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FROM AR TO AI: THE EVOLUTION OF FILTERS

we deep dive into how filters have changed over the years and why people are Turning their backs on them

By Nana Akosua Frimpong

Friday, 24th of March 2023

We’ve all tried a filter on social media at one point or another. Whether it’s the flower crown or the dog ears, when they first came out they were a super fun way to keep us entertained and share with our friends and family. 

In 2015, Snapchat initially offered basic augmented reality (AR) filters which went viral. They were a game changer. Since then, Snapchat has evolved. In 2017, they released Lens Studio for users and advertisers which allowed everyone to create custom filters and apply them to personal snaps and sponsored content. 

The popularity of those filters led other social media platforms to create their own, with Instagram introducing AR filters in 2018. This was a huge step in the world of AR.

Following in the steps of Snapchat, Instagram allowed creators to show off their creativity with their own personalised filters. Content creator Coco_floflo even had her own filter named ‘filenoir’. 

The introduction of AR allowed everyone to have fun whilst being creative. It was a great business opportunity, allowing them to get closer to their followers by creating personalised filters that reflected their brand identity. 

Fast forward to now and AR filters are now being replaced by AI filters. 

Snapchat is still considered the leading platform, but as TikTok has gained users, they’re now challenging Snapchat for the title – something Instagram tried and failed to do.

Back in December 2022, we were all introduced to the viral ‘magic avatar’ feature on the photo-editing app Lensa. The app allows users to transform selfies into AI-generated avatars. 

Launching to meteoritic popularity overnight, Lensa became one of the most downloaded photo and video editing apps on the app store. 

Some may argue that Lensa’s AI-generated filter opened the door to TikTok launching its own in the form of ‘Bold Glamour’. Creator Chiara King posted a video to the platform after it launched to show how the filter makes her look like a “completely different person”. 

Since its launch in February of this year, there have been 1.5 million videos and counting using Bold Glamour and over 400 million views. Suffice to say, the filter has taken over our social spaces and made a big splash. 

The filter uses AI to assess your face and then completely re-moulds it as though you have undergone an actual cosmetic makeover. The filter has been created so that it’s difficult for others to know you have used it. It’s both simultaneously over-the-top in its transformation and scarily subtle. And there’s a reason it’s so realistic, TikToker zhangsta explains that it was created using machine learning.

She says “Unlike traditional beauty filters that use an augmented 3D face mesh that is overlaid on top of your face, filters like Bold Glamour and Teenage Look use a machine deep learning tech called GAN (generative adversarial networks), meaning every pixel on your face is regenerated and then outputted after referencing a dataset of images – which is why the filter looks so realistic”.

Since its release and rise in popularity, there has been a lot of backlash around the effects of filters on mental health. Beauty brand Dove introduced a campaign initiative called #TurnYourBack which encourages everybody to turn their back on using Bold Glamour.

Dove’s campaign acts to encourage people to reject the ideology that filters make you look better and instead encourages you to celebrate your natural beauty. 

@zhangsta Lots of controversy around this viral new filter #boldglamourfilter and how realistic it looks. 🤯 i was curious on how it works, s/o to @luke.hurd for explaining the tech behing this new filter! #deeplearning #augmentedreality #zhangsta #todayilearned #newtech #machinelearning #viralfilter #explained #teenagelookfilter ♬ original sound - ZHANGSTA🫡

American Actress Gabrielle Union co-signed the #TurnYourBack campaign on Oscar night, taking a stand against unrealistic beauty standards. In her video, she says: “The Bold Glamour filter dramatically distorts reality and reinforces narrow and unattainable beauty standards. As a parent and someone who’s felt the pressures from social media to look perfect, it’s important to me that people realise the negative impact this can have, creating appearance pressures and low self-esteem, particularly among young girls. They need to know they are enough! I’m proud to join Dove and turn my back to the Bold Glamour filter.”

Content creators such as Lou May joined Dove’s #TurnYouBack campaign too, sharing their take on why distorting images can be harmful and why they have joined the initiative. 

This isn’t the first time there’s been a backlash. In 2021, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) stated they would be sanctioning creators who use misleading filters in beauty ads. Oglivy followed suit in 2022 by stating they will no longer be working with creators who edit their faces or bodies for #ads.

Over the years, we have grown to see filters develop from one fun, creative and exciting idea to another and AI filters are no different. As AI continues to infiltrate our everyday lives, it’s important to remember that filters are part of our online culture and something that is rooted in self expression and experimentation. 

From the introduction of Adobe Photoshop to AI filters, image editing has been and will be part of our lives for a long time to come. As more sophisticated filter technology emerges, it will be interesting to see brands either sanction or utilise them. Time will tell. 

TRENDSETTERS: WHAT IS DUPE CULTURE?

it’s a battle between accountability vs. accessibility

By Bella Hales

Friday, 3rd of March 2023

TikTok is one of the biggest platforms for fashion trends, and has become a hub for hauls and reviews. The latest trend to take over on the short-form video platform is ‘Dupes’. The term, which is short for duplicates, is the Gen Z abbreviation for knock-off versions of more expensive items. The hashtag #dupe has now been viewed more than 2.7 billion views. 

Interestingly, dupe culture is not an entirely new phenomenon. The nature of the fashion industry has always involved reinventing popular trends and themes from the past. In previous decades, fast-fashion brands would more often than not target high fashion companies, and use their designs to ‘inspire’ clothes in a more affordable collection. Nowadays, however, when a particular item or brand goes viral, the aim of a dupe is to recreate the product in its most similar form for a fraction of the price. It is no longer a product of inspiration but a mirror image.

Previously, owning an overly obvious knock off was seen as something to feel embarrassed about. With Gen Z’s adoption of this trend, however, finding ‘dupes’ and ‘copies’ is an achievement and now seen as something to be proud of. The ‘hot girl’s don’t gatekeep’ trend, which you can read more about here, is reflective of this new concerted effort on TikTok to reveal your best kept fashion and beauty ‘secrets.’ A great example is when TV presenter Annaliese Dayes proudly took to TikTok to flaunt her very own House of Sunny dupe. The video gained 767,000 views.

Dayes isn’t the only creator to gain success through this trend. Blythe Snyder went viral when she pioneered the parody version, labelled the ‘doop’ trend. Whilst shopping in Target, Snyder started to notice how many items reminded her of higher-end products. She took to TikTok to document this, holding up products like a black tote bag, calling it a ‘prada dupe’ with an exaggerated pronunciation of the word “dupe”.  The video quickly went viral, and received over 2.9 million views, with many creators recreating it.

@annaliesedayes

So why is the dupe trend so popular?

When thinking about the main age demographic on TikTok – Gen Z and millennials – it is understandable as to why the trend has taken flight. These groups are less likely to have disposable income to spend on high-end products, and are generally more trend-led when it comes to fashion and beauty. Dupes encourage accessibility to those who may not have the means to purchase the original product, allowing everyone to have access to trending designs regardless of their budget. With the current cost of living crisis in the UK being an ever prevalent issue, dupes allow people to feel involved.  

There are, however, challenges that come with dupe culture. Firstly, fashion and beauty trends are ever changing, and therefore the production of dupes requires a quick turnaround. In order to meet such tight deadlines, fast fashion brands often don’t meet environmental and social standards. 

According to the Fixing Fashion report, textile and garment production contributes more to climate change than aviation and shipping combined and is responsible for 20 percent of industrial water pollution. Moreover, Fashion Checker reported that 93 percent of fast fashion brands don’t pay garment workers a fair living wage, meaning dupes encourage an exploitative work culture. 

@thefifthagency What is dupe culture? We find out in our new trendsettters piece. Thanks @SheerLuxe for the inspo #dupe #dupes #dupemindset #officehumor #officetok #london #agency ♬ original sound - THE FIFTH / CREATIVE AGENCY

Shein, the Chinese fast fashion brand is a key example of this. In an Instagram post by @Highsnobiety, it was reported that Shein adds over 1,000 new styles to its website every single day and has no sustainability initiatives nor transparency around its production and manufacturing processes. Despite this, the fast fashion giant has quadrupled its revenue over the past three years, reaching $15.7 billion in sales, confirming the popularity of cheaper alternatives. 

Secondly, there is the issue of intellectual property and who owns the design, and whilst high end brands do not tend to mind when they are ‘copied’, there are many cases of litigation in the mid market territory.

Overall, when it comes to dupe culture, there is clearly a battle of accessibility vs. accountability. It can be argued that it is elitist to assume people can afford designer clothes or always shop ethically, whereas others would argue that the sustainability concerns outweigh the argument of accessibility. 

World Book Day: Celebration of BookTok creators

WE Honour world book day by celebrating one of tiktok’s biggest communities

By Nana Akosua Frimpong

Thursday, 2nd of March 2023

BookTok is a subcommunity on TikTok which is focused on literature and books whereby creators post videos analysing, reviewing and discussing the books they read. 

