Gen Z’s obsession with the TikTok aesthetic


Socrates probably would have cringed at our modern use of the term (or at least the phrase “it’s so … aesthetic”), but there’s no denying that Gen Z loves him. Supposedly, there is one for each person to proudly display as a descriptor with a horoscope, Enneagram type, and favorite music artist as ID badges.It has the same kind of appeal as little quizzes. personality (like those who tell you what Kardashian sister you are).

Terms newly coined by Gen Z for various aesthetics have crept into the fashion vernacular. The internet generation has turned to social media to find inspiration and solidarity within online subcultures, exploring alternative styles and sharing outfit photos among a fashion-hungry digital audience that seeks always consuming the next brilliant novelty. We might wonder why Gen Zers are so obsessed with choosing an aesthetic, but given the communities that have formed around each, the answer to “why” seems pretty clear. But how did it all start?

Aesthetics of the year 2000

Taliaxbro on YouTube

Much of the recent increase in the desire to choose and identify with a singular aesthetic has come from social media. There is a niche sector of TikTok that has started to define these aesthetics, even ones that would have fallen into oblivion after hitting a popularity ceiling in a small town or state before the viral culture takeover. Concrete example ? The VSCO girl.

A discussion arose around the origin of the VSCO girl’s aesthetic after some claimed it stemmed from a more popular style aesthetic locally in Oregon. The VSCO girl is an easy going suburban beach girl who (and that’s very important) has items from brands like Hydroflask, Glossier, Mario Badescue, Fjallraven, Glossier and Pura Vida. Claiming the VSCO girl’s aesthetic meant unspoken guidelines on where to buy, what brand of lip balm to buy, and how to post on social media (mostly casual beach photos with vintage filters on the VSCO app).

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The aesthetic would likely have remained local in Oregon without the reach of social media, reaching the rest of the West Coast at most, but YouTube quickly exploded with tutorials and major news outlets began using the term VSCO. girl to pitch their pieces of listel. It became a form of identity beyond clothes, although style played a major role, especially if you wanted to line up with the ideal, rich, typically white and carefree VSCO girl who could wear T’s. – massive shirts worn with barely noticeable Nike shorts.

The VSCO girl had a short lifespan from 2017 to 2018, but there’s no need to be afraid, as TikTok videos that explain different aesthetics that viewers can choose from offer an abundance of options. “Tag your friends and ask them to tell you what aesthetic you are! Whether it’s an art hoe, a plant mum, a fairycore, or Christian Girl Autumn, the TikTok community has taken it upon themselves to take personal responsibility for breaking down these aesthetics and giving them names.

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The uber-specific fashion formulas for these aesthetic subcultures complete the circle of life when they are given a second life as memes, joining the ranks of other aesthetics who are clearly of some time. It’s a reflection of both Gen Z fashion and pop culture – maybe an aged aesthetic will become a starter pack meme, a Halloween costume, or just a pop culture reference. understood by a whole generation until the 20-year trend cycle strikes again and that same aesthetic is reborn.

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While you might not need to know that your preference for baby pink and leather makes you a ‘bubblegum goth’, there are some perks to these meticulous aesthetic purlins. They cater to those who feel drawn to a certain aesthetic but don’t have the vocabulary to describe it – fashion aficionados step in, putting style concepts into words to open the doors of the community wide. of fashion. After all, how can you create a moodboard to manifest your ideal cold-weather wardrobe without knowing what keywords to look for on Pinterest? Some on TikTok even create videos with lists of the right search terms to find inspirational photos in different common aesthetics.

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Or maybe this collective obsession with aesthetics is simply due to the fact that most of Gen Z are currently under 25 and go through years of training determining fashion preferences that may not be reflected. -be not directly in the physical communities in which they live. There is something to do. said to know that you identify with a certain named aesthetic that others appreciate as well. Social media algorithms lend themselves to this effort, constantly working to show users what content they consume the most, and while it can be dangerous in some spheres (echo chambers are a real thing), it helps. also people to discover and explore their fashion preferences through social media. It’s fashionable education accessible in a new form, accessible to anyone with a smartphone.

Fashion and identity are at the heart of this discussion as they always have been. Previous generations have scoured teen magazine quizzes that counted how many times you answered “A”, “B” or “C” to tell you if you are more of a slide or combat boots type girl, while Gen Z tags their friends in aesthetic videos on TikTok as to whether they’re more dark academia or light academia. It is not a new phenomenon, just a universal and collective desire to know who we are and to be known.

bop magazine teen mag quiz selena gomez
A quiz of a printed issue of BOP Magazine

BOP

The micro-trend is a side effect of the internet generation’s tendency to name and identify many more new aesthetics than previous generations. A TikTok video could explode in the blink of an eye, setting another micro-trend – an issue that has been criticized for creating unsustainable aspirations of constant buying and consuming thanks to the endless influx of new stuff. However, many of these micro-trends have become macro.

“Cottagecore”, “Coconut Girl” and “Y2K” have become commonly used styling terms by fashion brands describing their offerings, pushing their products higher in Google search rankings when shoppers Google things like ” coconut girl hibiscus print halter dress “or” front basic vintage Y2K low waist aesthetic mini skirt. This is no longer the trickle-down system that Miranda Priestly described in her iconic The devil wears Prada monologue in which she explains that garbage sweaters are the product of dozens of decisions made by the most senior officials in the fashion industry. Instead, it’s both trickle down and trickle down, as streetwear and social media fashion trends have a direct impact on mass retailers and fashion designers. These aesthetics have become so widely recognized that they are driving keyword research and sales as teens shop to match their current closets to the aesthetic they have chosen to identify with.

a style study the coco girl moderngurlz on youtube
A Style Study: The Coconut Girl

ModernGurlz on YouTube

Whether you love or hate the idea of ​​a personal ‘brand’, you can’t ignore the fact that many younger generations are looking to have a very clear brand aesthetic, ranging from e-girl alternative to e-girl. Texas-based fashion. blogger. This is nothing new – Marilyn had an aesthetic and Diana did too, but now everyone from Megan Fox to Emma Chamberlain to Instagram micro-influencers has a specific aesthetic on the social platforms that most of the generation has to offer. Z publish. It’s now a horizontal comparison, as those who aspire to be like celebrities or influencers are also looking to the brand’s aesthetic to raise their profile on social media.

For the fashion industry, it has become all the more important for brands to precisely align themselves with the aesthetics of their target population. Most of them do this through social media influencers, because if the general Instagram population says your brand is Y2K, or minimalist, or (God forbid) cheugy, that defines who it will attract – and who it will be scary. Aesthetics are not limited to defining fashion. They can now dictate their favorite movies, coffee orders and online shopping habits.

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Clothing has always been a way of communicating how we want to be seen, but social media has amplified the love-hate relationship between fashion and identity. There are an overwhelming number of aesthetics and brands to buy, so it’s no surprise that Gen Z is intrigued by the idea of ​​systematizing, naming, collapsing, and picking a few for themselves. It’s a way to stay safe from the identity confusion that comes with trying to keep up with them all, which is both confusing and incredibly expensive.

It’s about owning your place in the ocean of options and finding your people, and knowing that you can play with more than one aesthetic – maybe you define your style as cottagecore by the sea. , or irreverent scholar, or ’90s grunge with a Y2K moon. Either way, no matter what you like, there is an aesthetic for you that Gen Z has aptly named, just waiting to be pinned to a manifestation board.

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