As the fashion industry becomes increasingly digital, it seems as though the prime way to discover the latest style craze is to scroll through your “FYP” (For You Page) rather than watching the latest runway shows. The pandemic-induced boom of the social media platform TikTok has produced catchy dances, buzzy fashion trends, and stars who are rapidly becoming household names in mainstream culture. Though many luxury brands have, at times, struggled to adapt to the new Gen Z dominated platform, there is an emerging set of tastemakers and trendsetters who seem to have taken their place. With flashy trends such as argyle sweaters, e-girl aesthetics, and knitwear, the platform is evolving into the leading space for fashion proliferation and trend forecasting.
Despite initially struggling to keep up with independent creators, luxury brands have finally begun to understand the app’s complicated algorithm. For Celine’s Spring/Summer 2021 collection, the brand enlisted the help of TikTok heartthrobs Chase Hudson, Curtis Roach, and Noen Eubanks — who perfectly fit within the mold of Hedi Slimane’s archetype — to show off the brand’s newest collection on the platform. It seems that luxury brands have realized that their reach is reliant on creators wearing their designs on the app, rather than the usual brand-curated advertising that has dominated other platforms. Similarly, for Dior Men Fall/Winter 2021, Creative Director Kim Jones called on TikTok star Jordan Huxhold, among others, to virtually attend the show and shoot content in Dior Men looks. The app has rapidly become the go-to spot for not only style advice and trends, but also for brands to promote their collections in an increasingly virtual world.
In order to better understand the stylistic tendencies and fashion-fueled boom within the app, we sat down with L.A.- based stylist Tabitha Sanchez. A California native, Sanchez recently moved back to the sunny city after completing her education in New York City. Sanchez’s foray into TikTok styling began while scrolling, as many of us did, during the never-ending boredom that were the early days of quarantine. Enthralled by the platform’s ease of function and maneuverability, Sanchez reached out to many of the app’s biggest stars and began fostering working relationships with them while doing so (Chase Hudson, Sienna Mae Gomez, Maddy Crum, and countless others.) Below, CR chats with the emerging stylist about her thoughts on the future of the industry, the importance of sustainability, and how TikTok continues to evolve.
CR: Before you started working with social media stars, you had experience assisting on editorial shoots. What differences can you point out between editorial and celebrity styling and where do you think the future is in the industry?
TS: Previously, I had just been assisting. The social media kids are my first real clients. I had been assisting Alex White [and] in my book, she’s a low key fashion legend. And I had been assisting her and a handful of other stylists for a couple of years and then COVID hit and all of my work got cancelled. So I picked up TikTok, like everyone else. [Styling] was basically my quarantine hobby, kind of how everyone picked up little hobbies, some people crocheted, knitted. I started sending swimsuits to some of the TikTok girls [and] I honestly didn’t think that it was going to lead into anything. I mean, I hoped, but I really didn’t think it would.
I don’t know how long this social media styling bubble will last. [Although] it’s not a bubble anymore. There is a mainstream crossover with the TikTok stars and it’s not how it was just six months ago. [Six months ago] it was just hanging out with friends and playing dress up. And now it’s turned into a little bit more. It’s the most random app ever, but that’s what makes it amazing. I love it and I’m so happy to see all of the people I work with doing incredible things. Chase [Hudson aka Lil Huddy,] who I work with [had] Nicola Formichetti style his music video and Joseph Kahn direct it. I’m so happy for him, it’s such a good song and such a good video.
CR: Could you take us behind the scenes of working with a TikTok star: how is this collaborative process different from “normal” non-social media centered styling?
