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The Young Men’s Style Council of TikTok

TikTok is an insatiable platform, and men’s fashion content abounds, much of it entry-level: style tutorials, product recommendations, video listicles and endless, endless amounts of fit pics, or fit videos, or videos of fit pics. There are established models, and models, like Wisdom Kaye (@wisdm8), who got their start by posting on TikTok.

This niche of creators shares its own interests and language, though. They good-naturedly mock one another, poking fun at signature shticks. They uniformly roll their eyes at certain garments, like Comme des Garçons Play heart logo sneakers (“Heart shoe bad”). They debate the ethics of replica sneakers, or whether you can ever wear a jacket any way but open.

Sometimes they’ll unearth an unlikely hero garment: Wrangler Wrancher dress jeans, Cookman chef’s pants, an empty tote bag. Occasionally, using the app’s duet feature, a whole daisy chain of men will try out the same outfit tweak — sometimes sincerely (adding a tote bag to a look), sometimes wryly (wearing a tank top and simple pants).

Many of these creators have built an impromptu community off the app, too: Mr. Martinez started a groupchat on Instagram that now includes Mr. Boutilier, Mr. Bolduc and a dozen or so other TikTok fashion creators. The scene also has a native podcast, Pair of Kings, which routinely features the main players. Mr. Martinez recently posted a video of him slapping one of Mr. Boutilier’s stickers on a Fairfax Avenue storefront in Los Angeles, a gesture of cross-country good will.

This microscene is small and still pulses below the radar of most major fashion companies. Only in the last few weeks have some members been seeded with free product from brands, a familiar benchmark of influencer clout. But TikTok is still broadly viewed as an app for teenagers, and many established companies, deaf to the medium’s internal rhythms and in-jokes, still flail in figuring out how to present themselves there. (The awkward Ssense TikTok is a recurring joke among these fashion TikTokers.) And many of these creators aspire to something more noble, and less gratuitous, than pure attention and scale.

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