What began as a small group of people sharing their favourite book has since grown into an influential community that has the power to propel authors out of relative obscurity straight onto the bestseller lists. 

With over 111.2 billion views, this subcommunity has already won several awards, including being awarded the FutureBook person of the year award. It has also had an overwhelmingly positive impact which has led to increased book sales and the discovery of new writers. 

Collen Hoover is a prime example of an author who saw her book sales increase exponentially, with 427,000 copies of her book It End With Us being sold in the UK in 2022.

@bookishbytammi

This subcommunity is continuing to disrupt the publishing industry as both publishers and booksellers scramble to scoop up the latest success story and stock up on the latest TikTok-trending book. 

Due to its huge success, TikTok announced a collaboration with Penguin Random House and launched a feature which allows creators to link to books in videos using the popular #BookTok hashtag while also working with various creators to curate content.

Leading the march on unveiling book hauls, challenges, book wrap-ups and reviews, Booktokkers continue to thrive within their community. And in honour of World Book Day, we’re sharing just a few members of the BookTok community who have inspired our reading habits.

@jackbenedwards buying books and reading books are two different hobbies #booktok ♬ original sound - Shep Gold

Joel Rochester posts about ‘books and beverages, sorcery and swords’ on their channel. That’s how Rochester  – the man behind the YouTube channel Fictional Fates – sums up his content. With a combination of book hauls, reviews, and bookshop tours, the Cardiff graduate is a go-to for book round-ups and recommendations.

Jack Edwards is a lifestyle content creator and book addict. While his content is mostly education-oriented, his TikTok channel is dedicated to sharing book reviews alongside pop culture and political commentary. Kate Wilson started her account during lockdown but has since been known to hop on all the TikTok book trends such as ‘convincing you to read my favourite books based on their aesthetics’.

@mireilllelee

Mireille and Elodie are sisters, 15 and 13, who run a shared page dedicated to sharing their favourite reads and honest reviews. Their summer review on Where the Crawdads Sing went viral with over 1.3 million views. 

Tammi is mostly known for her beauty content but as of June 2022, she started a TikTok channel dedicated to her love of reading where she shares some of her favourite books and takes part in book challenges. 

Nokukhanya is a PhD candidate, a cafe connoisseur and an avid reader. Her passion for reading has led her to review and recommend her favourite books. Her profile states that followers should ‘Come for Books’ and ‘Stay for Aesthetics’.

Kenya is a French content creator and book addict who often shares her book hauls, unboxing and reviews with her audience. She is slowly building her own library and loving it. 

Taylor Rosen is a book and movie buff whose passion for literature and cinematic classics has led him to be part of the BookTok community. He also creates humorous content alongside recommendations videos. 

BookTok is a growing community and one that is sure to last for a long while. As brands continue to work with creators within the community, it would be interesting to see other communities capitalise on the importance of having an engaged audience. Happy World Book Day, readers! 

Is it ‘Lucky Girl Syndrome’ or toxic positivity? 

WE BREAK DOWN THE TIKTOK TREND THAT INSINUATES SUCCESS IS SOLELY BASED ON LUCK

By Bella Hales

Thursday, 16th of February 2023

What is Lucky girl syndrome? It’s a form of manifestation. A way of thinking or willing your dreams into reality. It’s also trending on TikTok right now, and the hashtag #LuckyGirlSyndrome has been viewed over 402 million times. 

Lucky girl syndrome is most popular amongst young women, and encourages people to share their success stories and positive experiences to social media platforms, explaining how they have been fortunate in life and have achieved their goals through luck – rather than hard work and determination. 

The term first started trending in December 2022, when @lauragalebe took to TikTok to tell her followers how she gets offered “the most insane opportunities” as a result of simply “expecting great things” to happen. The video now has over 3 million views.

The trend continued, with @Skzzolno and her friend posting a TikTok a few weeks later. In it, they explained their positive experience with lucky girl syndrome, and argued that by repeating the words “I’m so lucky, everything just works out for me”, they have passed their exams with flying colours and got the best bedrooms in their new college house. This video then got over 5.3 million views. 

This isn’t an entirely new concept. Manifestation and affirmations are phenomenons that have been around for a while and all stem from Neville Goddard’s book The Law of Assumption. The theory suggests that if we believe we have something, we will eventually get it.

On the positive side, the lucky girl syndrome trend can be a source of inspiration and motivation for other young women. Seeing others’ success stories can serve as a reminder that anything is possible, and you never know what tomorrow will bring. Additionally, the trend can help to promote a sense of community and support among young women on social media. 

As some have pointed out, however, there is a dark side to the lucky girl syndrome. Whether it is its roots in privilege as Dazed Digital pointed out, or The Guardian’s idea of toxic positivity where if things don’t work out for you, it’s because you attract the bad in your life. 

The trend can also lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem among those who are not as ’lucky’ as others. People might compare their own lives to the highlight reels they see on social media and feel like they are not achieving enough, or that they are not as successful. 

On top of this, the trend can perpetuate the idea that success is solely based on luck, which can discourage people from proactively trying to achieve their goals. This concept also flies in the face of the famous saying by the golfer Gary Player: ‘the harder you practise, the luckier you get’. 

It is important to remember that social media is a curated version of reality, and people are more likely to share their positive moments, successes and accomplishments rather than their struggles, failures and setbacks.

Whilst lucky girl syndrome is just a TikTok trend that probably isn’t here to stay, it is indicative of the manifestation trend that is making its mark in 2023 and one that we recommend brands keep an eye on.

Trendsetters: What does Gatekeeping mean?

We dive into the viral TikTok phenomenon

By Nana Akosua Frimpong

Friday, 10th of February 2023

You may well be familiar with the textbook definition of a gatekeeper: a person who controls or limits general access to something. It describes the general superiority of withholding information with the motive of keeping something exclusive.

Now, gatekeepers can include your favourite content creators refusing to share their favourite lipstick, in fear that it might sell out due to mass interest. It can also refer to someone who isn’t holding something tangible back, but an opinion on a situation or subject. 

Gatekeeping isn’t a new concept. This is a term that has been around for centuries. People are known to ‘gatekeep’ information that would likely benefit another, for the fear of too many people being knowledgeable. On TikTok, the terms #gatekeep or #gatekeeping have 226.3M and 386.5M views with the phrases usually seen in the comment sections of beauty and fashion haul videos. 

@kimberleypossible_

TikTok and its viral culture is known for its overnight cult following, which usually results in hidden gems becoming cult favourites. A great example of this is Fenty Glass Bomb Heat in the shade ‘Hot Chocolit’. The product went viral after creator Kimberley Possible posted a TikTok video praising the lip shade, and by not gatekeeping, saw the lip gloss sell out – with other beauty creators sharing dupes until the original was restocked. 

Despite the negative connotation associated with gatekeeping, creators on TikTok have taken to demolishing the absurdity of exclusivity. Phrases such as ‘hot girls don’t gatekeep’ or ‘soft girls don’t gatekeep’ are used with creators sharing exactly where they got the products that their followers are asking about.

Tiarna Macdonald, for example, told her followers how to achieve her home decor look, and the exact shade of blonde hair dye she uses on her hair. Faith Robertson also shared a series of her ‘gatekept’ products with her followers so that they could recreate her look. 

The gatekeeping trend isn’t just synonymous with the beauty community, and is used in relation to other conversational topics such as fashion, food and even activism. Here, creator Jessica Ufuoma showed she isn’t gatekeeping her travel destinations and clothing “because we’re all deserving of some amazing travel experience”. Another example of transparency is @iiislamo choosing not to gatekeep his Aldi food finds with his TikTok followers. 

What makes the trend so popular? Put simply, it’s the phrase itself which helps to make it so popular. By using the term ‘gatekeep’, social media users are intrigued and want to find out more about a product steeped in exclusivity. It’s as though they’re being let in on a little secret. 

Brands can easily jump on this trend by having creators insert the phrase in their content. Not only will it reach a mass audience, it will also create a buzz with people wanting to be part of the once-exclusive thing.

Streaming platforms can jump on the trend as well by having creators not gatekeep the latest show on their platform. Beauty brands can follow in the footsteps of Charlotte Tilbury when creators stopped gatekeeping the halo foundation, which resulted in it being sold out. 

It is also important to remember to not confuse gatekeeping with preserving culture. TikTok creator Natty Issues explains nicely in her video why preserving culture is not the same as gatekeeping. 

What are you no longer gatekeeping? And will you let us in on it?

Don’t simply Google it, TikTok it instead

How important is TikTok SEO and should brands consider it?

By Carla Watts

Monday, 30th of January 2023

It’s undeniable that TikTok has more than made its mark in the social media world. The app, which is known for its crazy dance trends and perfectly personalised ‘For You’ pages, has been downloaded over 3.5 billion times and has been the most downloaded app three years in a row now.

