Trump’s TikTok Ban may Impact the Fashion Industry

After weeks of speculation around the security of TikTok and its links to the Chinese government, President Donald Trump declared he will ban the app from operating in the United States

Though this is solely a statement and no policies have been pushed, Trump’s statement may be layered with more political tension than meets the eye; he has consistently been working towards rupturing ties between the two nations, spurred by both economic competition and clear ideological differences. The White House has openly criticized the authoritarian system of governance in China, led by Xi Jinping. On July 23rd, 2020, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo gave a speech with clear hostile undertones towards the country.

“If we want to have a free 21st century, and not the Chinese century of which Xi Jinping dreams, the old paradigm of blind engagement with China simply won’t get it done… The free world must triumph over this new tyranny,” Pompeo said.

Both Pompeo and Trump’s rhetoric towards China in speeches and press conferences, with calling COVID-19 the Chinese virus at the centre of it all, exemplify the new nature of competition and aggression between the two countries. China is the United States’ main commercial rival, and the second economic superpower in the world. Economists around the world have predicted the nation will continue to grow and may actually surpass the United States in the next 10-15 years. The World Bank states that since its economic reform in 1978, China’s GDP growth “has averaged almost 10 percent a year, and more than 850 million people have been lifted out of poverty.”

The relationship between the U.S. and China does have an impact on style and fashion. Trade, tariffs, and economic competition between the two will influence the industry, and the cultural inspirations of designers in the respective countries. Moreover, TikTok has served as a hub for videos about fashion and style, providing an opportunity for creators to learn from one another, share lookbooks, vintage fashion finds, and tips and tricks on wearing cultural outfits and luxury garments.

It’s ironic that one of the major trends on TikTok in the last few months was documenting the street style of China, featuring incredibly dressed influencers strutting the streets of Beijing. The attitude and wealth of the nation is palpable in these videos — Western creators were immediately drawn to it. Many American TikTok users actually took major inspiration from these videos and attempted to recreate them, but the overall consensus was that China has a level of affluence and class that the United States simply could not replicate.

The political decision of banning TikTok removes a unique form of social media from the world of creative individuals, and it will mean the end of this form of fashion expression. It will be interesting to see how the tensions between China and the United States further impact all levels of society, including fashion and the arts.
Alysha Mohamed