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How TikTok is changing the fashion industry: sales & customer behaviour

From viral trends and fashion hauls to unfiltered clothing reviews, TikTok has changed the game when it comes to engaging with customers as a fashion brand. But how can it help you drive sales?

Unlike Instagram’s ultra-polished, often over-edited depiction of the fashion industry, TikTok is viewed as a space for creativity, authenticity and unfiltered self-expression. Fashion-lovers are increasingly using the app to discover the latest trends, get honest reviews of brands and products, find inspiration for new looks and connect with like-minded individuals.

TikTok has quickly become an authoritative platform when it comes to dictating trends, creating viral products and driving sales for retailers of all sizes amongst Gen Z and Millennial shoppers.

So much so, that in September, TikTok announced #TikTokFashionMonth - a whole month dedicated to fashion and beauty inspiration aimed to “make fashionista dreams come true, with a month of programming sure to delight even the most picky fashion lovers”. They’ll be working with creators to showcase the latest trends and content while further developing their e-commerce credentials, allowing the app to compete with its more established rivals like Instagram and Facebook when it comes to in-app purchases.

“Fashion is legit on TikTok. It goes beyond the outfits and into creative expression. TikTok is a place for joy, and it’s giving the fashion industry a whole new way of showcasing their art and Personality.”

Kudzi Chikumbu, Director of Creator Community at TikTok

The power of TikTok: does it really drive sales?

TikTok has been dubbed the fastest-growing app in the world. At present, there are over 1.7 billion users worldwide. It’s where many of us are spending an increasing amount of our time - usage is up a whopping 70% Year on Year.

Interestingly, users interact differently with TikTok compared to any other social media platform. TikTok has overtaken YouTube when it comes to average watch time per user in both the US and UK, while the average engagement rate for the app currently stands at 29% globally, compared to Instagram’s average of between 1 and 6 percent.

The app is challenging traditional discovery channels like TV. While in the past people might have found their inspiration on TV shows and adverts, 33% of Gen Z say they watch less TV after joining TikTok — and 81% of users say they plan to spend the same amount or more time on the app. It’s increasingly becoming the best place to reach people as time on the platform versus other channels grows.

When it comes to driving sales, TikTok reported that 57% of respondents have been led to make a purchase through the app, with users getting ideas for new things to buy with every swipe.

Recent research confirms that TikTok has seen a 553% growth in shopping on its app since the start of the pandemic. From a consumer perspective, more than three-quarters of UK consumers feel ‘more influenced’ to shop on social platforms than they did a year ago, and nearly half have chosen to try a new brand for their go-to products thanks to something they saw on social media. Perhaps most notably of all, the number who claim to ‘always’ be shopping on social media has risen by 164% year-on-year.

From art and home furnishings, to craft supplies and baked goods, you can discover and go on to purchase a whole host of items via TikTok. However, let’s explore the world of #FashionTikTok and the role it’s playing in initiating viral trends and driving sales.

How is TikTok impacting the fashion industry?

Fashion-focused scrollers are actively searching for, and engaging with, content that interests them, with #FashionTikTok and other fashion-related hashtags amassing billions of views to date.

A screenshot of hashtags searched for on TikTok, showing the number of times it's been used on the app, such as hashtag fashion 4.4 billion views.

As a result, fashion brands are able to connect with and inspire a global audience who have already shown an interest in industry-relevant hashtags, opening their reach further and wider than most ad campaigns ever could and getting their campaigns directly in front of the consumer.

Brands are embracing new technologies

TikTok is changing the way larger fashion houses, such as Gucci, represent themselves amongst millennials and Gen Z. In the past, product launches and new collections were often promoted via glossy photoshoots for magazines and seasonal fashion shows. Now, designers and fashion brands can live stream events on TikTok - showcasing new collections and catwalk shows, as well as behind the scenes interviews - meaning viewers can be fully immersed in the experience.

In January 2022, Highsnobiety took this one step further by working with TikTok's Francis Bourgeois for a collaboration between Gucci and The North Face. Gucci has already been aligning its marketing with its younger customers, but by working with Bourgeois, a 21-year-old trainspotter who's the darling of TikTok, they've found a way to be ahead of the curve, both in trend forecasting and digital marketing. In an interview with The Drum, founder and chief exec of Highsnobiety, David Fischer, said: "We're going to see fashion brands push cultural commentary on this convergence in more unexpected ways."

While many still invest in traditional campaigns, marketing teams now also use TikTok as a key social platform (both organically and with TikTok advertising) to tap into younger demographics and stay relevant.

