Teen Clothing Businesses Are Booming on Instagram
Quarantine has given many the opportunity to start buying and selling thrifted and customized clothes.
A few days ago, I was on Instagram when I noticed a curious trend. Many of my friends and classmates were posting links to newly-created accounts on their IG Stories, advertising that they were now selling clothes. I’ve realized this is happening not only where I live, but all over the country, presumably as bored teens clean out their closets or try their hand at DIY-fashion while in quarantine. In the past few months, Instagram accounts of small clothing brands, by-and-large made by teenage girls, have popped up left and right.
The accounts I’ve seen usually fall into three categories (and I’m only including pictures of those that are public). The first, and most common, are “closet” accounts, where people sell their own clothes that they either don’t like or wear or that no longer fit, often T-shirts, sweats, and accessories. The second are custom college gear accounts, which make custom college T-shirts, sweatshirts, and other apparel in trendy designs. Finally, there are tie-dye sweatsuit accounts, which make custom, pastel tie-dye or bleach-dyed sweatshirts and sweatpants for people — this tie-dye style has skyrocketed into popularity within the past few months.
Selling clothes on social media is not a new idea — the app Depop has been used by teens to sell and buy clothes for a while now. However, it is occurring currently on a much larger scale — it seems that everyone now has some kind of clothes account on Instagram.
And while some of these accounts have blown up and grown into bigger brands, most are pretty small and localized. Their customers are mostly the owner’s friends and classmates, and all business communications and transactions are done through DM and Venmo.
One of the reasons these Instagram brands have become so popular is because of the current social distancing happening due to COVID-19. Being stuck at home, many teens have had time to clean out their closets or work on creative fashion projects. Comfy apparel is also in high demand right now, which explains why college sweatshirts and tie-dye sweatsuits have become so trendy and popular.
Their rise can also be attributed to the changing dynamics of Instagram. For today’s teenagers, Instagram has largely served as a sort of “highlight reel” of one’s life — it’s been meant to show off one’s friends and vacations, not one’s creative experiments. This has been slowly changing, and teens have begun to create travel, art, and photography accounts to show their work or adventures. But during quarantine, as students miss out on the communication that would normally happen at school and extracurriculars, social media, especially Instagram, has taken a larger role in connecting people and showing their peers what they are doing, making, and selling. Thus it makes sense that people have begun to have multiple accounts on Instagram, one for themselves, and one as a sort of digital marketplace-portfolio hybrid, to showcase their creations or brand. It just so happens that those creations currently happen to be tye-die sweatsuits.
Thrifting has also exploded in popularity within the last year or so. This is in part explained by the fact that today’s teens are extremely socially and environmentally-conscious, and they favor individuality over name brands. Thus, it makes sense that thrifting would eventually cross over into Instagram, one of teens’ most-beloved social networks.
Ultimately, I wouldn’t be surprised if small clothing brands continue to prosper on Instagram, even when we’re no longer social distancing. From all our time on the internet, I think we are seeing how it, and especially social media, can be used in more creative and connective ways. It is no longer just a place for people to show off the best of their lives, but to experiment, sell things, and even unite through a common appreciation for tie-dye sweats.