TikTok Microtrend Mania - Have We All Just Had Enough?

Alice Hartwell

Soft girl, clean girl, it girl, healthy girl and now, the somewhat foreboding, rat girl. The rise and rule of TikTok microtrends and ever-changing aesthetics on the surface feel fun and full of whimsy. At its core, however, many have criticised this trend wave of fuelling overconsumption and thriving on our communal insecurities. Have we had our fill of never feeling quite enough?

The allure of trends and micro trends go hand in hand with the consumerism boom of the modern age. Gen Z’s relationship with fast fashion, promoted by content-sharing platforms like TikTok, is merely the result of this. Having been raised in a culture of buy, buy, buy, can we really blame them? While trends have always existed, they are currently more accessible than ever. You no longer have to buy magazines and search for what’s en-vogue, this information is now (quite literally) at our fingertips within seconds.

TikTok trends, often fashion and aesthetic-related, vanish as quickly as they appear. This summer we’ve seen the rise of “vanilla girl”, “mermaidcore” and “VSCO girl” to name a few. All are replaced typically weeks later with the newest “it” look, which in reality is very similar to their predecessors – see the recent blueberry nails discourse. What doesn’t disappear quite so instantaneously, are the many Shein hauls now left to sit forgotten at the bottom of a wardrobe or on a mounting landfill site. 

It can make you feel like a bit of a killjoy to yuck the yum of trend culture. Superficially it’s enjoyable, a path to constant reinvention and fashion creativity. Sadly, it’s hard to feel the same thrill when realising the cost to our environment. Fast fashion is responsible for 10% of the world’s carbon emissions, which if it continues at the current trajectory, is predicted to jump to 26% by 2050. Fashion trends undeniably contribute to these figures. 

Promoting constantly changing aesthetics is no good for our collective self-esteem either. Subconsciously it can make us feel like what we are is never good enough, or that there is always another state to reach, something better we can be. These subliminal feelings are exactly what causes us to jump on new trends with vigour, ordering haul after haul. Our own personal tastes, styles and needs take a backseat. Being satisfied with where you’re at seems to have no place in the TikTok trend-sphere. 

So what’s the way forward? Well, in part, it’s a rejection of trend culture altogether, or at least shopping trends sustainably. This might feel like a contradiction, but you can still enjoy fashion movements consciously, as long as you take responsibility to make them timeless. My new approach with trends is to cherry-pick, if it doesn’t already align with my inherent personal style and I can’t see myself wearing it in 5 years’ time, I’ll let it pass me by.

Guide your own fashion compass and identify unique tastes that exist beyond the constantly changing parameters of microtrends. This is not only more eco and budget-friendly, but it also means your self-worth feels less defined by the swift pendulum swings of fashion TikTok and the like.

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