Keeping up with modern trends means donning head-to-toe fabulous garish early 2000s fashion – rhinestones, hot pink and all – only to be told the following week that minimalism is the new elite style. . “Fashions fade, style is forever,” Yves Saint Laurent once proclaimed, but in the age of TikTok and TikTok microtrends, the idea of personal style is getting muddled.
The term “cheugy” – pronounced CHOO-gee – was coined by critical Gen-Z TikTok users to describe overused trends. Cheugy revolves around past pinnacles of fashion that are now considered unstylish, ranging from skinny jeans to the over-filtered Instagram aesthetic of the mid-2010s. If what fashion legend Saint Laurent said is true and that style is forever, it’s hard to understand why people don’t care what they love and instead are forced to buy fast fashion from companies like Aliexpress or SHEIN.
According to a disturbing statistic, “We throw away 92 million tons of clothing-related waste every year.” Due to the constant desire to consume new trends, people buy cheap and accessible clothes from fast fashion brands. These cheap styles harm the environment and are made possible through unethical labor practices, such as paying workers barely enough to live on. As TikTok weaves a web of microtrends, it’s important to reflect on the problematic nature of its most famous trends.
1. Sunny’s HouseHockney Dress”
Known for its bold green spiral pattern and bodycon silhouette, it’s understandable why the ‘Hockney dress’ rose to fame on TikTok in the summer of 2020 after Kendall Jenner was spotted wearing it.
The dress was inspired by prolific modern artist David Hockney, adding another level of appeal to the already delightful garment, which resembles a Granny Smith apple with its vibrant hue. But, as audiences learned from the witch in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” not all apples are created equal – some are tainted with something sinister, replicating only that sweet taste.
With a price tag of just over $130, it’s no surprise that companies like SHEIN have quickly jumped on the bandwagon to make dupes of the London brand’s clothing at affordable prices, while paying almost nothing. nothing to their workers. As the sundress leaked into TikTok, the original dress became hard to find and was continually out of stock. Vogue gave her cult status in the fashion world.
The advice “the higher you go, the harder you fall” doesn’t discriminate between trends, and that was the case with the Hockney dress. When it got too popular – #houseofsunny currently has 48 million views on TikTok – influencers called the garment cheugy and over the top, actively canceling it. TikToker @vpettorelli took to social media to speak out against the problematic nature of microtrends after saving money to buy the authentic dress.
“As we all know, she [referring to the dress] was more famous last year because of Kendall Jenner. Now, on TikTok, it’s popular to roast that dress to shreds because it’s no longer considered cool. After proudly proclaiming that she will continue to wear the dress because she loves it, viewers are wondering if the TikTok microtrend makers have become the “Mean Girls” of the modern era, using the clothes as venom to make people feel old fashioned.
2. Coconut Girl
Hibiscus print, a skimpy silhouette, and bright colors reminiscent of early 2000s Florida vacations — what’s not to love about the “Coconut Girl” aesthetic? Channeling her inner Paris Hilton or her favorite character “H20: Just Add Water”, the beachy style took TikTok by storm in the summer of 2021. But, in the fall, the trend quickly dissolved into the abyss. , making the production of fast fashion clothing that supports it unnecessary.
Coconut Girl’s aesthetic is quite similar to the 2019 VSCO girl trend, which also focused on a bright, casual, and beachy color feel. But, since the VSCO girl style had long been deemed cheugy, people didn’t think to recycle their scrunchies or beach sandals. Instead, they consumed even more fast fashion.
When trends come and go in the blink of an eye, one begins to wonder how sustainable this pattern of love and then instant elimination is in the long run. According to a recent statistic, “One in three young women in Britain consider clothes worn twice to be old.”
While it is the responsibility of consumers to buy more sustainably – savings are a fabulous and affordable option – it is also imperative that lawmakers and those in power use their influence to change harmful consumer practices. fast fashion industry. This way, when people go coconut on trends like the Coconut Girl aesthetic, it will last for over two months.
3. Mass-produced hook
Crochet has made a comeback in 2021 fashion, and with its nostalgic patterns and granny-chic texture, it’s undeniably adorable: Harry Styles was seen wearing a primary-colour patchwork crochet cardigan, and British Olympic diver Tom Daley was spotted crocheting on the sidelines in the women’s springboard final at the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
The main appeal of crocheted garments lies in their artful domesticity, being something a grandmother could be imagined lovingly creating for her grandson by the fireside. The hook defines slow fashion. But, as crochet caught on, fast fashion felt the need to capitalize on the trend. The twisted irony is that crochet can’t be done by a machine, which means brands like H&M or Pretty Little Thing have workers painstakingly create the pieces by hand, being paid pennies.
Ethically, workers are unlikely to be properly compensated for the clothes they make, given that fast fashion companies typically charge less than $20 for crocheted clothes that take hours to make.
As an alternative, one can support ethical crochet businesses, like the talented @oakcitycrochet on TikTok, who discusses the issues of fast fashion crochet on her page. Or there’s @charliseyscrochetcloset, which sells adorable crochet dolls to raise money for a service dog.
Defined by A-line dresses, kitschy patterns, oversized collars, and everything that maniac pixie dreams are made of, “Twee” is a revival of the 2010s style that took TikTok by storm. Videos, often serenaded by music from twee queen Zoey Deschanel, discuss TikToker’s love or hate for the quirky, “nerdy” microtrend. Behind the facade of Wes Anderson’s character, there’s a more distinctive issue with the trend cycle. Before the twee took off, people took to TikTok to call the trend ugly, especially since a few months prior, the mid-2010s fashion was constantly mocked for its poor taste.
The belief that the trend cycle has a 20-year turnover rate is a thing of the past, as trends from just a few years ago are coming back, which means people are constantly changing their wardrobes to adapt. to what is fashionable and do not wear clothes. for years as they once did. Twee has, as ID reports, a history of catering to thin, cisgender white women and lacks the inclusivity that should be a given in 2022. With the twee revival, fashion has the ability to be inclusive of everyone, allowing people to embrace their inner “geek”.
5. Patchwork jeans
With their rough edges, different shades of blue denim and recycled feel, patchwork jeans have been seen on TikTok and on the catwalks in 2021 and 2022. Brands like SHEIN have joined in on the trend, with clothes looking deceptively made from old remnants of clothing, when in fact they are mass-produced and made uniform in appearance. On average, about 1,800 gallons of water are needed to make a single pair of jeans.
Fast fashion brands are embracing this short-lived trend and using a reclaimed fabric aesthetic to sell it, creating garments that will soon be discarded despite the excessive amount of water needed to produce them. Regardless of the problematic nature of unethical clothing, patchwork jeans have a hopeful possibility of turning in a more sustainable direction, as slow fashion brand Fanfare did, by repurposing waste. British textiles from landfills to create one-of-a-kind pieces that are ethically produced and great for the planet.
As adults and children toil in cramped factories in Bangladesh or Vietnam, crocheting an item of clothing that will quickly be thrown away or sewing a brightly-covered top that will quickly be classified as old-fashioned, people are taking SHEIN shopping sprees, making fashion videos on TikTok, or change their aesthetic week by week.
One can only hope, as the reality of fast fashion begins to circulate, that society can take the metaphorical sewing needle and create the finest ethical tapestry of carefully produced fashion.