The app’s popularity, however, does not stop at singing and dancing. TikTok has proven to be an extremely influential and powerful app which leads to products – from mini uggs to Dior blush – completely selling out after trending on the platform, with the hashtag #tiktokmademebuyit being used over 39.3 billion times. Now, users are turning to TikTok to find top beauty products, the best spots for dinner or even reviews of the latest skincare – rather than Google.

LinkedIn: Georgia Branch

This recent shift has not gone unnoticed. Google’s Senior Vice President Prabhakar Raghavan highlighted how younger generations were using social media platforms as search engines, instead of Google, at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech Conference in 2022. Raghavan also mentioned that according to internal research, approximately 40% of young people will use platforms like TikTok to search for lunch options, rather than Google. 

It is important to note that TikTok is not the first social media platform to have been referred to as a search engine. YouTube has been increasingly used to search for products, tutorials and recommendations over the last decade. Furthermore, the same can be said for Amazon, as well as Instagram which has also provided users with the latest fashion and beauty trends. 

It would appear, however, that TikTok’s short and snappy videos provide up-to-date and instant answers which is perfect for Gen Z’s decreasing attention span. 

Moreover, TikTok users are given recommendations from their favourite content creators and can check the legitimacy of any recommendation with a quick scroll in the comments section. Even the creators themselves are talking about how they are ‘TikTok-ing’, not ‘google-ing’.

TikTok has acknowledged that users are beginning to use the platform as a search engine and have added in more features accordingly. When you start a search in the search bar for example, you will now see a list of other suggestions –  just like on Google.

When you click on the search bar it also shows you some of your past searches, as well as a “You may like” list of searches.

Furthermore, there are also search suggestions in the comments section.

It would seem, therefore, that TikTok is becoming the go-to Gen Z search engine. 

Jumping on the increased interest, TikTok have also recently released an advert showcasing the ‘search’ feature on the app, and the advert ends with the words “search it with TikTok”. 

If TikTok is being used as a search engine, what does this mean for brands and content creators?

As users of TikTok are increasingly finding content through the search bar, brands and content creators need to ensure that their videos are at the top of the search results if they want to keep increasing their views and building their audiences. 

But how do you do this?

This is where TikTok SEO comes in. Thankfully, this is not as complicated as it may sound. Let’s break it down. 

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) has traditionally been used in regards to increasing a website’s chance of being discoverable on search pages. When applied to TikTok, it means making your content more discoverable, and therefore more likely to get views and engagement.  

How can you incorporate TikTok SEO into your marketing strategy?

Luckily, TikTok SEO is super easy to incorporate and one of the best ways is to use keywords. 

Just use keywords? Almost.

The best place to start is to do some keyword research. This doesn’t mean hours of reading and note-taking, just a quick scroll on TikTok is all you need to do. 

Search the product/topic/content your video is about. If your TikTok is about skincare, for example, search skincare in the search bar.

You will then have a list of related words which you can then use in your videos, like “skincare routine”, “products”, “aesthetic” or “must haves”. You can use these by saying them in the video, putting them in captions and hashtags, and including them in any on-screen text.  

This should increase the likelihood of your video showing up in the search results.

Is TikTok really going to overtake Google as the number one search engine? 

Whilst TikTok may be great for searching for the best rooftop bars in London, there are some things you just can’t TikTok. 

The *very* important questions: what time does Starbucks open? Or where is the nearest Joe and the Juice? They may be more efficiently answered by a quick Google search. Furthermore, it seems like this shift in using social media as a search engine is more prominent amongst younger generations. 52.3% of all TikTok users, for example, are aged between 18 and 24. Furthermore, more than 75% of all users are aged between 16 and 34. Therefore, I don’t think Google will be disappearing any time soon. 

The way that people, and particularly younger people, are searching and using social media however has shifted. Consumers are looking for instant and direct results from the creators they trust. Brands and creators would therefore benefit from incorporating TikTok SEO into their marketing strategies if they haven’t done so already.

Trendsetters: Influencers are The New TV Stars

As their reach and influence expands, social media stars take on prime-time TV

By Milan Charles

Thursday, 26th of January 2023

The social media star-to-celebrity pipeline is no secret. With thousands, sometimes millions, of followers across their social media platforms, this celebrity stardom should come as no surprise. 

Red carpet invites and fans stopping them in the street for pictures are to be expected given their reach, but many social media stars have now made their way into mainstream media too. 

For the most part, social media content creators have a younger following than traditional celebrities and television stars, so when introducing them to prime-time television shows, not only does it benefit the reach and career of the influencer, but the success and viewership of the TV shows too. Knowing this, over the past few years TV networks have begun to welcome talent outside the traditional celebrity.

Gen Z now watches almost seven times less broadcast television than the generations before them, according to a report from regulator Ofcom. It said 16 to 24-year-olds spend just 53 minutes watching TV each day, a two-thirds decrease in the past 10 years. Understandably, this is not great news for television networks. 

Social media stars tend to have millions of followers who are of the generation that no longer engages with TV in the way we used to – incredibly loyal followers who, more often than not, are prepared to follow the lives of their favourite creators wherever it takes them…even if that means turning on the TV. By utilising some of the most influential online personalities, TV shows are strategically increasing their own audience, viewing ratings and engagement.

YouTube star Nella Rose and her co-host Oobah Butler

Many prime-time shows have therefore welcomed famous social media faces to their line-ups. The most pivotal is YouTuber Joe Sugg who appeared on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing in 2018. Joe was one of the first social media stars to appear on such a show, making quite an impact. Strictly Come Dancing’s social media presence almost doubled, with Sugg’s jive being viewed by over 1.3 million people compared to the 80,000 average. With Sugg alone potentially bringing his 8.2 million YouTube subscribers to the BBC, it is no wonder that the show saw such an increase in viewership. That is no coincidence. 

Joe’s Strictly success led to other shows also casting social media talent, and this has been the case year after year ever since. Strictly Come Dancing, I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here and Dancing on Ice are just three of the leading reality shows that have welcomed social media influencers with open arms. Gogglebox even aired a celebrity special featuring YouTuber KSI. The results speak for themselves.

YouTuber Joe Sugg with dance partner Dianne Buswell

Some networks have taken it a step further and given influencers their own shows altogether. MTV’s latest seasons of Catfish UK sees YouTube star Nella Rose and her co-host Oobah Butler help lovelorn hopefuls determine if they’re being duped by a devious catfish, a perfect fit for Nella who has always expressed her desire to become a TV presenter. Mo Gilligan, a renowned English stand-up comedian, who launched his career through social media skits and shorts on Instagram is now the host of his very own show: The Lateish Show with Mo Gilligan. It’s a total triumph and now onto its third season on Channel 4 with celebrity guests, music, sketches, games and prizes.

Seeing the proof in the pudding, Channel 4 has completely transformed its approach to casting and viewership. Why make social media users come to TV when they can bring TV to them? 

Introducing Channel 4.0. In October of 2022, Channel 4 launched its digital-first brand Channel 4.0, a brand new content destination, home to loads of fresh new social formats all rooted in youth culture. The core focus: reaching, engaging and entertaining 13–24-year-olds.

With a dedicated space on YouTube and across social, Channel 4 gives the generation’s top content creators the chance to collaborate and give young audiences a new place to get their daily dose of entertainment. The content features a whole host of established social first creators, from Chunkz, Nella Rose and Alhan Gençay to Spuddz, Mist and Dreya Mac. Channel 4.0 is a platform for the next generation of stars, both in front and behind the camera.

So, it seems that social media content creators are continuing to prove just how impactful their influence is. And with more and more shows and networks utilising their social media stardom, could this mark the beginning of a brand-new era of television altogether?

The Brit Crew: Where are the oG YouTube trendsetters now?

We check in on what Zoella and Louise Pentland are doing – and where they could go next

By Bella Hales

Friday, 13th of January 2023

In 2010, Youtube was still mostly a free-for-all mashup of music videos, comedy sketches and parodies. Slowly, however, a new trend was emerging: of creators posting charismatic and relatable content. 

In the UK, this trend was pioneered by a young group of 20 year-olds who would later be given the nickname the ‘Brit Crew’. The group included Jim Chapman, Marcus Butler, Alfie Deyes, Tanya Burr, Caspar Lee, Niomi Smart, Louise Pentland and siblings Zoe and Joe Sugg. Within just two years, it was almost impossible to escape this group of friends, and between 2012 to 2016, they were the ultimate trendsetters. From fun and humorous challenges going viral to beauty products selling out, they were the ones to watch. 

But what made this group of YouTubers so popular?