TS: I don’t know that it’s any different than normal styling because I only have done editorial work [and] never celebrity styling or personal styling. For example, one of my clients is Sienna Mae Gomez and she’s the new face of Maybelline. But she’s also a TikTok girl. She started the app in August and has 14 million followers in less than five months, and she just turned 17. And so with her, she and I text a lot, we FaceTime a lot, and I do a lot of brand outreach to her. So, I just connected her with Heavy Manners, Mirror Palais, and Orseund Iris. I connect her with brands and designers that she might not necessarily know of or have a connection with and then I just text her their look book and have her send me screenshots of what she wants. It’s a lot easier to know exactly what she wants rather than [picking] out a dress and then a brand gifts it to her and she hates it, and then we have it and we can’t send it back. It’s just better if she knows exactly what’s coming in and we go from there.
CR: Although you offer your clients new brands for them to try out, a lot of them already have an established aesthetic on the platform. How do you work within these constraints while also offering your own perspective as a stylist?
TS: I am not a huge fan of fast fashion and if someone is working really closely with a fast fashion brand, I will thrift them alternatives. There’s a lot of clothes in the world already, and secondhand shopping and vintage are not only fun but good to do [for the environment]. So if somebody has a very specific aesthetic that they identify with, that they love, I just research other small brands that fit into that same world, but while also pushing them out of their comfort zone, but not in a way that is uncomfortable. My client, Maddy Crum dresses in a very specific way, a very specific aesthetic. And I introduced her to Dilara Findikoglu and we just shot three runway looks on her for social content. [Maddy] didn’t know the brand but it fit the aesthetic and exactly what she wants to do and how she wants to present herself. And it’s a great way to introduce new designers to their followers. There’s a mindset that all of these TikTok star’s followers are 12 year olds, but the reality is there are a lot of 18 to 24 year olds [who] have a little bit more money to spend. And that’s how all of these style trends just pop out of nowhere.
CR: I’ve seen that you often pull a lot of vintage pieces for your clients in an effort to reduce overconsumption – where are your go-to places for vintage fashion?
TS: My go-to for vintage is Lidow Archive. It’s not somewhere you can buy from but it’s this really amazing vintage archive that had previously been based in New York but she recently relocated to LA. And I pull from her for everything, there’s not a shoot or project where I don’t have Lidow Archive on the rack. She has an amazing archive [and] probably the largest collection of Marc Jacobs runway shoes. And she has so many vintage items but also has recently started buying from small designers. I also go to Vintage Vortex in LA. It’s the most insane vintage store. It’s so inexpensive, but also when you go in, there’s [about] ten different vendors curated in an amazing way.
CR: It has become more apparent that TikTok’s platform and algorithm make it the perfect place for trends to proliferate – what is it the about the platform that allows social media stars to translate their style to such a large audience?
TS: The TikTok algorithm is unlike any other social media platform. Anyone can go viral. One of my videos just got two million views, and it definitely shouldn’t have. And so because of that, so many different people are popping up. Seeing people in motion and in videos translates a little bit better than an Instagram photo in terms of style. Seeing someone, whether it be dancing, moving in an outfit, or just doing an outfit haul, it translates a lot better. When I’m looking at something [on TikTok] I’m like, “Oh, this girl is wearing a really cool hat.” And it makes me want to buy it, but that doesn’t really happen on Instagram. I just bought all of these mesh, stringy tops [because] I saw someone layering them over some of their clothes and then in the comments they just linked where they bought it.
CR: When TikTok first rose to prominence, a lot of luxury brands struggled to reach the mostly Gen Z audience on the platform. Do you see this phenomena changing, and if so, how?
TS: TikTok is a very young platform, and if you don’t get it, you don’t understand it. It’s very blatant that you’re trying to do something that maybe you just don’t understand. But I have been working a lot with luxury brands. I remotely styled one of my clients for the Dior show and I shot some looks for the Louis Vuitton show, and then Prada over the weekend. Wisdom Kaye, he’s 19, and he has been the one to convince these luxury brands that TikTok is an app worth paying attention to. And so I think that [luxury brands] are catching on a little bit. It’s maybe like a little bit too late, but they are catching on.
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createdAt:Thu, 21 Jan 2021 21:44:57 +0000
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