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Creators and brands are breaking barriers with inclusive videos

TikTok is fashion forward but it also gives light to “niche” styling, meaning there’s something for everyone, no matter your taste. A fashion-for-all attitude on the app has allowed for an industry typically dominated with photoshopped images featuring tall, slim models and ultra-polished Instagram influencers to better reflect society.

From shining a light on black fashion business owners and providing plus-size styling tips, to educating people on accessible clothes for the disabled, TikTok has brought a whole new level of inclusivity to the fashion world. In line with wider societal movements on a global scale, this attitude is also starting to be adopted by some brands within the fashion industry, with a diversification of models used in campaigns across all mediums.

Small businesses can compete with global brands

But it’s not all about the mega fashion brands and designer labels - #FashionTikTok is an arena where brands of all sizes can play, and smaller, emerging brands can thrive. The TikTok community is 15% more likely to buy from a small, independent business compared to other social media channels. Even an account with very few followers, can get thousands of views on a video!

Regardless of size, TikTok is a great way for fashion businesses to connect with their target audiences and engage with a new era of influencers who have established authentic, trusting relationships with their followers. Due to its incredibly refined algorithm, your content is able to be found on the Discovery and For You Pages of those who already interact with similar fashion-related content. Need some help with video ideas and TikTok tactics? Read on for our top tips on using TikTok successfully as a fashion business.

How to drive website traffic and boost sales on TikTok

Now you know why TikTok is a great place to connect with your potential customers and stay up to date with the latest viral trends, here’s how you can get the most out of the app as a fashion business. From the basics of what to include in your bio and the development of your hashtag strategy, to content creation and advertising opportunities, here are some tactics you can use to drive traffic to your site and increase sales:

Put a link to your website in your bio

Let’s start with an easy one; include the link to your site in your bio. There are very few places in TikTok to include a clickable link, so make sure you’re using this one!

Be sure to include relevant hashtags

Apart from the obvious ones like #fashion #fashiontiktok and #fashioninspo, you’re going to want to include up to five others, so try to use a mix of relevant fashion-based hashtags such as #PlusSizeFashion or #FashionHaul.

Don’t forget to tap into trending hashtags and cultural references (if applicable) so your brand can hop on the back of their virality. For example, the release of #Bridgerton on Netflix sparked a whole lot of corseted looks from TikTokers inspired by the show!

Spend time creating engaging content

It’s important you get creative with your videos - 75% of people using TikTok come to the app to be entertained - and while TikTok is best known for its dance challenges, there’s a whole lot more to it! If one of your goals is to appear on your target audiences’ For You Page (which it should be), keep an eye on what transitions, content themes and sounds are trending, and make sure you’re utilising them or putting your own spin on them in your own videos.

Consider using TikTok Ads

If you don’t want to leave it up to the algorithm and want to guarantee you’ll reach your target audience, you should consider putting some paid budget into advertising. New research shows that 25% of Gen Z say that they have purchased or researched a product advertised on TikTok. Although this is a lower percentage than on other platforms such as Instagram, TikTok is growing faster and has a significantly higher engagement rate.

Minimum daily spend for ads on TikTok is £20, and in the UK the average cost-per-click is around 15pence. For context, anything under a CPM (cost per 1000 people reached) of £1 is considered good, making TikTok ads a very affordable option when compared to other media.

Although the ad targeting isn’t as granular as what you would find on Facebook or Instagram, you can still target people by demographics, videos they are interested in (such as clothing and accessories), and the type of creators they follow or have viewed. That makes finding audiences interested in fashion pretty straightforward!


Did you know, 69% of all TikTok users follow creators? Like influencers on other channels such as Instagram, they hold a lot of selling power due to the authentic, unfiltered relationships they’ve built with their following. You should consider using creators in your TikTok ads and content to tap into their audiences and likability. Or you could try sending them clothes hauls of your latest ranges for them to style in their own way, creating looks their followers are likely to want to replicate.

Over 50% of marketers plan to increase their budget for TikTok influencer marketing campaigns this year - will you be one of them?

How can your brand use #FashionTok to influence sales?

TikTok creators now play a significant role in dictating global fashion trends. While it used to be fashion houses who held all the cards, curators are now driving viral trends and playing a role in deciding what’s hot and what’s not, which is influencing mainstream fashion like never before.

Take the recent resurgence of Y2K fashion for example - demand for brands such as Juicy Couture, Von Dutch and Ed Hardy surged as the #Y2Kfashion hashtag reached over 184 million views.

Our top tip? Stay relevant. You have to keep your eye on the ball if you want to stay relevant in the fast-paced world of TikTok and drive people to buy your products.

Fashion brands wanting to leverage the platform should pay close attention to the video formats and sounds used by popular fashion content creators on the platform who align with your brand and target audience. By mimicking these popular content styles, branded content feels more native and less like promotional posts, meaning there’s less chance users will skip your ads.

