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Anytime I step outside of my apartment and into the streets of Isla Vista, I am bound to find someone selling their clothing at a stand filled with the most unique styles of clothing and trends that encompass all eras. When I scroll through Tik-Tok and Instagram, I see countless renditions of Euphoria-esque looks, Dark Academia, Cottage-core, etc. There seems to be a growing movement of self expression through the means of fashion, but what exactly is the force behind all of this? The answer is social media.

Social media is unique to the up-and-coming generations and has enabled them to share creativity and inspiration through the click of a button or the swipe of the screen. Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Tik-Tok, and many other apps share this same concept with the same abilities just wrapped up in new packaging. They all let us communicate on a mass scale and facilitate the flow of ideas and inspiration, especially when it comes to fashion. Social media is merely a medium for the fashion industry to reach younger generations, and it is working.

We all know there is an impact of social media on the fashion industry– we can see that with our very eyes– but anecdotal evidence aside, this study investigates the big picture of this phenomenon, and well, the results are staggering. The study found that “if there is an increase in social media by 1%, it will lead to a[n] increase in [the] fashion [i]ndustry by 20.6%” Every “haul” on Tik Tok and every “OOTD” on Instagram has a major effect on its consumers and how they spend their money. Trends that may have started on a small scale now have the ability to make or break sectors in the fashion industry. One fashion movement that has really emulated this phenomenon and has gained quite a bit of traction is thrifting.

According to an article from NPR, thrifting is a “$28 billion industry that is expected to eclipse fast fashion by 2029.” We can see that this movement is predominantly led by Gen Z, a majority when it comes to social media use, because Depop has a user base with 90% being below the age of 26, and Tik Tok’s average age being 27. Social media’s strong hold on the younger generations could be the very explanation for this recent spotlight on fashion and its highlighted importance.

Social media has truly enabled the free flow of creativity and sharing of ideas for Gen Z. We now have a medium to explore so many new trends and unique pieces; we are no longer stuck with the brands or the styles that are rooted to our area, and thanks to thrifting, even our time period.

Hi! I'm Shannon. I am a third year Statistics and Data Science student at the University of California, Santa Barbara. I strive to find new ways to connect my interests in statistics to realms such as fashion and beauty. Some of my favorite activities are gardening, cooking, and yoga, oh, and I love cats!
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