In the midst of the classical end of the year reflection (the only classical thing of this 2020) I found out that every second I stopped dedicating to the kind of people that leaves you low and dry (as the mask, it has been basically another way of surviving), I have devoted to TikTok. I have studied it with pleasure and tenacity, the way one only studies the things one doesn’t understand. TikTok users dance (some of them sing), cook, tell anecdotes (#storytime), give advice on health, makeup, love life. They do stunts, show off physical attributes, fight among themselves (#beef). In two minutes on the social network you can see how Charli D’Amelio goes more viral, learn how to properly wash your towels, find out what people eat in a day, witness a priest explain the holy sacraments and see a pharmacist taking bachata steps while giving tips on how to not get STDs. You can learn the wave technique or exercise your shoulders with a Japanese doctor. Discover the history of a painting from the Prado Museum or receive legal advice. Let me say it again: you don’t understand anything. In the chapter that concerns me, fashion or #tiktokfashion, the content can be summarized in a case for fast fashion (hello, Shein) and the little difference: everyone dresses the same. If you spend enough time (in my case it was months) you might find your needle in the haystack: a tiktoker that speaks your language. “How to attend fashion week “. @sircrombie, I’m all ears. To my surprise, he uses his 30 seconds to share what all fashion editors do before fashion weeks and reveals the most reliable professional tool in the field: modemonline.com. When you find your needle, you hold on to it, so I sent him a DM in the hope that he could answer my questions.
I didn’t get a clue about TikTok so I met with the first user that spoke my language in the hope he could explain it to me. Here’s what happened.
Words by Raquel Fernández Sobrín
Aritz Larrabe is 22 years old and come from Bilbao. He’s in his final year of fashion design in Madrid, although he almost took a different path at 18: “The idea was to go to Cuba because I’m half Cuban on my mother’s side to study Medicine. Last minute I realized that I didn’t see myself opening people up for the rest of my life. What can I do that I like, that I can make a living of it and also enjoy it? The answer is fashion, but how did it ended being so? “My grandmother used to sew, she made her wedding dress. My mother loves it too, but not professionally. It was a random thing: seven or eight years ago I was on Youtube and suddenly a fashion show came up, I don’t know if it was Marc Jacobs or McQueen. I loved it and kept on researching. I swallowed all the shows of that season in one go. Fashion shows are not just for seeing beautiful things, they improve your visual culture: the colors, the volumes… the codes are similar to those of art”.
Now that presentations are done, let’s get down to business: What’s all that fuss around Tiktok about? “It’s a very strange thing because it all started with Musically, which was a more limited social network. TikTok is very organic: any video can go viral. I thought TikTok users were all fifteen year olds. […] People are fed up with Instagram because its algorithm does not support new creators. You’d have to spend three to six months uploading quality content every day for the algorithm to deign show you out on Explore. The good thing of TikTok is that all videos are in the For You page. With the free time we had indoors, how bored Instagram is, and how fast TikTok proved to be, people started seeing their videos reach thousands of views. I did that too at the beginning of the quarantine, I didn’t upload fashion content until July.
Since then he has accumulated 160.8k followers. With the followers come the haters? “Yes. But look, if you’re going to mess with me because of my looks you’ve got it easy. In case you want to mess with me for the contents… not that much. For that part I have not been subject of hate, although it happened when I made the video talking about the plagiarism of Off-White. You do receive hate because of your sexual orientation, and the worst thing is that it comes from children. As soon as you start having numbers… Well, they call me Cayetano. And the Cayetanos insult me,” he laughs.
Aritz makes a clear distinction between content and fashion content because, although most of his content is fashion related, his “fashion content” is to TikTok what High Fashion Twitter is to that social network. Less bitter, though. If Dixie D’Amelio, the aforementioned Charli’s sister, collaborates with Chanel, he makes a video about It. If Prada presents its first collection co-designed with Raf Simons, he makes a review. “I am aware that by creating the kind of content I create I limit myself. I’m going to start including style videos, continue with the vlogs…. I have to personalize the content because otherwise the viewer remember only info and not you”. So he is a man with a goal: “I take it easy. I am and I am not ambitious. But I am fussy with the quality, I do not upload anything. For me it is a strategy for the day that I have to face the work market, for the day I put product out, so people would buy because they like mi and because they know me. I am studying design, but I have a multitasking profile: I like styling, I would like to combine it with what I am doing in social media, I would like to create a brand at some point. If I get to do it I won’t pretend to make it a Dior. It would be something premium because there is a clear gap in the market. The problem with a lot of designers is that they don’t have their feet on the ground. They are very excited about designing, but it is difficult to make a living from it. There have to be a business side that supports the project of the brand”.
To what extent has the pandemic delayed your plans? “It has stopped everything. If companies are letting people go… how are they going to hire profiles like mine who have just graduated? It has given me time, though. I’ve dedicated part of it to the alternative that for me is TikTok. I didn’t expect it, but here it is. Here we are too, two hours after our first greeting. I didn’t expect it, but here we are. Talking about Raf, Virgil, JW and Nensi. Who’s doing well and who’s doing awful. Aritz and I are eleven years apart – the same time I’ve been working in the industry he wants to work in- but our interests are the same. Maybe that is the secret of TikTok, bring people with common interests together. Oatmeal bowls, the desire to have a rhinoplasty, the need to know if tiktoker A is dating tiktoker B. Nobody wants to feel lonely.