By JAMES PRYOR
Since the deletion of the popular six-second video app, Vine, the internet community has been migrating towards an unlikely successor: TikTok. Formerly known as Musical.ly, the app was originally used for lip-syncing videos, most of which were mocked by outsiders due to their overdramatic tones and overused special effects. However, after the merge of Musical.ly into TikTok, a shift occurred, and other internet groups began using the app.
TikTok is ahead of Twitter or Tumblr when it comes to its algorithm. Rather than relying on a system of retweeting or reblogging to spread content, each TikTok stream is tailored by the user’s interests to best suit them. Rather than going to find the content they’re looking for, the content is brought to them. This surprisingly accurate algorithm is one of the factors that set off TikTok’s explosion of popularity.
Niche internet communities such as furries and cosplayers came to TikTok to show off their skills in the costume making department, artists used the maximum of 60 seconds to create time lapse videos of their art coming to life, amateur and professional chefs alike posted quick tutorials on how to make anything ranging from small snacks to traditional Chinese dishes and even forgotten Vine stars started to show their faces on the app, reviving their short-lived careers.
However, one of the most prominent trends on TikTok cannot be overlooked. Credited with fueling the “e-boy” and “e-girl” wave, the fashion community on TikTok is unparalleled. Adorning chained, cropped shirts on both men and women, ripped pants and chunky shoes, it’s almost as if emo is back in style, this time reaching an even greater audience, all thanks to TikTok.
Each student at UMW has their own fashion sense. Some students may dress based on comfort and functionality, and others base it all on style. The question raised is: how does the use of TikTok affect that fashion sense?
“Not 100 percent but 90 percent,” said Lu Sheikhnureldin, a sophomore who began using the app when it was on its rise to fame in October of 2018. She referenced the trend of wearing a long sleeved, black and white striped shirt under a short sleeve shirt.
“Before TikTok I wanted to layer my clothes – I’m not saying TikTok invented layering – but it’s definitely popular on there. I also think it’s a cool trend because I’m Muslim and I dress more conservatively sometimes and now it’s ‘cool’ to layer clothes, but when I was a kid people would ask why I was wearing two shirts.”
Junior Bucky Goforth, when asked about his own fashion sense, said, “I like to dress like a clown.” He gestured towards his tropical fruit print shirt and striped pants with a laugh, “I like to wear lots of bright colors and clashing prints. I have gotten some inspiration from TikTok in terms of combinations of like shirts and pants, and different ways to style my hair.”
“I dyed my hair because of a TikTok,” said Rachel Mullins, a sophomore who now has bright cherry-red hair.
“You see a lot of trends start there, unlike how it was with Vine,” Sheikhnureldin said. “TikTok is way more accessible than Vine. I honestly prefer it over the other.”
“With TikTok you can really do more in-depth videos with more plot,” Mullins said, “it’s more interesting. And plus, it’s way easier to go viral on TikTok.”
Even on UMW’s campus, there’s a TikTok star. Noah Mazzatenta, who started using TikTok during the first week of August, quickly shot into popularity and now has 15,800 followers, with his top video having a total of 158,900 likes.
When asked about what he thinks makes a video popular, Mazzatenta said, “I would say the quality of the video, whatever you start the video off with, the cover picture and what happens in the video.” Mazzatenta also mentioned that luck plays into what gets popular on TikTok, due to the way the algorithm works.
Mazzatenta admitted that he thinks his most liked video is so popular because he took his shirt off in it. He believes that TikTok is largely about looks, adding that people like videos based on “how much they can relate to the video and their [the creator’s] looks.”
Like the neon colors and spandex of the 80’s, fashion trends from today will fade over time. Messy buns, oversized shirts, chunky shoes, pocket chains and countless others will slowly become out of style as new waves take over.
With the growth of the internet, fashion trends are spreading faster and to more people within days, hours or even minutes, of videos being posted. TikTok has aided tremendously in increasing the speed at which trends are spread, reaching a further audience that can even be seen at UMW.
Cosima Pellis contributed to reporting for this article.