By Olivia Marcus

When an intern steps into a dimly lit fashion closet for the first time, they are often given the same advice for success in the fashion world.

Don’t be late. It’s a small industry. Treat everyone with the utmost respect - you never know who you are speaking to, they may be someone.

I heard similar advice when I worked my first New York Fashion Week in 2019 for Raf Simon’s Jaws-themed Calvin Klein collection. I maintained a constant level of naive professionalism and even embarrassingly asked legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath for her ID to confirm her identity when checking her in.

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The senior fashion staff’s standard “first day on the job” advice echoed through the streets of Soho this fashion week almost mocking the seasoned slew of editors as TikTokers (many of them still interns themselves) strutted into Spring Studios and popped champagne with Paris Hilton at Saks.

The new group of fresh-faced, iPhone-yielding influencers used TikTok’s accessibility to film themselves right into the front row. They are the new someone. I would probably hate them, too, if I wasn’t one of them.

I had dismissed the idea that I’d be invited to fashion shows as a 25-year-old with a full-time corporate media job until I started posting TikTok videos. I did not set out to be an influencer but rather was eager to find my own creative outlet around fashion and the city that inspires the best looks. Over the past year, I have been able to grow my TikTok account to 120K+ followers and often have videos get over 1M views.

I can understand the dismay of some fashion industry elitists at the thought of more influencers entering the space purely on the basis of it undermining years of professional industry experience. Does a platform intended for Gen-Z and built on “hype” and “clout” have a place in the historic, socialite-studded fashion world? The answer is within the question. Of course! Fashion’s next biggest consumer is Gen-Z and what would any label be without clout?

This NYFW yielded the triumphant entrance of a relatable, size-inclusive, honest influencer. Reviews were posted in real time and brands like Chromat were praised for diversity on the runway. TikTok has evened the playing field, giving everyone the opportunity to have a viral opinion.

Not everyone on the app was in agreement on this change. In a meta turn of events, I spent hours scrolling through TikTokers using the app to criticize other TikTokers for their new role in fashion. While Instagram provided street style inspo, TikTok served a socratic seminar.

Like most good criticism, it was constructive and laced with nuanced validity. Should the TikTok creators who frequently promote fast fashion designer “dupes” through Amazon hauls then be invited to the designer’s show? Do these young influencers have any personal style outside of free clothing sent in PR packages? Should we not hold TikTok responsible for accelerating the trend cycle at a dangerous pace? These questions lingered as I posted my own highlight reel of fashion week content. My outfits ranged from designer vintage to ZARA and while I’d like to think I have great personal style, I cringed at my old Princess Polly hauls. You would do it too for a check!

If Fashion Week runs in seasons, this was the pilot episode for TikTok creators. I am personally looking forward to seeing the authenticity many creators infuse into their content bleed into the fashion world. With some help from the algorithm, the general public will be choosing the front row for years to come with Dixie D'Amelio and Addison Rae at the Met Gala serving as Anna Wintour’s blessing.