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The TikTok Subcultures Defining Fashion Trends

Before the pandemic hit, TikTok was app that few of us took seriously. In fact, most of us swore to never download it. Then the pandemic hit, and everything changed. With endless hours in the days that we needed to fill, TikTok became the leading social media platform by the end of 2020. While we often associate Instagram with fashion trends, TikTok is rivalling the app for its fashion crown. With its viral videos, TikTok has become a breeding ground for every type of subculture. The algorithm allows you to curate your ‘for you page’ to reflect your fashion and personality.

Everything from the tie dye trend to the cancellation of skinny jeans have all come from TikTok. Here are three of the TikTok subcultures that are defining the fashion trends of 2021.

Dark Academia

If you’ve spent anytime on the TikTok app, you’ll know that everyone is either talking about Harry Potter or a niche within classic literature that only their followers would understand. Dark Academia is a subculture that had been slowly building on platforms like Tumblr and Pinterest before being given a new lease on life through TikTok.

Dark Academia is an elevated fashion trend that focuses on classic silhouettes from the 1930s through to the 1950s. Imagine the sort of outfits students would have wore to prestigious universities during this era. The clothing is almost entirely neutral, with a focus on materials like wool. The TikTokers in this subculture will be found sipping on their black coffee with a leather-bound book, while wearing a turtleneck and loafers. Thrifting plays a major role in this subculture, promoting the sustainable fashion practice.


making my dream cottagecore dress (aka my daisy dress 🌼) - inspired by the strawberry dress! #diy #fashion #cottagecore #strawberrydress

♬ Line Without a Hook - Ricky Montgomery


If Dark Academia is found in the corridors of a library at midnight, then cottagecore is their distant cousin. This is another subculture that started on social media platforms like Reddit and Tumblr. As the name suggests, cottagecore is focused on the ideal rural lifestyle. It’s a romanticisation of nature with a focus on floral arrangements, reconnecting with the outdoor world, and wearing dresses that look as though they belong in a children’s books.

The cottagecore fashion trends has seen a spike in searches for brands like Laura Ashley and Liberty London as thousands of TikTok users hunt down the perfect floral dress to show off to their flowers. This subculture also focuses on natural makeup or wearing no makeup at all.


On the opposite end of Cottagecore, we have the E-Girl subculture. This aesthetic is a blend of scene, punk, and goth. Imagine the sort of clothing you would have seen people wearing to a Paramore concert in the early 2000s. It’s all about fishnets and miniskirts with vintage band tees and hair that has more than one colour in it. You can even find DIY videos online teaching you how to become part of this subculture. This trend has even made its way into the world of luxury fashion, as Celine took inspiration from the e-boy equivalent as part of their menswear collection for spring 2021.

What do you think of these subcultures? Are you seeing evidence of them in the latest fashion trends?

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