop regarding all things fashion week, which is why I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know TikTok Fashion Month was a thing until a few days ago. What can I say! I use my TikTok for fun, and my For You Page was too crowded with Hamilton fun facts and Taylor Swift conspiracy theories for me to notice #TikTokFashionMonth trending with over 1.4 billion views.
There’s no denying that the fashion landscape has been forever changed over the past year, and Fashion Month may never again be a major in-person event. Personally, this news saddens me—is it so wrong to want to see the shows with my friends just one more time? To meet up with the talented street style photogs outside of Spring Studios and pray they like my outfit?
That said, I know it’s time for change. What was once a series of shows that attendees couldn’t take their eyes off of has been replaced by a front row filled with phones, guests eager to capture content for their Instagram Stories, not themselves. If it’s all going straight to social media anyway, why not forgo the IRL runway show in the first place?
This year, that’s exactly what’s happening. And while the idea might’ve come out of necessity (hundreds of influencers crammed shoulder-to-shoulder alongside a runway doesn’t exactly meet the six-feet-apart social distancing regulations), it’s highly likely that the future of fashion week will forever be digital, and apps like TikTok are seizing the change as yet another opportunity to legitimize and expand.
At the start of September, the president’s least favorite app announced #TikTokFashionMonth, during which all TikTok users are invited to participate in a digital fashion celebration and watch runway shows live-streamed exclusively on TikTok. What was once a coveted ticket is now accessible by anyone with a smartphone—simply download TikTok and boom, you’re sitting front of house like the virtual Anna Wintour you’ve always wanted to be.
If it’s all going straight to social media anyway, why not forgo the IRL show in the first place?
The Fashion Content Partnerships Team at TikTok, led by Cece Vu, has organized two live streams per week from now through October 8. On September 2, Louis Vuitton’s Mens Spring/Summer 2021 runway show kicked things off, and just yesterday, Saint Laurent’s show drew tons of users to the app.
The scheduled events will wrap with the TikTok Runway Oddyssey, which the app is hyping as “an exclusive, first-of-its-kind virtual fashion runway LIVE stream” featuring shoppable capsule collections by PUMA and Alice + Olivia worn by some of TikTok’s most popular creators. $10K in proceeds from all sales of PUMA’s collection will be donated to the Equal Justice Initiative, and a portion of sales from Alice + Olivia’s collection will go to the CFDA.
One has to wonder what brands will do with the funds typically allotted for often-ornate runway shows and presentations. Perhaps they’ll donate a portion to worthy organizations—I recommend any of the anti-racism groups on this list. Or, perhaps they’ll invest in more ethical and fair manufacturing practices, resulting in a safer work atmosphere for the people who make their beautiful clothes, and a cleaner atmosphere for us all. Maybe they’ll finally have the budget to start expanding sizing to be more inclusive; so many brands claim it’s just “not cost-effective” to produce larger sizes, and of course, this is largely an excuse. Whatever designers choose to do with their extra coin, I can only hope they use it as an opportunity to do better.
In the meantime, I’ll be posting mourning what IRL Fashion Month once was and posting fashion week throwbacks on my Instagram—and maybe even on TikTok, too. The entire TikTok Fashion Month calendar can be found on the TikTok blog, and anyone interested in “attending” this digital fashion celebration can participate by using the hashtags #TikTokFashionMonth, #GetTheLook and #Fashion101.