What audiences loved about the ‘Brit crew’ was that they were relatable, young and seemingly wholesome. Each week, you’d be able to watch them have fun, candidly share their lives and talk about things they were passionate about. YouTubers were the new celebrity and, unlike the typical out-of-reach A-listers we were used to, it felt as though these were real people with authentic and relatable lives. 

As the group grew in fame, however, with book deals being signed and awards won, the sense of innocence that was once there started to fade and slowly the fun and simplicity that was the world of the Brit Crew began to lose its shine. This was often through no fault of their own; audiences were simply growing up and the group’s squeaky clean content was less relatable as they aged and the YouTuber’s lifestyles became more affluent.

Zoe Sugg, Alfie Deyes and their daughter Ottilie

Some of the creators eventually decided it was time to move on to the next chapter and pursue other passions and careers, whilst others pivoted their content to be more in keeping with their ageing audience. Entrepreneurial brands were founded and companies formed, and some are still a success to this day.

As of 2022, the Brit Crew combined still have more than 42 million subscribers and here at THE FIFTH we have noticed an increase in visibility surrounding the group, and therefore wanted to learn more about where the original trendsetters are now and what they are doing. 

Here is what we found…

Zoe Sugg and Alfie Deyes 

Zoe Sugg and Alfie Deyes, potentially two of the most successful members of the group, are now settled down in Brighton with their one year-old daughter, Otillie. Whilst they haven’t been posting as consistently as they used to, they do still upload videos – with Zoe even participating in Vlogmas this year! Understandably, as they have gotten older and they have started to expand their family, their content has matured from the playful challenges and become more parenting-orientated. As well as Youtube, they both have successful businesses which they continue to run. Zoe turned her original channel name ‘Zoella’ into a successful blog where she and her team write about taboo subjects surrounding sex and relationships, whilst Alfie has a clothing company called Future Self which he set up with the idea of creating fashion-forward pieces that fit with his community’s lifestyle. 

Louise Pentland 

Louise Pentland aka Sprinkle of Glitter has continued her YouTube journey, and regularly posts videos. Her channel now, however, is lifestyle and family focused, showing her audience a realistic insight into parenting and co parenting after she separated from the father to her first child. She is now a Times #1 Best Selling Author and has written five books, has gone on to work with amazing brands such as Walt Disney World and Universal Pictures UK. On top of that, she is an NSPCC Ambassador for Childhood, and also hosts the Mothers Meeting podcast, where she covers all things parenting, from daily struggles to mum hacks. 

Marcus Butler and Niomi Smart 

Marcus Butler decided it was time for a new chapter when he last posted to YouTube five years ago, with no final exit video or reason why. Marcus has, however, recently come forward in an interview with the Rolling Stone, describing his choice to leave Youtube as an overnight decision, with him crediting this to simply “falling out of love with it.” He is now living in Berlin and is the co-owner of music management company Stripped Bear and is the co-founder of a sustainable fashion company called Nu-In

Marcus’ ex-girlfriend, fitness fanatic and health guru Niomi Smart is still an active user on YouTube. Living between Bali and the UK, her content continues to be centred around food and fitness and she has an extremely impressive resume of brand partnerships under her belt, from TAGHeur to BMW UK and Jimmy Fairly. On top of content creation, she was the co-founder of SourcedBox – a now-retired healthy snack monthly subscription service. She is the author of Eat Smart, a healthy and plant-based recipe book and more recently, she launched Smart Skin, a vegan, sustainable and natural skincare brand.

Alfie Deyes, Zoe Sugg, Jim Champman, Tanya Burr, Marcus Butler and Niomi Smart

Joe Sugg and Caspar Lee 

Whilst Joe Sugg, brother to Zoe, continued to do YouTube until about a year ago, his main focus has turned to acting and TV. In 2018, Joe became the first ever social media star to become a cast member of Strictly Come Dancing in which he came second place alongside his partner Dianne Buswell, who is now his long term girlfriend. Post strictly, he took an interest in animation films, and has starred in Shaun the Sheep, Wonder Park and more recently The Amazing Maurice where he plays main character Sardines alongside Emilia Clarke and David Tennant. Finally, he is co-founder of a talent management agency, MVE (previously known as Margaviane) with fellow YouTuber Caspar Lee. 

Caspar stopped YouTube in 2019 in order to pursue a number of entrepreneurial companies. He is now the founder of four companies, MVE (Margavaine), aforementioned, Influencer (a data-led, global influencer marketing business), Creator ventures (a venture capital firm that invests and collaborates with creators) and Proper Living (an affordable student accommodation company in Cape Town).

Tanya Burr and Jim Chapman 

Tanya Burr quit YouTube three years ago to pursue an acting career. Since then she has featured in the TV show Holby City and movie Venice at Dawn to name a few. Whilst her YouTube presence is now non-existent, Tanya still maintains a strong Instagram presence and continues to collaborate with beauty brands such as Elizabeth Arden and Function of Beauty. Around a similar time to when she left YouTube, Tanya got divorced from fellow Brit Crew member Jim Chapman. Since then, she has entered a new relationship, one that she has kept private, and recently gave birth to her first child.  

Jim Chapman is now remarried and has a daughter called Margot. Jim still creates videos for YouTube, however on his own personal channel he has steered away from challenges and moved onto family, lifestyle and high fashion content. He recently started a family TikTok page called The Chapmans where he and his wife, Sarah, document life as a family of three.

The Brit Crew all seem to have gone on to successful ventures since their group YouTube days when they were all associated with one another, but where do they go from here? It is clear that many will continue down the route of content creation, but the market is far more saturated than when they first started and there’s competition for audiences from younger, Gen Z creators like @olivianeill and @lookingforlewys on platforms like TikTok. 

Over the past few years, short form content has been on the rise, so adding TikTok to their platforms in which they post could help. The app has made it easier than ever to go viral and grow in popularity. It is also interesting to note that as the Brit Crew’s original audience have now grown up, many have started to frequent TikTok more often. 

Louise Pentland recently posted a TikTok video where she speculated that many of her original YouTuber following have now moved over to the short form entertainment app. This video went viral, with it gaining nearly 1 million views, 107 thousand likes and a multitude of comments validating her theory. 

Whilst many of the creators do have TikTok accounts, they are posted on a lot less than their YouTube accounts. Take Alfie Deyes for instance, who has posted 5 times on YouTube in the last 2 months, compared to 3 times in the last year on TikTok. 

My recommendation? To keep up with the Gen Z content creators and audiences, the Brit Crew should aim to up their presence on TikTok in order to reinstate their trendsetter status. 

The biggest social trends of 2022

From minimalism to the 5-9 routine, we take a look back at this year’s top trends

By Nana Akosua Frimpong

Friday, 23rd of December 2022

As 2022 comes to an end, THE FIFTH is looking back on some of the top trends that took over our social channels this year. 

We’ve seen more self-expression across platforms, the strength in online communities and have been endlessly inspired by the content being created. 

From shunning aspirational content with the rise of BeReal to creators reading the room and pivoting their content in response to the cost of living crisis, we wanted to give you a round up of some of the biggest trends we’ve seen take place on social:

Bobby Hobert

Minimalist and Maximalist Aesthetic 

This year, we saw creators such as Bobby Hobert show us the benefits of living a minimalist lifestyle. From decluttering and using only things that serve a purpose to de-stressing and putting your mental health first, we’ve loved watching and learning about ways in which we can all make small changes and adopt a more minimalist lifestyle. 

The Scandi-like fashion and lifestyle were adopted by many as we leaned into living a much slower, more attainable and sustainable lifestyle. Read our previous Trendsetters piece where we wrote about how Scandinavian style has become the fashion crowd’s most coveted aesthetic.

Like with anything on the internet, trends can often change and as we entered the colder months, we were introduced to the maximalist lifestyle. 

Maximalism involves embracing both quantity and quality. Layering and extravagance is a great way to express individuality and uniqueness and creator Sara Campz shows us exactly how to embrace being a maximalist. 

In the battle of minimalism and maximalism, which are you? 

Music and Dancing on TikTok 

TikTok keeps dominating the download charts and has become the platform in which up-and-coming artists are born. This year alone we saw Pink Pantheress soar through the charts after her discovery on TikTok. It has also become the platform for artists to preview their latest single and unexpectedly, it is now a tool for artists and music labels alike to discover new music. 

Just like the music we discover on the platform, TikTok has also become a discovery platform for dancers. Most of the time, when a song takes off on the platform, there is usually a dance challenge attached to it. 

We have seen the likes of Diversity’s Perri Keily create and take part in many dance challenges and his recent TikTok saw him dancing to a DJ remix of Coi Leroy’s latest single ‘Players’. We’ll have also seen the famous dancing duo Brooke and Jessie dominating our For You pages with their viral routines for songs such as Louis Theroux’s ‘jiggle jiggle’ or Meghan Trainor’s ‘Made you look’. Read more about Brooke and Jessie and the guide to getting your song TikTok viral in our Trendsetter piece

Twitch diversifies

Twitch as a platform is known for its live streaming services that are focused on video game live streaming and Esports competitions. This year, however, the app has seemingly grown and with that has been introduced to new audiences. 