Be sure you stay in the loop with what’s popular in your niche. Jumping on trending sounds and challenges vastly increases your chances of getting your video and featured products seen by potential customers who the algorithm has identified as interested in similar content.

When done well, this kind of content can heavily influence purchase decisions and drive demand for fashion brands, no matter their size or how long they’ve been established.

Here are six trends you should seriously consider tapping into if you want to succeed on TikTok:

1. TikTok made me buy it

With 4.8 billion views, this hashtag is dominated by people sharing the fashion, home and beauty buys they purchased after seeing someone else with the product on TikTok.

All social media marketers know that User Generated Content is pivotal in influencing purchase decisions on social media, and this video style really plays into that. Whether you already have a product people want to review to see if it lives up to the hype, or you aspire to be that product, tap into the range of creators relevant to your audience who can work to drive traffic to your site, boosting product sales by being so good, they just had to have it.

2. I bought the viral [jeans/dress/shoes] that everyone is talking about on TikTok

When it comes to fashion, everyone wants to be seen wearing the latest trends. There’s even a whole video format dedicated to what looks have gone viral because of the app!

Pre TikTok, we often looked to magazines, TV shows or brands to tell us what to wear, but in 2021 we want to wear what everyone is talking about on TikTok.

Almost 68% of content creators state that they have purchased a product after viewing a post from someone they follow on TikTok, so if you create a product which generates enough buzz on one video, it can inspire other creators to buy it and share it with their following. Soon you could have your own selection of brand ambassadors who are promoting your product to the masses!

3. Try on my latest fashion haul with me

While trying on clothes once meant stripping off in a poorly-lit changing room, fashion creators are now posting their latest shopping hauls on their TikTok channels - sometimes this format is also paired with the latest trending sounds, meaning brands can tap into multiple trends and hashtags at once!

Let’s take a look at Zara, a brand benefitting from hundreds if not thousands of fashion haul videos. The hashtag #ZaraHaul has amassed a whopping 1.3 billion views as of September 2021, helping them to increase online sales by an impressive 95% during the first month of lockdown alone, despite physical stores being closed.

Haul videos are being made by people of all shapes and sizes, with creators showing what some of the current trends look like on different body types. While some recommend brands who get it right when it comes to creating clothes that fit women above a size 8, others highlight the shortcomings of brands who fail miserably at catering to larger sizes.

Remi Bader, who creates videos of hauls from highstreet brands such as Zara, H&M and Fashion Nova, has built a career based on showing how their ranges look on a plus sized body. With almost two million followers and 45 million likes, she’s been dubbed the ‘queen of realistic hauls,’ partnering up with brands who better cater to plus sized women, ultimately driving sales as a brand partner through discount codes and product recommendations.

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4. Check out my latest charity shop or thrift store haul

Although similar in principle to the above, this genre of video caters to the rise in demand of slow fashion.

Younger generations are more environmentally conscious, and are opting to create thrift/charity shop hauls showcasing their more sustainable finds as opposed to supporting fast-fashion brands, which contribute significantly to global warming.

If your fashion brand is eco-conscious, try tapping into the sustainable fashion hashtags, and connect with likeminded audiences who would be interested in purchasing from brands who align with their values. The hashtag #charityshop has 47.1 million views, #slowfashion has 117 million views, so there is most definitely demand there, it’s simply a case of you tapping into all those potential customers.

5. What I'd wear if I was in...

This is an oldie but a goodie. Users love to recreate looks based on cultural cues such as; famous films or TV series, the latest Netflix releases, cartoon characters, seasons (Halloween), occasions (weddings), and in the front row at various fashion week locations.

This gives brands a unique opportunity to push products that aren’t new or weren’t considered popular before these cultural events took hold. From the preppy look - channeling your inner Cher from clueless - to weddings throughout the four seasons, this trend allows you to showcase products in a fun way that doesn’t seem like product promotion at all. Just be sure to pick the right TV show to match your audiences’ interests!

6. Outfit inspiration questions

An example of a creator who is absolutely nailing this trend right now is @newlookstevenage, who gains thousands of views on their organic content from people looking for some fashion inspo.

Customers are invited to put their personal fashion dilemmas to the New Look team via the comments, such as ‘I’m 30 years old, a size 12 and need an outfit for work drinks.’ The team then gets to work providing a solution to the problem, racing around the store in seconds to find and share an outfit that meets the request. This works on so many levels as it inspires more than just the original requestor, as well as highlighting new product ranges and driving purchase intent.

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Is TikTok influencing how we search for fashion trends?

In short, yes!

From Google trends data, we can see that TikTok is almost certainly having an impact on organic searches for the latest fashion trends, with users around the world looking for the products they’ve discovered on the app.

