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UA faculty and students reflect on TikTok’s headscarf trend

 audrey hepburn by fred baby is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

 “audrey hepburn” by fred baby is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

A silk scarf can be wrapped around the torso as a shirt, which is a popular summer style that is seen on the University of Arizona’s campus, but a scarf can also be used practically as a way to shade hair and scalp from burning in the Arizona sun. 

As the weather gets warmer and the sun shines brighter and longer, the practical and timeless headscarf has already caught people’s attention going into the summer as seen in a viral TikTok trend, where users recorded themselves driving to Mike Posner’s “Please Don’t Go.”

Historically, headscarves have been used for religious and cultural purposes according to Elif Kavakci, assistant professor of practice of fashion industry’s science and technology at the UA School of Family and Consumer Sciences and fashion designer for Kavakci Couture. 

“Scarves have always been a part of dress in different civilizations and societies,” Kavakci said. “Since headscarves have been used so commonly, they have evolved as fashion accessories.”

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Audrey Hepburn was a timeless celebrity known for her use of headscarves on and off set, seen in the Netflix documentary “Audrey.” Fashion scarves in gingham or cotton fabric have also been popular among the Cottagecore internet aesthetic that replicates rural life through vintage clothing and accessories and simple daily tasks like gardening, baking and sewing. 

The practical headscarf has once again caught the fashion world’s attention going into the summer and fall of 2021. As reported by Vogue, Versace and Dior featured headscarves and babushka scarves as accessories for their Autumn 2021 collection, among other designers. 

Another trend prediction for the headscarf was its prevalence on TikTok.


No passenger because I’m protecting my energy these days

♬ Please Don’t Go – Mike Posner

“Social media is the biggest factor that impacts trends in the fashion industry,” Kavakci said. 

Kavakci teaches a course at the UA titled “Digital revolution and cultural trends: The influencer phenomenon.” The class explores the digital revolution that has taken place because of social media and influencer culture.

“Consumers want to see clothes on real people, their favorite influencers and shop according to what their favorite influencer wears,” Kavakci said. 

While the fashion world used to revolve around fashion magazines and celebrities, it has transitioned from fashion blogs and now to social media. 

“Influencers have become the authority figures,” Kavakci said. 

TikTok has become the number one social platform, as one of the most downloaded apps of 2020. High-end fashion brands like Yves Saint Laurent and Louis Vuitton have started to live stream their runway shows on TikTok. 

Beyond name brands, individuals with diverse backgrounds and interests have become fashion authorities because of TikTok’s factor of virality and its adaptability to niche interests or tastes.  

“Social media provides a platform for the decentralization of fashion from the small circle of fashion authorities,” Kavakci said.

As one of the largest social platforms, TikTok influencers have become fashion authorities for their followers, which can be in the millions. 

Elizabeth Heuisler, an assistant professor of practice at the School of Family and Consumer Sciences, has worked in many aspects of the fashion industry, whether interning for a designer, teaching a sewing class or designing clothes herself. 

Heuisler called herself a traditionalist and has a different approach to social media than Kavakci. Heuisler said that she sees comparison in social media, as influencers take pictures of seemingly perfect lives, with luxury and brand-name clothing. 

“We’re sending this message that everybody has to be fashionable,” Heuisler said, “and that’s not necessary.”

Creative Director of the UA TREND Fashion Club, Zoe Armbruster, had a different approach. “Social media has opened this different level of creativity and fashion,” Armbruster said. 

After a period of gloom or war, there have historically been fashion booms, according to Armbruster.

“People have just been stuck for too long. People are expressing themselves in a different way and you see that on TikTok too,” Armbruster said. 

Armbruster said that SHEIN has become a popular brand thanks to its popularity on TikTok. SHEIN is a fast-fashion retailer that produces large amounts of inexpensive, trendy clothes. Armbruster admits to shopping at SHEIN herself and said, “people are going to buy what other people are buying.”

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Trends are changing fast and social media was not helping slow the process, Armbruster said. 

“Regardless of if you’re interested in fashion or not, the trend is to be fast. You want a fast-paced career, you want a fast-paced life and I think that all comes from social media,” Armbruster said. 

Trends like biker shorts, decorative hair clips and leather pants are trends that have come and gone on campus. Armbruster said she sees people wearing bandanas or scarves as shirts on campus but hasn’t seen too many people wear a headscarf. 

“That’s more like East Coast people,” Armbruster said. “A classy, fancy look.” 

Social media and Influencers continue to have an effect on the fashion industry and the recent TikTok trend seems to have played a role in the trend projection of the headscarf’s resurgence. While the headscarf trend in fashion may come and go, the headscarf still holds cultural and religious significance, while also serving functional and fashionable use for consumers.

Follow Bellah Nelson on Twitter

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