Now, Twitch is no longer known as the gaming platform. Instead, it’s the platform where everyone and anyone can live stream their interests, whether it be cooking, baking and/or cultural commentary, you will find your audience on the growing platform. After all, ‘just chatting’ is one of the most popular categories on Twitch. 

Want to know more about how Twitch is diversifying, have a read on how French content creators used the platform to raise money for a great cause in a Trendsetters post here

Alicia Lartey

Clean and cold girl aesthetic 

From the clean girl aesthetic to the cold girl make-up look, this year we saw different beauty and fashion trends emerge as an ode to the early 2000s.

Many discussions have been had about the authenticity of some of the emerging trends, questioning their inclusivity and overall branding. Creator Alicia Lartey, for example, challenged the brown lip liner ‘trend’ on TikTok, taking to Refinery29 to write about why the ‘brownie glazed lip’ “doesn’t sit right with her”. 

Despite some controversies, there have been a few emerging trends that have encapsulated all. We saw #coastalgrandma gain over 269.6 million views, with creators such as Rachel Speed showing us how they style the trend.

Quiet Quitting vs 5-9 routine

This year, we were introduced to #quietquitting – a term encouraging people to renounce hustle culture and make more time for themselves. Many discussions were had to uncover the true meaning of the term and why it was so important amongst Gen Zers. Learn more on the topic in our Trendsetters piece

The topic of quiet quitting then birthed the 9-5 and 5-9 routine. With over 7 million views, we saw people sharing their post-work routine with the hashtag #my5to9. This trend looked to encourage people to take time for themselves after a long day’s work. On the surface, the trend is considered to be healthy as it promotes selfcare, however it also seems to be promoting hyperproductivity – encouraging you to be productive in your downtime. 

It is clear that Gen Zers are all looking to find ways to reclaim their power and encourage mental stability and despite some fall back, it is encouraging to see the future generation promoting mental health.

Cost of living crisis

The cost of living crisis has been a prevalent issue around the world this year and many discussions have been happening around influencer culture and their seemingly cash-rich lifestyles.

We have, however, also seen some creators pivot their content to be more in line with their audiences’ growing financial concerns. Creators have used their financial expertise to help their audience during this difficult time and, if you would like to see a more extensive list of creators sharing their best financial advice, head over to our Trendsetters piece highlighting creators using their platform for good in a time of need. 

The authentic app of the year: BeReal

BeReal was the surprise app of 2022. 

In the past, we’ve come across new apps looking to join the likes of TikTok and Instagram in ranking but every year a few fall short. In the peak of the pandemic, for example, we had Clubhouse and House Party – both created to keep us all engaged, entertained and connected. Sadly, we saw both apps fall through the cracks as we slowly returned to normality.

This year, with the conversation around Instagram changing and TikTok practically taking over our lives, we were introduced to BeReal. The app is about being in the moment and encourages users to be their real selves (read our Trendsetters post here). Many flocked to BeReal, making it a success and a clear competitor.

Cementing its status as a trend setter, in the last few months of 2022 we have seen TikTok introduce TikTok Now – a similar concept where users share a daily photo or video of themselves. Instagram is also introducing their own candid feature Dual which allows you to take a photo or video using both the front and back cameras simultaneously. 

As always, social media was anything but boring and this year we witnessed new and exciting trends taking place that encouraged more and more of us to get involved. As we look to 2023, we’re excited to see where trends go next – and we’ll be here to keep you updated and at the forefront every step of the way. 

Trendsetters: The rise of the Vox Pop

The street-style content taking over your FYP

By Nana Akosua Frimpong

Friday, 23rd of December 2022

A vox pop is a short video made up of clips taken from interviews with members of the public. The vox pop, which comes from Latin and translates to mean ‘voice of the people’, is often used to gather audience insights and opinions on any given subject – and will undoubtedly have been all over your For You page recently. With over 240 million views on TikTok and counting, the hashtag #voxpop has become one of the most popular trending content on the platform. 

A vox pop is known to be used in traditional journalism as a form of getting news from the ‘man on the street’, and can be used for numerous reasons such as testing public opinions, influencing decision-makers, stimulating public debates or promoting radio, TV or even newspapers. 

Creators such as Kofi McCalla have, however, demonstrated on their channel that vox pop or street-style interviews can be used purely for entertainment. In keeping with the style of content that is usually seen on TikTok, vox pops fit perfectly as they’re quick, engaging, occasionally educational but most importantly, entertaining.

Now, more and more creators are starting to adopt this style of content. It is becoming particularly popular within the lifestyle, beauty and fashion community. Creators like World Microphone Ldn travel all over the world asking people on the streets of London, Milan and even China about what they are wearing. 

‘What are you listening to?’ is one of the most popular forms of vox pop content, with creator Joshua Robinson aka Oshu Clips restyling the content to ask people on the streets: ‘what is your favourite song?’. 

Some brands have clearly seen the benefits of this short form interview style. A vox pop is an effective way of building brand awareness in an entertaining and informative manner, and allows brands to promote their product or service without having it feel like an #AD piece on the timeline. 

Branston is an excellent example of a brand utilising vox pop-style content to engage with its audience. They took their new product ‘brantonnaisse’ to the streets of Glasgow, London and Cardiff, asking people for their taste opinion. 

Burberry has even collaborated with creator Hunter Prosper on a series of content for the brand’s TikTok page. In a series called ‘Stories from a stranger’, Hunter interviews people on the streets, asking them life questions such as ‘who is your greatest love and why?’. The street style series has garnered an average of 3 million views on the brands’ page. 

Vox style, or better known as street interview, content is just as popular within the UK as it is within EMEA and across the pond in the US.

Parisian clothing store, Sézane, has been using vox-style content in the form of a challenge. They go around asking people on the streets of Paris, and most recently San Francisco, ‘Do you speak Sézane?’. After pronouncing a few easy French terms, participants receive ‘un cadeau’ (a gift).

Social creative agencies have also jumped on board the street style interview trend, with THE FIFTH taking to the office to interview colleagues.

Interestingly, creators are evolving the format of the vox pop, adding their own creative flair, and this is a trend that is likely to stay all through 2023. With different variations always forming, brands should utilise this trend by working with expert creators to maximise their brand awareness and engagement. 

Would you take part in a street style interview when stopped on the streets?

the guide to getting your song TikTok viral

Brooke and Jess are the not-so-secret duo behind new music success

By Laina Claydon

Friday, 9th of December 2022

We’ve all seen a TikTok dance go viral when a new song is released, but who creates them in the first place? 

More often than not, it’s the same duo behind a dance routine: Brooke and Jess aka BrookieandJessie

Wearing their trademark tracksuits and sunglasses, the pair have created many of the TikTok viral dances to your favourite songs. 

With 2 million followers on the short-form video platform, Brooke and Jess are the girls in glasses you need to know. 

Remember the ‘jiggle jiggle’ dance to the rap from Amelia Dimoldenberg’s Chicken Shop Date interview with Louis Theroux? That was them. It’s now been named the top US trend on TikTok’s fifth annual ‘Year on TikTok’ report for 2022.

Amelia even joined the girls to do the dance after it became a success. And if that’s not impressive enough for you, the dance became a feature on Fortnite. It also earned the girls a shoutout on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon when Shakira did the dance. 

The routine was created initially on Jess’ solo account before they set up their joint account and began making dance routines together.

Their success saw the duo employed by Netflix (and their 28.8M TikTok followers) to create a promotional dance video for season four of the sci-fi smash hit series Stranger Things and then First Kill.

More recently, Brooke and Jess danced to Meghan Trainor’s new single ‘Made You Look’. The video racked up more than 500K likes, and Meghan herself even made a video to the dance and tagged the pair with dance credits in the caption. The video has 3.7M likes.

When Lewis Capaldi made his music comeback earlier this year with ‘Forget You’, Brooke and Jess also helped the song grow on TikTok. The singer later joined them for a video but struggled to keep up with the dance routine and simply bopped along in the background. 

Their choreography took the platform by storm again when they danced to Lizzo’s song ‘2 Be Loved (Am I Ready)’. The girls posted some of the stars who recreated their dance to their Instagram page, and names included Lizzo herself, Dani Minogue, Jojo Siwa, Lorraine Kelly, and Stephen Mulhern.

But how did they start out?

“We were just messing around in our lounge”, the pair told Echo News. “I was making pasta at the time and Jess played the Jiggle Jiggle song and it was so catchy that we were bopping around to it. 

