Right now, TikTok is the most influential and impactful social media vessel for a small business. We reaped the benefits of having a large following and growing our customer base, thus pulling through the dark times of the pandemic. However with pros, comes cons– and TikTok is not exempt.
Awhile ago, we were called “avant-basic” in a comment. If you are unfamiliar with the term, it was a way to describe maximalism and overall kitschiness, heavily influenced by the internet, and commonly associated with Lisa Says Gah & House of Sunny. “Avant-basic” has since joined the ranks of other trends– or as TikTok would say, micro-trends– such as E-Girls, Fairycore, Cottagecore, and Dark Academia. Micro-trends are seen as examples of rapid & unsustainable consumption, to wear once and throw it away– the exact antithesis of our store ethos. While being called a label with a negative connotation stings, it is a result of the perils & powers of TikTok.
How are we as a business making strides to be sustainable, but also profitable? Of course, the point of a business is to make money by appealing to a wide variety of consumers. As a small business with a focus on sustainable & indie brands, we must find a balance. We carry basics such as blue jeans and other neutral outfit building blocks. However we also carry bold, bright, accented pieces. There is a widely held misconception that if something is trendy or a statement, it is not practical. Working at a store that has always leaned on color and pattern, I can see that this is far from the truth. Our customers are still wearing the abstract patterned Paloma Wool sweaters we sold to them years ago. I’ve seen House of Sunny Hockney dresses styled a million different ways for all seasons. What many on TikTok claim as micro-trends, prove themselves to be practical pieces in our customer’s wardrobes– an extension of their personal style.
@elliejolly_ don’t wait for other people to dress the way you want to dress <3 #twee #sustainablefashion #zooeydeschanel #microtrends #cheugy ♬ Why Do You Let Me Stay Here? - She & Him
The TikTok community’s tendency to bandwagon on a topic can be both helpful and harmful. After the lockdown, we were able to succeed as a small business because of their support. On the other hand, the styles we have been selling for years got associated with a trend. On TikTok, in a month, things can go from cool to “cheugy”, basic, or overrated. Or worse, wrongly associated with fast fashion. TikTok has latched on to the “minimalism look,” not understanding that sustainability doesn’t have an overarching aesthetic, look, or a price point. True sustainability is buying something you love and feel good in, and will wear– regardless if it’s animal printed jeans or a thrifted cashmere sweater.