According to Business of Fashion, trying to make sense in a recent interesting article of how hypes go viral, “the trends that catch fire and stay relevant are often tied to pop culture”. In the article, author Joan Kennedy analyses, among others, #Barbiecore and #Quietluxury, comparing their mentions on TikTok in time and the sales of related products, following their respective hype curves.

Viral trends are a useful marketing vehicle for brands and retailers, that’s the point of Business of Fashion, and the urge to understand more about them is vital to the business. How the trends are born today, and specifically if they are generated by fashion designers trickling down to mass conversations, or the other way around generated by influencers going up to consumer products, has become a shapeless critical point, despite the growing hearing of social conversations, in search of those common patterns which allow to understand and forecast the dynamic and magnitude of hypes.

In this analysis, “Quiet Luxury”’ mentions – a hype mainly referred to HBO series Succession – are noted as booming in the last months, a higher number of mentions compared to “Barbiecore”, whose social temperature has grown steadily since May 2022, when the trailer of Warner Bros. Barbie the Movie launched officially. 

One of the points Business of Fashion makes in the article is that, according to buyers, it seems that sales of “Quiet Luxury” – inspired items –  understated items of non logoed, high quality luxury apparel and accessories ranges- don’t follow the growing mentions on Tik Tok, while many retailers and brands have launched Barbie the Movie collaborative products, which added to the non-licensed but inspired to this maximalist colourful trend. 

The direct relationship between Barbie as the global icon, in the execution of Barbiecore items, versus the simple inspiration to “Quiet Luxury” style (moreover a classic at least in department stores and higher tier retailer), is the key differentiation point in the comparison of the two trends, which clearly explains the unsensitivity of the Quiet Luxury sales to its growing hype.

It is likewise clear that a strong and direct association with the most popular culture references, especially when an event like such a blockbuster is planned, is an ingredient for incremental sales, as one of the golden rules of many licensed collaborations proves successful.

So, at least from our branding advisors’ standpoint, the major takeaway is that if TikTok may be ineffective to sales of products inspired to the viral trends it generates, retailers and brands should probably get past it, and concentrate on following the popular culture driven trends, adding diverse pop ingredients to their product range, frequently, and within a well targeted and precisely defined strategy based on brand values.