“We didn’t plan on dressing up or anything, so we put the glasses with the hoodies on, because we didn’t want to make an effort, and that seems to be our brand now”.

Brooke and Jess are both professional performers in musical theatre, have been in pantos, and are graduates of the Laine Theatre Arts in Epsom, Surrey.

And it’s not just TikTok that they’re big on, the duo also have an Instagram account, YouTube channel, and their very own merch line where they now sell the hoodies they are always wearing in their videos.

Another creator who has been influential in the TikTok dance world is Nifè aka @itsjustnifee who created the Love Nwantiti dance. 

Love Nwantiti is a song by Nigerian singer and songwriter CKay. 

Nifè’s sound to her original dance has racked up 642.3K videos being made to it and the video has 1.8 million likes. As a thank you to Nifè, CKay then brought the TikToker on tour with him. 

That’s not all she’s done. Nifè also choreographed the dance to Antigoni’s ‘You Can Have Him’ and was later featured in the music video.

TheLady aka @4ladycapri also made a viral dance to Camidoh, Mayorkun & Darkoo feat. King Promise’s Sugarcane and was later brought out on stage at Ghana Party In The Park which took place at Trent Park in Enfield. 

These are just a few examples of the amazing ways in which musicians give credit to the choreographers and creators who had a huge impact on a song’s success.

There are some artists, however, who are accused of creating a song or specific lyric just to go viral, as it usually results in high charting and more sales. 

Taylor Swift did it well when she released her latest album ‘Midnights’ and created the  #antiherochallenge to promote the leading single. 

Initially on YouTube Shorts, the trend was quickly picked up on TikTok which is commonplace when  something goes viral on one platform for it to quickly pick up traction on another. It’s since racked up 34.4M views on TikTok and ‘Anti Hero’ has been at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks running – so it’s safe to say this was a success.

The beauty of TikTok (and the randomness of its algorithm) means it’s not just new songs that trend. An old song can pop up and trend at any time and even Meghan Trainor herself couldn’t explain why her 2016 song ‘NO’ started trending recently, but she went with it! 

TikTok dances are no new thing and have been around since the app first launched, but it’s exciting to see the new and innovative ways in which artists and creators are collaborating – and that artists are making sure to give credit to those who coined the dance routine which helped make their song a success.

The live stream event Raising Millions for Charity

Z Event 2022 raised over €10 million

By Nana Akosua Frimpong

Friday, 14th of October 2022

Z Event is a gaming charity project organised every year since 2016 by well-known gaming creators Adrien Nougaret and Alexandre Dachary. Named after his online pseudonym ZeratoR, Adrien alongside Alexandre organises the annual Twitch event to bring together French streamers and players whilst raising money for charity. 

Streaming events are well-known and popular everywhere but what makes Z Event special is the unique format. The event takes place face-to-face with personalities invited by the pair and the public tune in remotely, watching live on Twitch via the player’s channels. The three-day marathon welcomes all types of streamers from around the world to participate in hilarious challenges, mentor new streamers and produce worthwhile content with the ultimate goal of connecting with each other and raising money.

Adrien and Alexandre, aka ZeratoR and Dach, unexpectedly started the Z Event in Adrien’s living room back in 2016 when they invited fifteen streamer friends over to join Belgian player Athene’s humanitarian battle call to raise funds in aid of Ethiopia’s famine crisis. That year, they raised 170,000. 

The success of the first unofficial event prompted Adrien and Alexandre to improvise and organise another the year after. The team grew to include well-known influencers in gaming such as Doigby, Mister MV and Sardoche, and they raised 500,000 for the French Red Cross.

Since the first unexpected and unpretentious event, Z Event has grown and consistently broken its previous donation record. In 2021, for example, they raised a whopping €10 million for Action Against Hunger.

With the help of 57 gaming personalities and over 50 hours of streaming, this year’s Z Event in September raised donations across five charity organisations – Time for the Planet, Sea Shepherd, The Bird Protection, WWF and the Sea Cleaners.

It started with a fun-filled musical concert featuring musical ensemble French Fuse, beatboxing crew Berywam, rapper Soprano and many more. The opening night also saw participants share their donation goal cards all across Twitter using the hashtag #ZEvent2022.

Streamers use donation goal cards to set challenges to complete when a donation goal is reached. This is tracked on the participants’ Twitch channel as they stream online. Viewers are then able to see when a goal is reached and watch the streamer complete their challenge. 

Streamer Ceb set a goal of coaching a viewer live on his channel when he reached a donation goal of $7,500, whilst another streamer pledged to send a picture of Lionel Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo Jr on Instagram when his donation goal reached €1,000,000.

Each participant created their own donation goal making it entertaining for viewers everywhere. 

Z Event is also known to attract well-known celebrities. On the second day of this year’s event, French streamer Etoiles invited TV host, actor and director Alain Chabat to host Z Event’s quiz game “Questions for the streamers: Burger Edition”.

Over the three-day action-packed marathon event, viewers tuned in to watch their favourite streamers’ Twitch channels, donate and join in on the fun. This year, Z Event raised €10.1 million with a massive upsurge in viewership. 

Every year, fans of the event look forward to joining the event, and it goes without saying that Z Event has become a staple in the French Twitch gaming community.

The event has not just become a big opportunity for streamers to grow their platform but to connect with their fans by showing their real and personable side – and fans can be active participants. 

Twitch is a platform that enables communities and Adrien and Alexandre have taken the opportunity to not only shed light on world issues through charitable donations, but to also grow a community where people can reach out and learn from their mentors. 

It has become evident that streamers love to challenge themselves and others and so we are likely to see more creator-led streaming events in the future. 

Will you be tuning into the next Twitch live stream or, like Z Event fans, are you eagerly awaiting the 2023 event that is sure to be even bigger and better than the last one? 

Check out the best of #ZEvent2022 on YouTube.

What is Quiet Quitting and will it last?

The latest trend to take over the workplace

By Bella Hales

Friday, 7th of October 2022

Quiet Quitting is the latest buzzword to emerge on TikTok in the past few months, exploding in America and quickly taking over Europe. Contrary to what it sounds like, it isn’t about quitting at all. Instead, it represents a rising trend where employees are actively embracing the traditional concept of ‘work-to-rule’ – but this time, as more of an antidote to relentless work expectations, long hours and post pandemic fatigue. Quiet Quitting builds on the emergence of a culture which embraces the work/life balance. 

The term was coined by American TikToker, Zaid Khan aka @Zaidleppelin, who posted a video in July 2022 after his job as a software engineer became all encompassing. In his post on TikTok, he encouraged people to renounce hustle culture and quit “the idea of going above and beyond”, arguing that you as an individual are worth more than just your labour and that “work is not your life”.

In a recent interview, he summarised the reasoning behind the movement, stating that “overworking only gets you so far. And like a lot of us have experienced in the past few years, mental and physical health really takes a backseat to productivity in a lot of these corporate environments.” This idea sure hit home, with his social media post being viewed by 3.5 million people.

It is no coincidence that this trend comes with the influx of Gen Z’s joining the corporate world. In a survey carried out by ResumeBuilder.com, 30% of people between the ages 25 and 34 said that within their workplace, they are doing the bare minimum, which is in stark contrast to 8% of workers who are over 54 years of age. This indicates that the younger generation are more inclined to take a step back and remove themselves from certain responsibilities.  

It is also clear that the pandemic has changed people’s attitude towards work. An associate professor at the University of Nottingham, Maria Kordowicz, told the Guardian that the rise in Quiet Quitting is linked to a noticeable fall in job satisfaction. She stated “the search for meaning has become far more apparent. There was a sense of our own mortality during the pandemic, something quite existential around people thinking ‘What should work mean for me? How can I do a role that’s more aligned to my values?”.

This heightened sense of self and ability to challenge previously accepted norms is part of the work revolution, where there is a growing confidence that it is good to look after yourself and work life balance is healthy. Quiet Quitting normalises this mindset; it’s not aggressive, but is a clear antithesis to the ‘work every hour you can’ ethos.

But this idea of covert action is not necessarily healthy – both for employees or employers. Stepping aside from certain responsibilities without conversation can create an atmosphere of distrust and secrecy. It would be far more beneficial for employees to be able to have an open dialogue with their employers so that they can create a better working environment and there be greater opportunities for change.

Crucially and undeniably, the role a job plays in our lives has shifted. It means the ways in which we are working – and where we are working from – are changing. And though the pandemic might have been the catalyst for the Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting, this isn’t something that started with the COVID crisis. These feelings of dissatisfaction in the workplace were there already, the pandemic simply acted as an accelerant. Now, employees are prioritising workplaces that cater more to their needs and offer a better work/life balance. Instead, things like flexible hybrid working, ensuring you take lunch breaks and frank discussions about burnout and mental health are seen as the tent poles to a good working environment – and that’s definitely a good thing and one we encourage.