Who remembers ‘The TikTok leggings’ that filled our ‘for you’ feeds for the best part of a year? With 681.3m views of the hashtag #TikTokLeggings on the platform, it’s clear shoppers in their masses seemed to want a pair, as seen in this graph which shows Google search results during the same time period.

A graph showing the number of searches for the term TikTok leggings over the same period of time they were viral on the app.

This explosion in demand led to both the original and copycat brands optimising their Amazon listings to include the term ‘TikTok leggings’, while publications such as The Independent and Good Housekeeping featured product reviews on their sites, which further increased their search presence on Google even more!

A screenshot of a news story with the headline: TikTok's obsessed with these leggings that make your bum look big, and they're just £21 on Amazon.

Examples of fashion brands using TikTok well

There’s nothing like a little inspiration to get the creative juices flowing, so here’s three examples of fashion brands who are absolutely nailing their TikTok strategies, influencing sales and customer behaviour - including one from an Extreme client!

Lirika Matoshi’s Strawberry Dress

This dress started appearing on social media in early 2020, but TikTok helped contribute to its meteoric rise in popularity. The reaction was comparable to the Zara polka dot of 2019, which was so popular it had its own instagram page.

With its $490 price tag, this beautiful dress is out of reach for many consumers, leading to home-sewers recreating it themselves and some highstreet brands using it as inspiration when creating their own versions. By sharing their process on TikTok, the home-sewers further cemented the virality of this dress.

Corsets make a comeback

With period dramas like Bridgerton taking the world by storm, it’s no surprise that some historical fashion trends make their way into the 21st Century, with a modern twist. Both highstreet and designer brands were soon incorporating corset styles into their collections, with bustiers and lace up detailing dominating Summer ranges. Corsets weren’t the only trend to come out of the hit show, with searches for lace tops (37% increase), puff sleeve dresses (26% increase) and headbands (25% increase) all on the rise as reported by Tatler.

Online retailers such as Pretty Little Thing, Missguided and Asos all produced corset-style tops, dresses and bralettes, using TikTokers with fashion-forward followings to create a range of looks to show different ways of styling them.

The key is to jump on these trends quickly, whether it’s creating related content or developing products to meet the demand for the latest viral trends. We can’t wait to see what the next one will be!

Repurposing reels for Coco Boo Loves

What sets Coco Boo apart from other brands is their styling; which showcases their latest products to customers and all the ways they can wear the item. With a strong presence on Instagram, we identified that the Reels they were filming were ideal for TikTok, meaning with a little editing we would be able to maximise the impact of the video content they were creating.

Over the course of three months, we helped establish their presence on the platform, running a broader campaign initially to tap into relevant interests, then using this to create a lookalike audience for subsequent campaigns, ensuring we reached key demographics. We produced top performing creative including styling videos, “How to wear it” tutorials, and “Rail Run Throughs”, where they showcased their newest items in a time-lapse video. Our informed strategy underpinned with audience research resulted in a 20% overall increase in traffic to the New Drops page as well as a 47% conversion rate for product views.

TikTok is now integrated into their social media strategy, and continues to deliver great results in terms of brand awareness, site traffic and sales.

So, is TikTok really changing the fashion industry?

The latest social media platform to break onto the scene is having a huge impact on the world of fashion. It’s changing how we discover it, buy it, try it on and search for it.

From designers and fashion brands connecting to customers on an intimacy level they’ve never seen before, to a new generation of more authentic, unfiltered influencers who’s opinions on products and brands carry a significant amount of weight with their followings, TikTok has forever change the game when it comes to fashion brands connecting with new and existing customers.

Looking to get on board? Our team know how to leverage TikTok to drive sales for fashion brands — take a look at our TikTok marketing services!

Are you a fashion brand (or other business) who needs help leveraging TikTok?

Get in touch

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Headshot Donna col


Head of Social

Since forming Extreme’s social media department back in 2012, our Head of Social Donna and her team’s work has been recognised nationally. With extensive experience spanning mutiple sectors, Donna specialises in social strategy, ideation and paid social advertising.

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Laura col


Paid Social Strategist

Laura joined Team Extreme in 2017 and through the years has refined her social media skills to become our Paid Social Strategist. She works with our social clients to plan and execute content across a broad range of sectors and channels, helping clients maximise their results and ROI.

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Headshot Beth col


Social Media Strategist

Extreme's resident Instagram queen, Beth lives and breathes all things social media! After graduating with a degree in Advertising, she explored all aspects of the digital world before firmly finding her feet in the land of social. Day to day, you can find her brainstorming for campaigns, drafting up witty content and strategising to help clients soar on social.

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