The biggest TikTok fashion moments of 2021



Although 2021 saw the return of IRL catwalks, street style and outside out ‘dress, some of fashion’s most interesting moments have taken place on our phone screens – on TikTok, in particular. As it overtakes Instagram as the app of choice, it’s no wonder the fashion world is embracing TikTok with open arms.

Of course, TikTok fashion is much more than Sailor Moon skirts and high waisted pants from the app’s native e-girls and e-boys. For concrete proof, look no further than the Fashion Awards sponsored by TikTok last month at the Royal Albert Hall – the event was broadcast live on the app, with stars like Elsa Majimbo as hosts of the Red carpet. Last February, the platform announced a partnership with the British Fashion Council on its NEWGEN initiative; providing emerging designers with grants, mentoring and presentation opportunities, as well as presentation space during London Fashion Week.

And love goes both ways, with designers increasingly turning to TikTok for inspiration. For Celine’s SS21 menswear collection, Hedi Slimane paid homage to the myriad of subcultures on the platform, with silver chain necklaces, dangling earrings, beanies and sweater combos. . Elsewhere, Ludovic de Saint Sernin showcased his two-part e-Boy collection for SS21 and AW21, complete with rainbow Swarovski crop tops and crisscross headbands. Then, of course, there was the JW Anderson patchwork cardigan that became a TikTok sensation in its own right, originally worn by Harry Styles and crocheted at home by legions of TikTokers. In response, the designer released the original pattern so fans can recreate the piece more accurately.

While its impact is clearly being felt in the industry, it’s on TikTok itself that the app’s ability to change the fashion landscape is truly evident. Whether designers are “saving” on finds from their charity store or stylists sharing outfit ideas, TikTok has spawned fashion trends and unleashed whole cultural waves.

Here, we unbox some of this year’s biggest TikTok fashion moments, from creative ingenuity to confusing.

Savings flipping

Savings can be a bit of a minefield. You might be dreaming of finding a well-fitted vintage Levis or the perfect second-hand leather jacket, but these days most charity shops are filled with Primark from last season. You could spend the whole day hanging around the stores, only to come back with nothing but sore feet. This is where the thrift store comes in. The practice – where you take second-hand clothes and personalize them – isn’t new, but TikTok has brought it back to the center of attention this year, with the hashtag racking up 1.9 billion views. For many, it started out as a foreclosure hobby, but has evolved into selling second-hand clothes for profit on resale sites like Depop.

Similar to upcycling, it’s celebrated by some as a victory for sustainability and saving money, but others have criticized the tendency to gentrify second-hand shopping and perpetuate fatphobia. While questions have been raised about the ethics of well-off shoppers profiting from the clothes they have purchased at discounted prices – often by turning large-sized items into smaller ones – the movement has also encouraged people to show creativity, inspire others and learn new skills. And when £ 140million of used but wearable clothing goes to landfill every year in the UK, is any trend that encourages us to extend the life of old clothes certainly a good thing?

Shein carries

While we are talking about ethical fashion, this trend raises serious questions about our relationship to mass consumption. The trend of low prices and high engagement has seen the fast fashion giant ramp up its TikTok influencer program, generating 18.4 billion views under #shein and 3.9 billion under #sheinfashion. This year, the company also launched its Strange Young Talent Award, judged by a jury made up of Christian Siriano, Law Roach and Khloe Kardashian. While this is quite strange as it is, it seems even more shocking considering how many times the brand has been called out for copying the work of young designers. Huge purchases from TikTok seem to conflict with Gen Z’s supposed environmental and ethical conscience, but Shein’s dupes when it comes to on-trend clothing – whether the original is fast fashion or the designer – are apparently too difficult to handle. resist for some.

Mom said it was ok

Do you have a little too much in flower crowns in 2012 because of Lana Del Rey? Maybe you started wearing small sunglasses because they looked good on Bella Hadid. Or do a smoky eye and fishnet your go-tos after watching Skins. While this trend isn’t exclusive to TikTok fashion, if you’re looking for an excuse to justify your questionable or repetitive outfit choices, this might be it. Users describe their aesthetic and credit their style icons, while a snippet of Lukas Graham’s 2014 song “Mama Said” plays – the sound has been used over a million times. One video, for example, shows fashionable TikToker @carolinafreixa wearing an oversized blazer with denim shorts while writing onscreen: “You can’t wear an oversized blazer with every outfit!” Spot the lyrics and a montage of Hailey Bieber wearing the look herself. If she can get away with it, so can you.

Getting ready for fashion school in New York

Watch ‘that girl’ get ready in her New York City apartment as Effy Stonem pulls a tongue-in-cheek joke: “That termite over there got it, but you’re not going to get it, get it?” rooms. Think about the opening scene of The devil wears Prada: she puts on her first layer, then the second, then the third, then the fourth, then the – oh wait, she doesn’t stop. Is this satire? While it started off as a sincere trend, brace yourself with me, it didn’t take long for it to turn into a parody. The trend sees users mocking fashion students by layering all of their clothes at once or accessorizing them with household items. A comment on a popular video reads: “Forgot to layer your shoes! ” It is so CSM, my darling.


You’ve heard of cottagecore, but this year we adopted… goblincore? Well, it’s time to get your hands dirty. Start collecting snails. Put on your delicate white linen dresses and wallow in the mud. Launched by LGBTQ + TikTokers, goblincore is rooted in nature, with mushrooms, toads and moss taking center stage. The clothes are brown or khaki green with mushroom and flower prints and embroidery. If cottagecore is all about the bucolic meadows and rolling hills, then goblincore celebrates nature’s less-loved elements. Followers of the movement collect objects such as animal skulls, mushrooms and fake leaves; aesthetically inspired by David Bowie in Labyrinth and the dusk saga. It’s kind of like the gothic alternative to cottagecore, proven by the fact that one of the more popular #goblincore videos is a tutorial on ‘how to turn your black clothes into goblincore vibes’. Turns out brown is the new black.

Dark university

Cardigans, classic literature and an affection for old university buildings. While Dark Academia was born from the 1992 novel by Tumblr and Donna Tartt The secret story, the trend has seen a revival on TikTok. The aesthetic first took hold on the app in 2020, but this year it has gone stratospheric, with the hashtag reaching 1.6 billion views. A gloomy academic spends his days reading heavy novels in large libraries, lighting conical candles and waltzing cranky in art galleries while wrapped in an oversized coat. The trend is also responsible for the unexpected revival of the tennis skirt (hello, old friend). This time around, wear yours with a white shirt, dark gray waistcoat, black tights, classic loafers and an oversized blazer. The secret story clicks would approve.

Cheugy Mode

2021: the year when the word “cheugy” became common. Gladiator sandals? Cheugy. That double G Gucci belt? Cheugy. Skinny jeans? CHEUGY AF, at least according to TikTok. In the latest chapter of the Millennial-Z feud, the younger cohort started calling everything millennials wear that might be considered “off-trend.” Most videos are preceded by a warning “this is only my opinion” before absolutely roasting everything. Wear a denim jacket at your own risk. Or, you know, just wait until they’re in fashion again. TIC Tac is speed up the 20-year rule, after all.

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