August 11, 2022

TikTok Fuels Overcomsumption and Here’s Why

By Kelsey Munger

It’s no secret that TikTok has taken over as one of the most popular social media apps of the decade. With over 37.3 million Gen Z users alone, it has quickly become a massive influencing platform.

While there are numerous amounts of ever-changing trends on TikTok, one of the most popular ones are “hauls”. In fact, #haul has over 19.9 billion views alone. These are videos that users post to show off copious amounts of items that they purchased at one time. Hauls can be of clothing, food, or even just ordinary household items from a store such as Target.

No one can argue that it isn’t fun or exciting to watch these videos to see what other people have bought. You may even want to buy the same thing for yourself! But unfortunately, this can send you down the rabbit hole of consumerist culture.

Consumerist culture has become fueled by social media and Gen Z has become affected by it the most. Excessive materialism, especially in fashion, is encouraged by social media as TikTok users get showered in likes, comments and follows for showing off what material items they’ve purchased. 

Overconsumption is a consequence of consumerist culture. In fact, on average, Americans are purchasing nearly 70 pieces of clothing annually, or more than one new item per week. A large factor of this is the rise of fast fashion. Fast fashion speeds up the consumption of fashion, and brands “have massive amounts of clothing and can ensure that customers never tire of inventory”. 

Some popular fast fashion brands on TikTok include Zara, Princess Polly, and Shein. These brands cut production time, in order to replicate fashion trends as they appear in real-time and are priced extremely low. In turn, this causes a detrimental environmental impact and unfair wages to factory workers. 

So with all of the negative consequences of fast fashion, why is the generation that is so connected to social causes still buying from these companies? Fast fashion thrives online and we all know that Gen Z lives there. With its low prices, easy return policies and free delivery, consumers ofter get instant gratification from their fast fashion purchases. Consumers are recommending clothing and given direct links to purchase them from influencers when they view fast fashion content. 

Internet culture and the obsession with social media paired with consumerist culture should be to blame for the rise of fast fashion and TikTok has, unfortunately, become the platform encouraging it the most.

5 thoughts on “TikTok Fuels Overcomsumption and Here’s Why

  1. Hey Kelsey!
    I found your super interesting and totally agree. Fast fashion is effecting our environment, but it has become such a huge trend in our generation. Shein hauls are one of my favorite things to watch on Tik Tok, but it crazy to see one person buy 20+ items at times. I also agree that our generation is known to be worried about social causes, but does not realize the every day impacts that their decision make. One of my favorite and easy ways to shop more sustainably is to thrift clothes. You can still get multiple items without having to buy a brand new top that someone was underpaid to make. Lets hope the internet culture can one day influence Gen Z enough to understand the impact they are making.

  2. I’ve talked about this a million times with all my friends, we call it the “SHEIN mindset”. Fast fashion provides us with exactly what we were looking for, at a cheap price, and delivered within the week. I also think that for our generation, we forget that places like Zara and Princess Polly and a lot of those online stores, are all fast fashion sites. I often forget myself because I’m so caught on the idea that SHEIN is the worst and the only. I also really liked what you said about instant gratification. Our generation, through all of our major defining years, has never known what it’s like to wait for something. We get exactly what we’re looking for sent directly to our doorstep. We can look something up on our phones and have an answer within seconds. We have access to social media at all hours of the day. Fast fashion and brands apart of fast fashion, have taken this mindset we have and monetized it for themselves.

  3. Exactly, the environment got a lot influenced by mass consumption and production. However, we don’t have the right to stop what is valuable and deserved to be produced. Instead, what we can do is generate more great ideas to win over those markets. Fast fashion is cool, but if the company can use eco-friendly or recycled materials will be better! Minimalism is too hard to achieve for our students.

  4. Hi Kelsey! I loved this post. I think these haul videos are getting a little less popular because people are finally starting to call out people, and rightfully so in my opinion. I remember seeing hauls titled things like “$500 Shein Haul” which is so upsetting because if people have that much money to spend on clothing, they should probably be shopping at places that don’t practice fast fashion. I feel like if these kinds of videos lessened, other people would be less influenced to buy something that won’t be in trend in a month.

  5. Never thought about the connection between fast fashion and tiktok but I love the tie. I remember Shein’s rise to popularity and hindsight it worked almost simultaneously with the popularity of TikTok. It would be interesting further dive in the impact TikTokers have in influencing fashion. I believe a case could be made for the correlation between the gentrification of thrifting and the popularity of certain clothing items/styles being correlated to the medias trends.

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