For music’s biggest icons, Ticketmaster fiascos and dodging random stuff thrown their way while they’re jamming on stage aren’t the only signs of how modern concert culture has changed since the pandemic disrupted live shows. The outfit(s) they assemble to grace the big stage is now just as important as the main event.
“2023 has quickly become the year of the ‘tourdrobe’ thanks to Harry Styles, Beyoncé and Taylor Swift simultaneously performing world tours, creating hype over summer,” said Venetia Fryzer, a retail analyst at Edited. “Fans have taken to social media and planning outfits and sharing looks have become a major part of the concert experience.”
As Styles, Swift and Beyoncé crisscrossed the world this summer, fans prepared for their stop on the tour by DIY-ing and shopping for dupes of the pop stars’ high-end designer stage looks, or in the case of Swift, outfits that reference one of her many eras. Despite killing the element of surprise at concerts, TikTok clips of Styles hamming it up in colorful Gucci tracksuits, Swift strumming her guitar in ethereal Etro frocks and Beyoncé vogueing in futuristic Fendi chrome bodysuits served as blueprints for what their fans want to wear to the see their idols in the flesh.
Planning outfits and sharing looks on social media via hashtags has become the norm, Fryzer said. Fans share their concert shopping hauls, trade style advice and post GRWM (get ready with me) videos in the lead-up to shows. Afterward, they show off their favorite looks on social media. This sense of community created online carries into the stadium stands. Fryzer noted how Swift’s fans trade homemade friendship bracelets at concerts, and TikTok has become a space for them to share videos of the designs they swap with other Swifties.
“Social is critical as so many of us watch ‘Get Ready with Me’ TikToks for entertainment,” said Winnie Park, Forever 21 CEO, adding that some of the fast-fashion brand’s best collaborations have been with leading voices in the GRWM sphere.
Indeed, fans are hungrily devouring concert fashion content. TikToks tagged #loveontouroutfit, which has over 157 million views, reveal a fandom painting and bedazzling Styles’ initials on the back of jeans and wearing feather boas. Viewed over 1.2 billion times, the videos tagged #erastouroutfits show Swifties combining their antihero’s penchant for cowboy boots, pastels and iridescent sequins. Videos tagged #renaissanceoutfit, viewed 36.8 million times, show the Beyoncé Beehive fanning themselves dressed in silver-coated jeans and disco ball cowboy hats.
The outfits caught the attention of Queen Bey, who often thanked her audience for dressing to the nines. She even doubled down on the unofficial dress code by asking fans to wear their “most fabulous silver fashion” to her Renaissance World Tour shows during Aug. 23-Sept. 22 to create a “shimmering human disco ball each night.”
This spurred retailers like NastyGal to curate an online selection of silver fashion and for TikTokers like @cydsimone to post videos of last-minute silver fashion ideas such as Zara’s assortment of silver-coated and crystal-covered denim. As TikToker @camilleviviana_ put it: “If Beyoncé wants a house of chrome, we’re gonna give her a house of chrome.”
Beyoncé’s request for an all-silver audience also sent fans who had long been DIY-ing non-silver items into an uproar on TikTok.
Re-creating the fashion worn by artists, and taking followers through the DIY process on TikTok, is one of the big shifts in post-pandemic concert culture. The trend emerged in August 2022 when Styles kicked off a 15-night “Love On Tour” residence at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Attendees turned out in feather boas and watermelon-printed garb—nods to the green boa Styles made famous during his 2021 Grammy performance of “Watermelon Sugar High.” Fallen feathers filled the gutters outside the show each night.
The copycat looks continued in Los Angeles where Styles performed 15 sold-out shows at The Forum, and it went global as “Love On Tour” landed in 28 different countries. By the summer of 2023, fans were making dupes of the Swarovski-crystal-covered EgonLab jumpsuit he wore to the Grammy Awards earlier in the year, painstakingly gluing tiny crystals to tops, jeans and denim skirts.
Beyoncé fans made the effort to re-create the custom flesh-tone Loewe jumpsuit she wore during the “Renaissance” tour. Fans ironed on Cricut cutouts and sewed gloves onto one-pieces to mimic its trompe l’oeil hands print. Meanwhile, Swifties have gone to great lengths to make copies of the bejeweled Versace bodysuit the blond singer wears to open her shows.
Others are turning to platforms like Etsy for one-of-a-kind concert looks, including custom denim. “Denim is certainly having a moment within concert dressing because it’s easy to DIY and customize,” said Kendall Becker, Trendalytics fashion director. “We’ve seen quotes, patches and decorations added to oversized denim jackets and pairs of denim to help achieve a cool, desired look.”
Social media is how Micah Thompson’s custom denim jacket business on Etsy got off the ground. “It’s truly incredible how fast word can spread and how much a simple tag from a well-followed customer can grow business,” she said.
The founder of Made by Micah Mae started painting custom jackets mostly for the wives and girlfriends of college and professional athletes in 2020. In early 2023 a friend asked her to paint a jacket for the Eras Tour, and she’s created four Eras Tour jackets since. “Every customer who has ordered a jacket for the Eras Tour has been so kind and fun to work with during the design process. I always love getting excited messages when their jacket arrives in the mail and pictures when they wear it to the concert,” she said.
