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  • Writer's pictureSavannah Bradley

So, About the TikTok Ban...

Savannah and Maren met over Slack to talk about what it might mean for fashion.

 


Savannah Eden Bradley, Editor-in-Chief: Maren, you beautiful genius, hello. This is our first time doing, like, a back-and-forth Slack convo as reported to HALOSCOPE which is very very fun. I’d love to know how you’re feeling re: the TikTok ban (if it happens or not!) right now.


Maren Beverly, Fashion Writer: Hello 🌸🌸. Ok, so full disclosure: I’ve had TikTok deleted since December-ish — and I haven’t really missed it. Alternatively, I’ve spent a good amount of time on Reels, which feels content-wise less engaging, which was kinda the point for me — to feel like my brain was less dominated by TikTok speak and the fast cycle of trends.


BUT, as a fashion/beauty world follower, I’m really interested to see how brands would transform in a TikTok-free world now — it’s how so many brands have pivoted and made themselves “cooler,” or at least gotten themselves in front of Gen Z eyes. People used to pick up a print magazine for fashion news, but now it happens so quickly on TikTok. It all feels faster and cheaper.


SEB: I’m the same way. I get on TikTok for maybe five minutes once every other day and it’s just for saving recipes, or, like, trying to figure out how to use my Dyson blow dryer. I’ve posted a little here and there but there’s nothing about it that really pulls me. We’ve actually neglected building up HALOSCOPE on TikTok because that environment — fast speak, bad facts — doesn’t necessarily translate to what we’re doing.


Like you said, so many brands have pivoted, now — Burberry, Loewe, Jacquemus — and have gone all-in on TikTok strategy. Reels, to me, has never really pulled me, either, because I’m not spending that much time on my Explore page. But they do well. I imagine that the brands that found success on Reels first and TikTok second (like Mirror Palais) are going to be fine.


MB: Right, the form doesn’t really allow you to “hold something in your hands” for a moment and really learn, observe, or just explore interests, which I feel like lots of people in the editorial world are lacking and craving.


I just wonder where trends will spring up from now, and maybe a reset is needed. Would everyone be wearing red tights and silver flats right now without the platform?


I want more people to buy what they like to buy because they like it, not because a niche micro influencer posted about a product. 🕯️🤌🏻🍸


SEB: Daisy Alioto over at Dirt did a great slide deck about “Artist as Media Company,” where she talked about Web3 optimizing for taste instead of scale, which I think speaks so well to what so many people — especially people our age, who can’t remember a pre-social media Internet — are craving. And for all of TikTok’s flaws (and broadly impersonal quality) it has arguably the best taste algorithm out there, which is why it’s so easy to a) develop a more refined taste palette and b) discover new trends. So I think, like you said, the big question for fashion re: the TikTok ban is how trends are going to move forward, now. Nobody’s on Instagram anymore, really. It’s all migrated to TikTok.


And yes! Nobody would be wearing red tights! We’d all be dressing in H&M basics like it’s 2019 again.



SEB: IIRC you said earlier that “Everyone should be reading more” which, YES! I think that’s why fashion Substacks are so popular right now, especially Emilia Petrarca’s SHOP RAT where she trendspots IRL and patently doesn’t engage with online trends. It’s such a breath of fresh air to see people talking about fashion in real life again.


MB: LOVE Substack for fashion news and commentary, there’s been such a migration towards the platform and the elevation of the writer’s voice.


SEB: People have spoken about TikTok being a balm for personal style and individuality, because you see so many people wearing truly one-of-a-kind fits, but then you remember the days of Man Repeller and the blogging era and Style Rookie and all of that. Weirdo clothing has always existed, it’s just that 2010-2019 was a very ""monoculture"" decade where social media (and online shopping) replaced a lot of what was unique. It’s easy to think that it was always that way, but it really wasn’t. TikTok OOTDs are no different than what you can find in Vogue Street Style archives.


MB: Ugh I miss Man Repeller.


SEB: It crashed and burned so crazily but it had a very precise vision!


MB: I also just question the need for everyone to document their “cool, unique” personal style. I’m kind into the idea of someone being a cool dresser and not feeling the need to share it with an algorithm.


SEB: Yep, exactly. The peril of TikTok is that it suggests that anyone can be an influencer — which on paper seems like a diplomatic idea but is extremely, extremely bad. I say this as someone whose livelihood partially depends on existing online. When you start moving and thinking and posting like a “content creator,” with everything potentially monetized or scrutinized, you take fewer chances and you become less of an authentic human being existing online. It’s corny, but it’s true. And the TikTok infrastructure is basically built for you to acquiesce to that. If you’re posting every single fit on TikTok, is it always honest?


2008 street style from 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘚𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘴𝘵 archives.

SEB: But ultimately, too, I guess the bigger question is if TikTok’s ban will set a dangerous precedent even outside of fashion. It’s very easy to be all “SOCIAL MEDIA BAD!” but it’s a part of our lives. I’m not a jurisprudence expert so I won’t pretend to be one, but when you have the power to cut off one source, you have the power to cut off many more.


I don’t even want TikTok gone! I just want it to be better. And I especially want more people to recognize that good judgment is an affordable luxury. You can decide what trends to follow or to forget, who to listen to, who decides, why you should care, and, most of all, how much you engage with it all. You can log off and engage with IRL fashion anytime you want (and, well, you should). But the important thing is that you can. It’s about having that choice.


MB: Everyone is living in a Truman Show of their own making through TikTok!!


Maybe I just want fashion to care less about TikTok and find more creative, tangible, in-person, living breathing ways to engage us all.


SEB: Agreed agreed agreed.


MB: And don’t get me wrong, TikTok is a great way to make fashion accessible to all, and to hear from voices that haven’t been deified by the industry. Like, it’s cool that everyone can be a critic and show off their style, from anywhere, not just from the offices of Vogue.


I just hope the interest on TikTok can spill out into other areas of engagement.


SEB: 100%. If TikTok goes away, it might spur people to build new things (bring back blogs!) instead of letting individual platforms dictate how they engage, shop, dress, think, feel. Maybe we’ve got to rip the Band-Aid off. 🌀


 

Maren Beverly works in the beauty industry in NYC and loves to spend her free time reading, writing (for HS!), vintage shopping, and seeking out cool cocktail bars in Brooklyn.


Savannah Eden Bradley is a writer, fashion editor, gallerina, Gnostic scholar, reformed It Girl, and future beautiful ghost from the Carolina coast. She is the Editor-in-Chief of the fashion magazine HALOSCOPE. You can stalk her everywhere online @savbrads.


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