The Feed: #ManRepeller TikToks, AI turning film to vertical video, and the rise of #PerfumeTok
In August, The Feed covered the latest trends on social, including creators turning film into video using AI, #ManRepeller TikToks reframing fashion for the female gaze and #PerfumeTok giving fragrance a new visual language. Dive into the August roundup to find out what they all mean and why they took over social.
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Creators are using AI to turn nostalgic film classics into vertical video
On TikTok, creators like @artstuffandthings and @walidfatam are reimagining iconic and nostalgic cinema – originally filmed in traditional horizontal format – for the vertical screen. Under the hashtag #verticalmovies (43.1M views), these creators use AI to fill out the image, reformatting scenes to take up a whole vertical phone screen – and despite it just being a format tweak with no ‘new’ content made, the response on social has been emotional. “You made me cry again like I was watching it for the first time” says one user; “I need more vertical movies in my life” says another. A broad fanbase is following along, requesting adaptations of their own favourite films in this modern format.
By using AI to bring old fan favourites into the choice format of today’s media consumption, #verticalmovies is easing digital culture’s tension between past and future. In a social media landscape that’s caught between nostalgia for the past, and tech catapulting us into the future, these videos resonate because they’re leveraging future-tech to preserve (and get people closer to) the treasured parts of the past.
For brands engaging with new, paradigm-shifting technology (like creative AI or web3 tech), there’s emotional resonance in using these future-coded tools to celebrating the past, history, and nostalgia.
#ManRepeller TikToks are reframing fashion for the female gaze
Years ago, Man Repeller was a fashion blogger known for inviting women to swap man-approved stilettos and tight dresses for outfits catering to the female gaze. Now, TikTok has revived the #ManRepeller hashtag as a space where women document their favourite fashion choices that are ‘not for men’. These outfits – some purposely ill-fitting, others shapeless, ugly or intentionally ‘unsexy’ – are celebrated specifically for their lack of appeal to the male gaze. Some videos even proudly overlay critical comments or sound clips from men (eg. ‘the worst female fashion is those mom jeans that are MASSIVE 🤢’), or flaunt the trends and aesthetics men are known to hate.
On the surface, the fashion industry no longer frames products purely in terms of how women’s bodies can appeal to men. But the residue of that legacy still pervades – much of today’s pop cultural discourse about women’s style has undertones of male-centric critique, whether that’s Sofia Richie being accused of ‘chasing a husband’ or Billie Eilish being called a ‘sellout’ for choosing to wear more revealing clothes. #ManRepeller content is no silver bullet – many of the bodies pictured are still classically hot, and stick to prescriptive ideas of who qualifies as a ‘woman’. But it does point to a cultural need and user-led response: an attempt to find a women-led language that prevents male desire from framing the narrative.
The success of #manrepeller shows that, for any brands speaking to women (within fashion and beyond), there’s a demand for brand narratives that pivot away from how women will be *perceived*, and towards how they can *express themselves*.
#PerfumeTok is giving fragrance a new visual language
TikTokers have become obsessed with fragrance, from the old money whiff of Baccarat 540 to the #coconutgirl favourite Sol de Janeiro 68. They’re finding and sharing their recommendations across #PerfumeTikTok and #PerfumeTok, which together have amassed over 8 billion views. There, they rarely talk about what the fragrances actually smell like, and they avoid coded language that requires industry knowledge (like ‘notes’, ‘compositions’, and ‘dry down’). Instead they rely on the distinct *vibe* the perfumes embody. Using Pinterest-style images and nods to trending aesthetics, they’re giving the fragrance industry a new language that digital natives can easily understand.
For years, fragrance campaigns have lacked inspiration. By focusing on the formal, gatekept language of scent, they appealed to an older, wealthier lot – those already well-versed in fragrance vocabulary. But now, by adopting the visual language of social media, the world of fragrance feels less daunting for younger people – instead of navigating the technicalities of top notes and background notes, they can simply pick the vibe of fragrance that appeals to their personality, aesthetic, or aura (whether that’s their current aura, or an aspirational one).
PerfumeTok is a case study into the value of brands learning to speak the language of social to shift generational appeal. Especially for categories with a lofty or daunting history and heritage, the newer, more visual languages of platforms like TikTok can help people ramp on.