Social media has allowed employees to take matters into their own hands, but with the cost of living and major recession, these trends may well be slowed down – and the quiet confidence that allowed employees to Quiet Quit could be halted altogether.

Trendsetters: Scandinavian Fashion

Where Sustainability meets Style

By Milan Charles

Friday, 30th of September 2022

Scandinavian style has become the fashion crowd’s most coveted aesthetic. With brands like Arket and Ganni growing in popularity, the Scandinavian look breaks away from the glitz and glamour of fast fashion and leans into a slower, more attainable, and most importantly sustainable lifestyle.

This is nothing new. Scandinavian lifestyle trends have been all the rage for years, and if you’ve been scrolling through Instagram, you’ll see many are doing their best to replicate them in their wardrobes and homes. 

Capturing the unique characteristics that Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland have in common, the Scandinavian style is about far more than just aesthetics. It’s a philosophy encompassing art, furniture and interior design, mindset, attitude, lifestyle and cultural norms. 

Looking to adopt the Scandinavian style yourself? Here, we share some guidelines for you to live by:

Sustainable and Ethical Fashion Choices

Scandi fashion goes beyond aesthetics to promote sustainable and ethical living by removing what’s not necessary and focusing on what’s left – as well as higher quality and longer-lasting items. Finnish fashionista, Sandra Emeliah, adds her own personal touch to Scandinavian fashion by finding staple items second-hand and championing slow fashion.

Everything Must Go With Everything

The idea behind the Scandi style is that everything must go with everything. You can play with textures, but mainly within a neutral colour palette. Characterised by functionality and minimalism, Nordic clothing mixes high-quality solid fabrics with sleek accessories and elegant details creating a look that is both casual and stylish at the same time. Check out Phalguni, from Sweden, for ultimate neutral fashion inspo.

Comfort First

The Scandinavian design aims to improve people’s lives under the modernist mantra “form follows function”. To achieve the ultimate state of cosiness, most Scandinavian clothing breaks the confinements of form-fitting shapes. In Copenhagen, Maria Jonsson marries style and comfort perfectly – often spotted in airy fabrics and loose-fitting silhouettes, her wardrobe embodies this mantra. 

Building a Capsule Collection – Items that are High Quality and Long-lasting

The typical Nordic wardrobe is not about what’s trendy and completely about what’s timeless with simple and classic clean-cut lines. For instance, you’ll rarely see Scandinavians wear T-shirts with flashy logos or extreme embellishments. Instead, the style opts for long-lasting items, basics and tailored pieces that you can repurpose throughout the seasons for many years to come. Swedish content creator and healthcare worker Lydia Tsegay has been building her Scandi-inspired capsule collection over the years. Her ethos is “personal style, not fashion” truly embodies the Scandi way.

Genderless Clothing 

The Scandinavian fashion industry challenges gender stereotypes, with many brands opting for a more fluid approach to style. Nordic countries have maybe the most inclusive cultures, with the dress code being one of the many ways in which they demonstrate this to the world. The Scandi street style tends to feature androgynous silhouettes or outfits consisting of both masculine and feminine items. William from Norway and Emelie from Sweden could most likely share a wardrobe, leaning heavily into genderless street style with a heavy Scandinavian influence. 

So, what do you think – could you adopt a Scandinavian wardrobe? If you’re still in need of a little inspiration, check out these content creators:

Nicole, Stockholm

Anna Sofia, Stockholm

Elin Wahlberg, Sweden 

Greta Urban, Sweden

Selina, Denmark

Austeja, Norway 

Dina Hansen, Norway

Shuffles: Pinterest’s worst kept secret

The new collage-making app that is already trending everywhere

By Laina Claydon

Friday, 16th of September 2022

Shuffles by Pinterest is a new app designed for collective collaging. You can ‘unleash your creative energy’ and build your own aesthetic scrapbook-esque mood board using photos from Pinterest’s library or photos you’ve taken yourself.

Soon after it was released, Shuffles managed to have its own trend on TikTok, where these “aestheticcollages were then set to music and posted. This helped create a buzz around the app and is also where a lot of people found out it wasn’t as easy as just popping into the AppStore to download it. 

Interestingly, Pinterest decided to go down the ‘invite only’ route with Shuffles. If you’re lucky enough to receive a code from somebody who already has the app then you can download it and share a code with five others. If they’re too late and your five exclusive codes have already been used up, they’ll receive a ‘we’ve reached the limit for this invite code’ message.

Understandably, this exclusivity tactic has led to more of a buzz around the app and created FOMO for those that can’t get a code. When something seems limited, time-sensitive or exclusive, it only makes you want it more, however this strategy doesn’t always work. Clubhouse, for example, launched with a similar technique but hasn’t been able to sustain its popularity since. It does, though, give Shuffles more time to fix any bugs that emerge and make changes to the app before it’s available to the masses. Pinterest was originally released in this format back in 2012, and there are already TikTok accounts dedicated to Shuffles such as @pinterestshuffles_ and @pinterestshuffles.x whose only posts include giving out codes for others to get on the app. It’s like a secret club!

Admittedly, this is an interesting marketing strategy from Pinterest. Last year they introduced an in-house team, called TwoTwenty, whose sole focus is to grow the user base through innovation, and they are the same people who released this app. It’s safe to say that this was a success as Shuffles has already spent time as the No.1 Lifestyle app in the US App Store. There are even videos on TikTok showing users how to create their very own Shuffles and people sharing their love of the app

On Shuffles, users can choose to add effects and motion to the images to make them shake, spin, pulse, swivel and more. You could, for instance, add an image of a record player and then animate it so that it actually spins. Other cool features include being able to ‘reshuffle’ someone else’s Shuffles, meaning you can take another user’s design and customise it to make it your own.

Like with any other trend or creation, once something is popular on one platform, it then spreads across others in similar forms. We aren’t, for example, just seeing this collage content on Shuffles anymore. TikTok users are already jumping on it and calling it the ‘collage trend’, and people are using apps such as Canva, Capcut, and Magic Eraser to create that similar ‘cut-out’ style and put it to music on the platform.

Shuffles is also very similar to a new iOS 16 feature from Apple. Here, you can effortlessly crop an object from one of your photos and then paste that cutout anywhere you choose – like in an iMessage chat. You only need to touch and hold to lift the image away from the background. Cool, right? This style of content is also becoming more common on Instagram ‘Reels’.

Even since beginning writing this article, Tiktok has now created a filter to give a very similar ‘cut-out’ effect which feels eerily familiar.

Shuffles is targeting a younger demographic that’s using social media in a new way: for self-expression, not just networking. Why the app is resonating with Gen Z seems to be a combination of the technology it uses to simplify collage-making, coincided with the desire for creative expression tools that serve that demographics’ social habits.

The app also opens up new social commerce opportunities. The objects in users’ collages, for example, are linked to Pinterest and a tap will bring you to a dedicated page for the item in question. In the case of items that are available for purchase — like fall fashion or home decor, for instance — users could also buy the item by clicking through to the retailer’s website.

Shuffles has provided users with a great way to get creative and people are using this app for a variety of reasons, from creating their dream outfit to their dream home. It might even be the new platform to create memes such as this beauty. And despite its soft launch, Shuffles is currently placed number 21 in the lifestyle section of the UK AppStore. Will it fall out of popularity, or will it continue to rise as more users are allowed access to the platform? Only time will tell.

NEW GENERATION OF MUSIC  SAMPLING

modern day tribute to our favourite guilty pleasures

By Nana Akosua Frimpong

Monday, 12th of September 2022

TikTok has proven itself as the go-to place for discovering new music. We have seen songs that trend on the app go on to top the Billboard charts, and it’s become evident that TikTok has been at the forefront of generating new trends – as well as reintroducing old ones. With the app’s continuous push of music from challenges to TikTok-specific sounds, there has been a surge in old songs being sampled on new tracks. 

Music sampling is nothing new. The concept first originated in the early 70s and is a technique popularised in hip hop which saw up-and-coming producers take a section of a completed or uncompleted track and repurpose it to make it fresh. 

Over the years, more and more producers have learned to splice and reuse old tracks to create their musical pieces. Some have even perfected the art by adding their unique signature to blend and piece different tracks together. Kanye West is a great example of a producer who puts his signature on the art of sampling.

In our current digital age, with computer-based workflow used in creating music, the ethics of sampling and fair use is a topic that is greatly debated even before the involvement of technology. But as we have heard from popular artists such as Doja Cat, Drake and many more, musicians are much more lenient towards sampling usage now than when it first came about.

Currently, UK artists have a bit of an obsession with sampling 00s pop songs. In recent months, we’ve heard homegrown rappers jump on beats that lift heavily from old-school garage songs to Eurodance hits. Brighton-born new age rap artist Ardee, featuring Digga D, leaned on rapping over a heavy sample of T2’s bassline classic Heartbroken, and Tion Wayne’s drill version of La Roux’s ‘In For The Kill’ saw him chart in the UK Top 10. 

