Tiktok pushes unsustainable fashion trends

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TikTok’s obsession with novelty and viral content are the perfect catalysts for fashion over-consumption. Fast fashion brands, producing up to 52 micro seasons per year, provide the very harmful fuel for a counter-sustainable shopping culture.

Words by Kathya García

TikTok is a vastly popular social media platform that currently boasts one billion active users in 154 countries. The platform’s 15-second-long videos are easily digestible, resulting in around 1 billion videos being watched daily. This fast-paced and enormous media consumption goes hand in hand with the accelerated pace of ultra-fast fashion trends, which can change on a weekly basis. By the time this article is released, a new wave of fashion trends will dominate, so what are the kinds of videos that push fast fashion?

The Haul Trend

The infamous clothing hauls are among the most popular types of videos on TikTok. Shein is one of the brands that are frequently cited on these videos, but other brands like ASOS are also commonly featured. They usually start with content creators unpacking countless plastic bags filled with garments. Often, the video clips will show the outfits on the creator, changing in the blink of an eye. Sometimes the creator will rate the clothes, calling them a “hit” or a “miss”, and share details on the pricing or on how to get discount codes.

As a counter response, anti-haul videos are also growing in popularity. In these videos, content creators share their insights as to why they decided on not purchasing products or clothes that were popular on TikTok. Some of these creators argue that, while shopping is fun or they even feel pressured to get in with the trend, they decided to make the conscientious decision against purchasing. Their arguments against buying-in range from how frequently they would expect to use the product, paying attention to the materials, or even involve personal goals that don’t align with the purchasing decision.

Luxury Dupes

Another trend that TikTok has popularised are luxury dupes. These are more affordable, similar or identical products that work “just as well” for a fraction of the price. Videos about dupe finds aim to show users how to find the goods on e-commerce platforms like Aliexpress, Amazon or DHgate, among countless others. Although some of these products may be “just as good” or “inspired” by the original design, a lot of the time TikTok displays actual counterfeits of luxury goods. For under $50 USD, users can purchase replicas of luxury brands, complete with authentic-looking boxes and dust bags.

It’s important to point out that counterfeit goods are not only illegal, but they are also unethical in many ways. Not only do the counterfeits infringe on copyright law, but because they are unregulated and lack transparency, counterfeits have been linked to criminal organisations, toxic ingredients, slavery, and even terrorism. Despite the harsh economic blow, the scale of the promotion is such that luxury brands may not take legal action against individuals or even TikTok. Yet, who wants to support an even worse industry than ultra-fast fashion? Perhaps compromise their health in the process too.

A trend that needs to be stopped

The short and fast paced videos on TikTok foment the release of micro trends from fast fashion. With a market penetration of over 20% of the world’s internet users, TikTok has turned into the most influential social media platform for a young demographic. It's evident that in some cases, users make purchases for the sole purpose of the video–for attention, for virality, for novelty. The fast-paced nature of the videos is supporting trends that are far from sustainable, turning content generation into a lifestyle that turns discardable. The reality that exists in social media has repercussions in real life, so doesn’t the world deserve conscious shopping?

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