Thompson uses jackets purchased from Old Navy or Amazon as the base for her custom designs. She has also found a few gems at thrift stores and customers are welcome to provide their own. The painted jackets retail for $200 and up.
Though she’s not a Swiftie herself, Thompson said the Eras Tour orders bring a new energy to her designs. “I love the colors, the bling and the creativity that goes into each one,” she said. “Every Taylor jacket has pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me learn new techniques. I hand-glued more than 1,500 individual rhinestones on one of them. It’s been such a welcome change from my typical athlete jackets.”
Traditional retailers and brands are leaning into “tourdrobe” demands as well. Revolve launched a “Chrome Concert Moment” curation spanning faux leather silver maxi skirts and corset tops to aluminum mesh tops and dresses. Silver sequin coordinates, harnesses and cutout catsuits made up Dolls Kill’s Renaissance category online. In addition to silver fashion, Nasty Gal has “The Eras Collection,” an assortment of fringe miniskirts, denim coordinates, dresses with heart cutouts and cowboy boots.
“Concert dressing presents a massive opportunity for retailers to push current stock to fans through style edits,” Fryzer said. Edited’s visual merchandising tool has tracked several retailers promoting “get the look” and “what to wear” edits within recent email communications for fans. For example, Fryzer said Flannels launched a Renaissance Flagship popup store and experience in London, offering official merch to celebrate Beyoncé’s world tour. Tiffany & Co. also collaborated with the “Love on Top” singer on a collection of Y2K-inspired charm necklaces, with 100 percent of profits going to her About Love Scholarship Program.
Park said Forever 21 has noticed concert fashion becoming more thematic to the artists. She added that its customers view music as an important moment for escapism where they can have fun experimenting with their fashion and beauty looks. “They embrace every trend, and more importantly, a great theme [or] costume party,” she said.
Sequin-embellished crop top and skirt sets, studded denim, crystal-encrusted cowboy boots and body jewelry have been popular items at Forever 21. “We are also seeing a lot of head-to-toe monochrome dressing, [like] lots of hot pink for Taylor Swift,” Park said.
Trendalytics reported that Swift’s tour “is arguably playing a hand in boosting economies across the world with remarkable spending from the tickets to accommodations and outfits.” It’s seen 24,000 average weekly searches for ruffle dresses, up 23 percent to last year. Sequin tops and pearl mesh tops have seen double-digit growth and pair with metallic pants, which is up 118 percent compared to 2022. Metallic accessories, rhinestone cowboy hats and cowboy boots have also become concert must-haves.
There are many crossovers between the “tourdrobe” and festival trends, such as Western themes and sequined looks. However, Fryzer has seen a “more pared-back festival look” emerge this year, fueled by influencers like Kendall Jenner and Hailey Bieber moving into their quiet luxury eras. Basic tank tops and denim pieces were popular choices for Coachella this year, largely because they’re easy-to-wear garment that will always have a place in someone’s wardrobe, she said.
Interest in versatile staples tracks with what Pacsun has seen for festival garb. Addie Rintel, Pacsun’s VP of women’s merchandising and design, said denim shorts, crop tops, corset tops and cargos have been important as well as romantic satin styles from the Beverly & Beck by Pacsun collection. Richard Cox, VP of men’s merchandising and design, named cargo pants, oversized boxy fit graphic tees, woven short-sleeve shirts and looser knit and crochet fabrics as concert and festival must-haves for men.
The main difference between concert and festival fashion, Becker said, is that festival fashion is about overarching aesthetics that are driven more by fashion trends than music. In comparison, concert fashion is an effort to align with an artist’s community.
Whereas the merch shirt craze of 2018-2019 felt like a status symbol for super-fans, Becker said the rise of concert fashion reflects a shift in social currency. “We used to see limited edition or only accessible apparel at concerts that created a hype outside of the main attraction,” she said. “In recent years, this notion of developing a ‘brand’—whether that be a celebrity, influencer or everyday business owner—has increasingly taken off and is crucial for making a name of yourself online.”
In turn, Becker said showgoers have begun to lean into their own iterations of an artist’s “brand” rather than opting for merch. “This also gives showgoers creative freedom to translate the art in their own way—may it be dressing up as the overall aesthetic of the album or wearing a go-to style cue of the artist,” she said.
Though Styles and Beyonce are finished with their world tours, they proved that the “tourdrobe” phenomenon has gone global. Concert outfit ideas and hauls for Swift’s “Eras Tour” are just getting started, however. The 12-time Grammy Award winner kicked off the international leg in November, giving brands and retailers in South America, Australia, Asia and Europe opportunities to cash in on the fandom. She will continue circling the globe through November 2024.
Given the amount of fan-generated content and buzz for these tours, it’s a safe bet that other artists going on tour soon will try to recreate the hype. To stay on top of the trend, brands and retailers must plug into future album releases and tour dates and the aesthetic the artist builds around the album.
And with concerts becoming a hub for creative self-expression—whether consumers dress in a chrome corset, cowboy boots or feather boas—don’t expect fans to become wallflowers any time soon. “Concert dressing creates a sense of idolization and community among fans, letting them pay homage to these big stars in a fun and playful way, creating a night to remember,” Fryzer said.