Turn of the century hip hop and Rnb are also fair game, as Digga D’s latest mixtape pays homage to 50 Cent with three reworks of his tracks. 

Based on the definition of sample music, some of these samples may not adequately fit the term. Many can be categorised as a cover version rather than a meticulous and creative music production. Irrespective of this, the UK sampling trend has escalated to the point that it is being credited as a sub-genre called ‘sample drill’.

The trend is indicative of fans’ interest. The nostalgic-yet-modern sound has meant new audiences have been introduced to old sounds. The trend of sample music banks on the cultural mainstay of guilty pleasures with some new music becoming a guilty pleasure of their own. 

TikTok creators such as Jarred Jermaine and Doc Boj are an example of people who not only educate their followers on new singles with sample tracks but also cherish the guilty pleasure aspect of them. Creator Lua Lua has a YouTube channel dedicated to reviewing music – including reviews on sample music. 

Sampling has grown and developed since its inception and with the help of the internet, it has streamlined the process making it more accessible as an educational tool for artists and music fans. While some sample music can be used in poor taste or isn’t utilised to the best of its ability, it has always been about paying homage to the artist and producers. 

With ‘sample drill’ being indicative of the new era of sampling, it’s also about the nostalgic memory of being a teen in the 2000s and going to dance raves, updating your MySpace account and pairing up your Bluetooth on your Sony Ericsson to be able to share the latest single streamed late at night on LimeWire.

With all that being said, all trends have an expiry date but the more intriguing question is: what guilty pleasure song from the 2000s wouldn’t you mind being sampled and which artist would you want to see jump on the track?

How authentic is bereal, really?

the ‘anti-instagram’ photo-sharing app everybody is talking about

By Bella Hales

Friday, 26 of August 2022

Recently, it appears Instagram’s day of being ahead of the curve has approached its end. Celebrities like the Jenner/Kardashian clan have become increasingly publicly disinterested with the app as a result of its TikTok-esque changes, and it seems that social media has been calling for something innovative and fresh to change things up for a while.

BeReal, a photo-sharing app that has now famously been dubbed ‘anti-Instagram’, was created by French founders Alexis Barreyat and Kévin Perreau and designed to encourage users to be their real selves.

Want to know how it works?

Once a day at any given time, users receive a ‘warning’ notification indicating that it is ‘time to BeReal’. A 2-minute window is then offered to take your photo, using both your rear and front camera. Once you’ve shared your snap-of-the-day, you are then allowed access to your newsfeed, displaying everything your friends are doing in that same timeframe. Users can add captions and interact with friends’ posts through comments and RealMojis (emojis in the form of a selfie). Your feed only updates itself once a day, with all uploads expiring when the next notification is sent out, and only you are allowed to look at your past posts – which is very resemblant of the ephemeral nature of Snapchat. 

The restraints of only being able to post once a day poses us with less reason to aimlessly scroll; you only need to check the app once or twice a day to stay updated which is undoubtedly a lot less time that avid social media users spend on the likes of Instagram and TikTok. Importantly, BeReal provides no filters, means of editing and notably, you cannot track metrics like followers and likes, thus removing the widely criticised social performance pressures that Instagram has been accused of catalysing. 

With this philosophy in mind, it is clear that BeReal has made a great attempt at filling the void between social media and authentic reality. 

But how authentic is it?

@bee.austin matty healy didnt kniw what a bereal was #mattyhealy #the1975 ♬ pass the dutchie sped up - vevonix

Whilst BeReal does provide guidelines on how to best utilise the app, these are very malleable. Despite the two-minute time frame, you can still post any time after the notification, with the only consequence being that your friends get a notification to say you posted late. As a result, users are able to wait until they are looking their best, or doing something they feel is more ‘fun’ or showcase worthy to their friends. Ultimately, this fluidity of the app’s rules, defeats its own mission to shun social performativity.

The emphasis on only being able to take unfiltered and untouched images of oneself is certainly one of the most true features to the app’s core vision, but it does come into paradox with itself when highlighting the fact that users can take unlimited retakes of their photos. Surely this encourages the same rose-tinted reality posed online that Instagram does?

Undoubtedly, BeReal has set a new precedent – a unique, new way of online photo-sharing. But as they have blurred their values with those of the more traditional apps, so have their users. BeReal snaps are now also making their way onto the mainstream channels, in an attempt from creators to cement their social status, centre-staging aspects of their ‘mundane’ livelihoods. 

Examples of this can be seen on influencer and celebrity channels including the likes of Chloe Frater and Tyler the Creator. These are just two of the famous figures including BeReals in their photo-dumps. Mashable’s Elena Cavender has seemingly rightedly coined that BeReals are the new selfie”. In her eyes, this makes the app “now just another way to commodify your life.” 

It’s not only Instagram that’s had BeReal creep into its feed, multiple TikTok users’ for-you-pages have been bombarded with young girls attempting to get celebrities to feature in their snaps, such as Bee Austin, posting her BeReal with the 1975’s Matt Healy which has garnered 546k views to date.

Despite the numerous arguments to be made against the platform, its fundamentals are in the right place and it is clear that the principle is founded upon good intention. Nonetheless, it has not yet achieved the ultimate goal of online authenticity and is still offering a social platform with the means to contrast and compare with peers. 

My takeaway from this: do I think that BeReal has been a positive force in social media? Yes (regardless of the ‘buts’). Will I keep using it? Absolutely.

Clean Beauty Aesthetic

the lifestyle trend that has over 300 million views on tiktok

By Nana Frimpong

Wednesday, 10th of August 2022

#CleanGirlAesthetic is the latest lifestyle trend taking over TikTok, with over 300 million views. #CleanMakeup even has 400million views on the platform. 

Both hashtags showcase natural or minimal makeup looks that creators like Tasha Green are known for and according to creators like Geena Hunt, to achieve the ‘clean girl’ look you only need tinted moisturiser, light concealer, eyebrow pomade, lip balm, tints and oils. It sounds simple and achievable, but is it?

As you scroll through the hashtag, you’ll notice that #CleanGirlAesthetic is not just about makeup – it covers all things lifestyle and having the perfect organised life. You may also notice one common anomaly under #CleanMakeup and that is that most, if not all, of the advocates of this beauty trend seem to have poreless, clear skin. 

Like with any trend, there is always the question of appropriateness and inclusivity. With the premise of the #CleanGirlAesthetic being about slicked-back hair, minimal makeup over glossy, buttery skin and gold hoop earrings, some creators have questioned how the trend caters to those with acne and hyperpigmentation.

Others have even come forward to critique the choice of wording. On first look, the term “Clean Girl” alone represents those with clear glossy skin and perfectly placed hair, suggesting that those with blemishes, texturised skin and untamed hair are ‘dirty’. Creators such as Uche Natori went as far as to tweet that the beauty trend is ‘anti-black’ as Black girls need “coverage and structure”.

TikTok creator Katouche Goll explained further that the “clean girl look relies on prerequisite terms of how you are supposed to look”, which vilifies those who fail to meet those terms. It further asserts that people who don’t fall into this westernised beauty standard are not worthy of being celebrated. 

Beauty influencers like Rikki Sandhu and Izzie Rodgers, however, are championing and reimagining the so-called ‘clean girl make-up’ and ‘clean girl’ aesthetic. 

And it is worth celebrating those taking the trend in the right direction. 

Creators I am Dodo and Neenz have also taken the opportunity to adapt the trend to fit their own aesthetical needs with the creation of #cleangirlaestheticblackgirl and #cleanmakeupforblackgirls. These hashtags were created to allow accessibility for Black creators to join a popular trend – and therefore show that it can be inclusive too.

Taking into consideration what it takes to achieve the ‘clean girl’ look – with everything from facials, brow tints, lash lifts and more to good lighting and filters – it begs the question: do you have perfect skin or did you buy it?

We often need to remind ourselves that some of the beauty videos and pictures we come across on social media have a cleverly-used lighting trick, a natural-looking pre-set filter or in some cases permanently purchased tweaks.

With more and more people embracing no-makeup and wellness trends, it has therefore been exciting to see people embracing their authentic selves. And with the rise of BeReal encouraging no-filter photos, it’s intriguing to see how it may change our view on beauty standards in the future. 

Gen Z audiences prefer authenticity over everything and have found a home on TikTok where they can truly be themselves. On the app, there is everything from the #CleanGirlAesthetic to relatable and accessible beauty content. And they both live side-by-side in a way that doesn’t seem to exist on other platforms. 

By embracing TikTok, Gen Z has made the platform their very own news and trends source, which makes it even more exciting to keep up with the next beauty trend that emerges on there. What do you think it will be?