From Harry Styles To Taylor Swift: Why Are Cardigans Trending On TikTok?

Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images.
By now, it’s no secret that Harry Styles has influence over our style, whether you’re a member of his very dedicated fanbase or not. (His ability to make pearl necklaces cool again is proof of that.) So, when he — the unofficial king of Gen Z (despite being a Millennial) — chose to wear a rainbow patchwork cardigan by JW Anderson on the TODAY show, it was only a matter of time before the knit made its way to Gen Z’s go-to social media platform TikTok. Add to that the fact that handknit cardigans fit in perfectly with the app’s booming cottagecore and craftcore trends, and love for DIY, and it's really not surprising that the cardigan went viral. 
Advertisement
Following the former One Directioner's appearance, TikTok user and Harry Styles mega-fan Olivia Strong (known to her followers as stream.walls.28) “immediately fell in love,” she tells us. “I am just an 18-year-old girl, not a famous pop star, so I didn’t have almost $2,000 to spend on a cardigan.” Strong decided to craft a lookalike of her own: “Coincidentally, I had just picked up knitting again, and with the stay-at-home orders still in place, I was looking for something to keep me occupied.” That was in early June. “I remember looking on TikTok and YouTube to see if anybody else had made one so that I would be able to have some sort of direction, but at that time, I couldn’t find anybody that had attempted making it themselves yet.
A month later — after thousands of other TikTok users who, like Strong, wanted a Styles-approved patchwork cardigan of their own, decided to knit renditions of the sweater DIY-style — designer Jonathan Anderson released the official pattern to the public. “I am so impressed and incredibly humbled by this trend and everyone knitting the cardigan,” Anderson wrote on Instagram in early July. “I really wanted to show our appreciation so we are sharing the pattern with everyone. Keep it up!” Currently, TikTok’s #HarryStylesCardigan has 17.8 million views and counting. 
In the two months since Anderson's release, other cardigans have found their way to TikTok’s hall of fame. Users are reenacting scenes from Big Little Lies while clutching their cardigans like the Monterey Five held each other during the HBO hit show’s second season. In a similar vein, people have taken to dramatically pulling cardigans shut while pretending to be divorcees (sometimes with the Big Little Lies theme song “Cold Little Heart” by Michael Kiwanuka playing in the background).
Advertisement
“The essence of TikTok is being a copycat platform,” Brian Mandler, the co-founder of TikTok ad agency, The Network Effect, told Vogue Business. “Users do not get bored seeing multiple versions of one trend, unlike audiences on other social platforms.” Because of this, all of these TikTok trends have hundreds of thousands of remakes, making them impossible to avoid (not that we want to) when scrolling through the app’s seemingly endless feed of video content. 
When Taylor Swift released the music video for her eighth album Folklore’s first single, a song called “Cardigan,” the silhouette once again peaked in popularity. This was for several reasons. For starters, one of TikTok’s most notable stars Dixie D’Amelio (the sister of Charli D’Amelio, TikTok’s most-followed account, according to Statista) was spotted wearing the cable knit cardigan that Swift released as merch for the album. And she wasn’t alone. According to Billboard, Swift sent the same cardigan to about a dozen other TikTok stars, including Jayden Bartels and Kelsea Ballerini
The release of “Cardigan” also brought back a hoard of Taylor Swift and Harry Styles mega fans, known as “Haylors,” who spent the weeks following the July album drop sharing their theories about how the single’s video was similar to Styles’ “Falling,” and how the two serve as an unspoken dialogue between the artists. (Surprise, surprise, most of the theories were shared by users wearing cardigans.) Of the similarity between the two videos, Strong says that “as a Harry fan, it is hard to deny. When I first watched the ‘Cardigan’ video, my mind immediately jumped to the ‘Falling’ video.” Unlike most Haylors, though, Strong isn’t convinced it was intentional. “Although I wish that there was some sort of strong connection between the two videos, I just don’t see how likely that actually is,” she says. Regardless, the intricate theories made waves all over TikTok, keeping the cardigan trend alive. 
Swift and Styles aside, cardigans continue to populate on the app, be it in the form of Goodwill thrift hauls, upcycling and DIY videos, how-to-wears, or reels of people walking from one room to the next repeating the phrase, “I don’t need a cardigan to be pretty,” before exclaiming at the last second that “it looks better anyway.” And, with no signs of cottagecore and craftcore slowing down, this handknit flame is not about to die anytime soon. So whether you’re a Haylor in need of something to fill your free time or just someone craving the comforts of a handmade cardigan, there’s no better time than now to jump aboard this ever-changing (and growing) TikTok craze. And with quarantine likely to continue well into the chillier months, why not also craft yours #HarryStylesCardigan style? The pattern, after all, is ready and waiting.