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Style Points is a weekly column about how fashion intersects with the wider world.
What is balletcore? What does “gilded glamour,” the theme of the recent Met Gala, mean? Which menswear brands are sustainable? Is Lizzo’s new line of shapewear worth trying?
These are all questions the TikTok-only fashion publication Rag Report is attempting to answer. Launched last year, Rag Report, which does not have a landing page or web component but does have 1.6 million followers, is part breathlessly worded explainers and introductions to new designers, and part zoomer swap meet.
Under the umbrella of Gen Z media company Kyra Digital, Rag Report has become an authority by, counterintuitively enough, not purporting to be an authority. “The inception of it was to be a source for Gen Z fashion content, but not in the sense where [we’re] the know-it-alls of the space,” explains Courtney Neal, Kyra Digital’s editor-in-chief. The aim was to create a balance between being “a credible source, but also a source for people to contribute.” Via call-to-action videos, a pitch portal, and a stable of contributors, Rag Report somehow found a way to “create a lane for [readers] to feel like they are a part of this too, because that’s innately what TikTok is. It’s a platform for creators. It’s not conceptualized to be a platform for publishers.”
Still, publish it does. And the way Neal and her colleagues think about the publication is more rooted in tradition than you might think. As a millennial who grew up with teen magazines, Neal says, there were “certain buckets of things that I looked forward to every month,” whether it was an advice column or people writing in with their stories. She strives for that effect with regular features, like explainer videos (“it really is boundless, what you can explain in fashion.”) There’s also the opportunity for instant feedback—the menswear and sustainability-themed video was made in response to a comment on a sustainable fashion post, asking about menswear brands. “Our audience loves to see themselves represented in our content,” she says. “Seeing their own comments responded to makes them feel heard.” A recent video highlighting crocheters on TikTok brought a flurry of excited comments from those featured. “They get excited because they’re small business owners or they’re just crafting within their own little bubbles. They start to share and tag, and the next thing you know, our audience grows organically.”
Gen Z is, of course, simultaneously passionate about the environment and one of the biggest consumers of fast fashion. Neal summarizes the publication’s approach to all things eco as “keeping it real.” While she believes no one can be 100 percent sustainable, she feels that it’s something that “being a fashion publication, we do have a responsibility to talk about.” Whether it’s greenwashing or fashion’s ongoing diversity and inclusion conversation, “we have to talk about those things. We have to have those difficult conversations and open that dialogue. And we have seen that when we do that, in our comment section, people have dialogue [among] themselves.” Sometimes that also means not shying away from, say, a video explicitly criticizing a fast fashion brand’s environmental toll: “As a publication, we stand on who we are. This is our tone of voice, and we’re not going to bend or change to make a brand happy.”
This season, the publication partnered with TikTok for fashion month, creating videos about, for example, the history of self-expression (which was the platform’s fashion month theme this past season), highlighting lesser-known designers. “Of course the pop culture stuff, the Kanye stuff, the Kim stuff, that grabs eyes,” Neal acknowledges. “We put Pete Davidson on something and it goes crazy because that’s just what’s trending. But the strategy is to mix it in….We don’t want to go all the way pop culture just because we know that works.” During Fashion Week, “we did this post about shows that didn’t get press, shows you might have missed because they didn’t get the headlines, the big writeup or the big picture on the cover page, but they were still great.” Another topic that has been unexpectedly engaging for Rag Report’s followers: the crossover between fashion and mental health. Working with Kyra’s mental health channel, Glia, it has produced videos on topics like “dopamine dressing.”
The future of Rag Report might not be confined to the For You page. Neal says the publication is planning to experiment with longer-form documentary-style videos, now that TikTok allows 10-minute run times. It will be holding a TikTok-based competition for up-and-coming designers. But it’s also making IRL moves, looking into doing in-person events and swap meets. “COVID willing,” she says. “Our whole point is community building, so we want to activate in different cities and give these creators and designers a chance to interact with each other in real life.”
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