Taylor Van Dijk | Writer
September 18, 2023
When I went to watch the highlights of the bi-annual New York Fashion Week, I honestly did not have super high expectations. Like countless others, I anticipated the typical fashion show stereotype: models strutting the runway, sporting severe expressions and outlandish outfits by famous brands like Ralph Lauren, Coach, and Micheal Kors. However, I did not foresee random TikTok influencers skipping down the runway, animal rights activists covered in paint, or random men in shower curtains sneaking onto the stage. The 2023 New York Fashion Week has led me to the conclusion that the emergence of TikTok as the dominant social media platform has completely changed the fashion culture and the prestige of the fashion industry.
New York Fashion Week (NYFW) is supposed to be about professional models showcasing clothing by world-renowned designers. Invitations only extend to the most elite figures in the entertainment and fashion sector, making it an extremely exclusive event. However, with the rise of Tikok in the last decade and a new generation of overnight influencers, the demographic of these shows has begun to change. This shift is definitely not for the better and there are a few reasons for that.
For starters, the leaders of NYFW decided it would be a great idea for Paige Niemann, an Ariana Grande lookalike on Tiktok, to walk down the runway in what can only accurately be described as a trudge or a confused skip. “It was pretty bad,” junior Payton Blake remarked. “When I saw the videos I honestly thought it was some kind of joke.” Unfortunately, this model walk was not satire. That said, the internet seemed to view it as such; after the show, several jokes began to circulate about the infamous walk, one of the most notable being a picture of Niemann walking with the caption, “Me tryna hurry when someone is holding the door for me.” With her whole brand being built on impersonation, she really should have worked harder to impersonate that walk. Bringing this influencer into the fashion show is generating a lot of backlash not only because the walk is one of the worst movements I have ever seen, but also because adding an inexperienced model with no talent amongst career models is a clashing and strange move.
The show continued with surprise visits from animal cruelty protesters and internet pranksters. You would think that they would have very tight security at such a high-profile event, but not at New York Fashion Week. Somehow, a man wearing a shower curtain was able to walk down the runway for a long stretch of awkward silence before being taken down by security. With other TikTok influencers looking foolish on the runway, some believed this man to be completely legit. On the internet, some made the joke “They just mad because his fit was the best in the collection.” In fact, other Tiktok influencers, the Nelk Boys, crept their way onto the runway wearing black angel wings, and they were not even stopped. To round out this series of intrusions, PETA protesters fought against Coach with a “leather kills” sign displayed and covered in red paint. “The whole event just seemed super uncoordinated and random,” hunior Emily Ohman said, “I feel like it was more about the people than the actual fashion.”
The disastrous chain of events that occurred at New York Fashion Week are all linked to Tiktok. Instead of serving as an exhibition of art, this NYFW turned into a complete and utter joke. The strong presence of influencers at the show has blurred the lines between the satirical nature of the internet and the serious and prestigious environment surrounding fashion. The purpose of showcasing fashion and style is completely undermined when people act out for their five minutes of internet clout, another circumstance illustrating how integrating the changing landscapes of social media into the fashion sphere has it moving in completely the wrong direction.