These British TikTok Creators Are Changing How We Shop
And yes, sustainability is key.
Sustainable practices have become a growing area of interest for the social media savvy Gen-Z and, thanks to social media, the availability of information on ethical materials and clothing companies has never been more accessible. It’s an issue that is pressing and that many believe can no longer be ignored. In 2019, the Guardian reported that one in three young women in the UK consider a garment old after one or two wears. In that same year, Oxfam estimated that more than two tonnes of clothing are bought each minute in the UK, which is more than any other country in Europe. This mentality is having a devastating impact on the planet.
In direct reaction to this, there has been a proliferation of content creators taking to TikTok to promote and educate their audiences about sustainable fashion. Stand out social media stars include Andrea Cheong, the founder of Mindful Monday Method, who uses TikTok to promote more conscious shopping choices; Amy Lesko, who created her own ethically sourced fashion brand; Celia Harper, who uses the platform to showcase her brand’s sustainable swimwear; and Hudi Charin, the founder of Big Sister Swap, a personalised shopping experience created to help people shop more ethically.
These four women have each carved out a space on the app, raking in thousands of likes and comments for their videos. I sat down with them via Zoom to find out more about how they’re using TikTok to drive awareness for sustainable fashion.
Founder of Mindful Monday Method
If TikTok is your platform of choice for sustainable fashion know-how, chances are you’ve come across the texture-savvy titan Andrea Cheong. With a following of over 130,000 on the app, Cheong’s expert tips on what makes an expensive and well-made garment are paramount when shopping online or on the high street.
“The thing with Instagram is that it’s very much an echo chamber. You see the same feeds and it's very much preaching to the choir. I think when I started posting on TikTok eight months ago, it was like a whole different thing. The audiences that you reach — you're no longer talking to people who already like you or want to know you. You're talking to people who are extremely critical. But in a good way. The positive side to that is that it makes you evolve your content more.”
The Mindful Monday Method is a concept Cheong created to promote more conscious shopping habits. She also talked me through what we should check garments for before we buy them. We used a blazer as an example.
“Let’s put the price aside for the moment. You should be checking for piling or snagging on the fabric. Loose threads as well... untrimmed threads are not the worst thing ever. Then we should be checking for the buttonholes. Are they neat? Is it fraying?
“Then we’d be checking for the lining. We would be looking to see if it's a higher price point, what kind of details we're getting. We should be seeing an inner pocket. We should be seeing a vent at the back. We should always be seeing some kind of cuff detail because a lot of fast fashion blazers really skip that. Sometimes they even have faux buttons. So, we need to be checking it has all the elements of a proper blazer.”
Founder of Shop Amy
Shop Amy is fun, handmade, and kind, just like its founder, designer and illustrator, Amy Lesko. Lesko makes everything by hand and does limited runs of each piece. She uses sustainably sourced fabrics and outlines all pressing ethical issues on her quirky and colourful website.
“I think it's just a conscious thing, isn't it? You're either that way inclined to care about the planet or you're not… I was just kind of sick of learning about Pretty Little Thing [and] Boohoo, and just seeing so much stuff goes to waste really. I followed loads of small fashion brands anyway, and it just kind of all came together really. My values and fashion came together as one, and then I was like yeah I'm going to make my own brand because that'd be fun, so I did!
“I'm never going to have this time again; I should use it to start my business idea that I want to start. So, I started doing that, and then I started going on TikTok and I saw other small brands posting on there, and I was like ‘oh my god’ I didn't realise you could grow on this platform. I didn't actually give it much thought, and I think that's why TikTok’s really good; it’s just a ‘press and go’ app. You don't give it too much thought, it's not polished. It's real. It's who you are.”
Founder of Junk LDN
If you’ve been on the lookout for sustainably made swimwear, Junk LDN has got you covered. Launched in August 2020, the brand has racked up over 300k likes on TikTok, promoting their fun and flattering beachwear options. Founder Celia Harper started the brand after travelling around Southeast Asia for five years.
“We had a viral video, so we gained quite a lot of followers and then it's been slow and steady since then. So many customers have found us through TikTok, and they've always said, ‘Oh, I really love your sustainable values and ethos’. So, it's a big thing that people seem to find us on TikTok, and then maybe come over to Instagram to ask us questions.
“I think a lot of Gen-Z are really interested in sustainability and climate change because they're going to be affected by it the most.
“In terms of growing on TikTok or the TikTok space in general, I think that it’s a really great platform to start calling out people … I think it's really great that we're starting to call out people who are just capitalising off of exploiting other people. I think it's good that we are keeping people accountable and I think we need to keep doing that until they learn and change their ways and maybe start advocating more sustainably. I think it all starts with the big players who have influence, and I think as soon as they can kind of have a positive influence it's going to really help.”
Founder of Big Sister Swap
Founded in 2019, Big Sister Swap combines personal styling with sustainable shopping. It’s the world's only online personalised shopping experience, born out of the need for less time-consuming ways to shop more ethically. Big Sister Swap is an inclusive service, swapping clothes for all genders and ages, including children’s wear.
“I think people really respond to the organic thing on TikTok and real people. Instagram is a lot more polished, so I think people like seeing small businesses and the real side of small businesses a lot more on TikTok.
“It has that grassroots feeling. Like real people, and I also think they feel that they can really interact with us a lot better. They can be like ‘Oh, could you make a video about this?’ and we can just pull out your phone and show them an office tour or put together a quick outfit and it doesn't have to be perfect.
“So [customers] order a swap online so there’s different size bundles that will hopefully work for every budget. So, our smallest bundle is £15 for three items. And, then our biggest bundles are £65 for a five kilograms swap which we think of as a full wardrobe refresh. When they order that they then send us their unwanted clothes and then they fill out a style form they tell us everything they want their sizes. A lot of time they attach Pinterest boards and then, when we get their unwanted clothes, we handpick code and send it back to them.”