How Are Social Media Algorithms Affecting Fashion ?

By Jordan Ukawoko

Fashion is continuously changing in society and Social Media platforms such as
TikTok have become important trendsetters, especially when it comes to streetwear.
These platforms are changing the way we think of fashion trends instead of just
showing off the most recent styles, instead, we are transforming old styles and
adding our own flavour. Thanks to platforms like TikTok and Instagram, the nostalgia
of the 1980s and 90s has experienced an unexpected revival. These nostalgic parts
have had a big influence on streetwear, especially.

The growth of streetwear is interconnected with its natural inclusivity and ability to
express individual style. We have seen new brands in 2023 such as Cortez, which
started as a small brand but also, who are taking advantage of social media
algorithms, utilising social media’s broad appeal to communicate with a younger,
wider audience. Their marketing techniques have worked well in captivating the area
of nostalgia in young people by referencing past cultural icons and iterating on styles
that already exist. We also have brands like Broken Planet, similar to Cortez, a brand
that utilised the powerful tool of social media algorithms, that caught the attention of
individuals and brought them back to said content, and now Broken Planet has
multiple clothing lines such as beanie hats and hoodies.

Both these brands have a varied audience because social media algorithms are
trained to push content to a wide range of users. For fashion brands, this means a lot
of their content can reach diverse demographic groups, spanning different ages,
regions, and cultural backgrounds. This broad reach is essential for brands aiming to
establish a diverse consumer base.

The algorithms used on social media, especially those on TikTok, are very important
in growing diversity. These platforms typically support original and varied content,
providing a more inclusive fashion representation. This algorithmic preference has
broken down the walls that have generally existed in the fashion industry, allowing a
wide range of styles and body types to be showcased, with the algorithms bringing
people back to said content that aligns with the user’s interest. As we have seen in
2023, algorithms have curated the popularity of many brands.

However, there are still drawbacks to this increase in inclusivity and diversity.
Criticism comes from worries that some brands might use inclusivity as a marketing
device rather than an honest commitment to diversity.

Genuine integration requires replacing mere representation to promote true
inclusivity. Tasks might involve working with a larger range of designers from various
backgrounds and styles and mentoring schemes and workshops for up-and-coming
fashion designers. Streetwear brands should incorporate inclusivity not only into their
marketing techniques but also into their basic business values. As that is what
Streetwear was built on – inclusivity.

As we look towards the future, the intersection of streetwear, social media, and
inclusivity has a lot of potential. However, I have one question: how can the fashion
industry change to reflect diversity in its ethics as well as keep the visual appeal that
people are fond of? This is a call to action for all parties involved in the fashion
industry to go beyond small displays of inclusivity and work towards developing a
more diverse, inclusive, and socially mindful industry. Maybe even learning from how
social media platforms use algorithms as a way to provide users with diverse content
because as of right now, algorithms are changing people’s perspective and
showcasing them to new and diverse styles.

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