Social media has disrupted all aspects of the fashion industry – from how consumers shop, to where they find fashion inspiration, and how they discover new styles and products. It has put the power of determining “what’s hot” and “what’s not” in the hands of consumers, rather than brands or fashion houses. And thanks to apps like Instagram, TikTok, and Reddit, we now have thousands of new subcultures and fashion aesthetics around the globe.
In recent years, countless styles have emerged and taken hold thanks to the internet. On TikTok and Instagram, we’ve seen the resurgence of old aesthetics like Vintage and Y2K, and the birth of entirely new ones like Kidcore and Light Academia. For brands in the fashion, retail, and luxury spaces, tapping into social media is critical for keeping up with consumers.
In a new report, Synthesio collected and analyzed millions of social posts – including text, images, and video – related to 20 of the most popular internet fashion aesthetics. The results show what’s in style, what’s going out of style, and how brands can use social data to spot trends and influencers.
Here’s a preview of what we found:
- Y2K, Cottagecore, and Grunge stand out on TikTok. Among the most-viewed aesthetics on the app is Y2K, amassing 13.1B views. It features fashion trends from the 90s and 2000s, including baggy pants, low rise jeans, baby tees, and velour tracksuits and has come back into style in recent years. Similarly, Cottagecore content – an aesthetic that features idyllic images of a simple, rural lifestyles, flowy fabrics, and floral prints – has gained 12.3 B views and ranks 4th for most-discussed aesthetics across all the platforms we track.
- Some aesthetics are sparking controversy. While internet fashion trends have amassed huge audiences on social media, they’re not all fertile ground for brands to tap into. In fact, various aesthetics have come under fire for being discriminatory. Our analysis found five recurring themes in online conversations: racism, cultural appropriation, sexism, colonialism, and fatphobia. For example, the Clean Girl aesthetic – known for its minimalist outfits, “no makeup” makeup, and emphasis on natural beauty – is highly correlated with mentions of racism and fatphobia and generates the highest percentage of negative sentiment online (32%). One Twitter user said, “I could write an entire think piece about how the Clean Girl aesthetic is rooted in racism, misogyny, and degradation of other women…”
With so many fashion trends and styles emerging on social media, it’s critical for brands to be able to spot signals as they emerge and understand the context surrounding them. As one major retailer and Synthesio client said, “[You can] follow the trends, but then it’s often too late. It is crucial when it comes to product development to be able to seize at the earliest stage of new consumers’ expectations.” As trends are often incubated and spread on social platforms, social intelligence is the key to staying ahead of market shifts and competitors.
To learn more, read Decoding Internet Fashion: 20 Aesthetics for 2023. And to see how you can use Ipsos and Synthesio’s AI-enabled consumer intelligence platform to track the latest trends and consumer behaviors, schedule a demo with our team.