If you were an angsty, indie teen in the 2010s or part of a fandom, you probably ran a Tumblr blog. It seems like only yesterday we laid to rest some of the Tumblr aesthetics like normcore and soft grunge, but now is the time to dig back through your closet. Put back on your Arctic Monkeys or The 1975 band tee, slide on some Dr Martens and find your American Apparel Disco Pants because TikTok’s obsession with Tumblr isn’t going anywhere.
For those who didn’t experience the golden age of Tumblr, the microblogging platform launched in 2007 and peaked between 2013 and 2016, with users rapidly dwindling in 2018 – The Verge reported Tumblr lost 30% of its usual web traffic in December 2018 after its ‘porn ban’ (it banned the posting of adult content, including nudity and pornography).
As CORQ writer Chloë James wrote last year, “users left in droves and migrated to other platforms, bringing Tumblr’s strengths and flaws with them.” Let it be known, Tumblr still exists, but it’s no longer Internet royalty – its legacy now lives on TikTok, which has been dubbed the “new Tumblr”.
TikTok’s fascination, and romanticisation, of the once popular platform is strange for those of us who lived and breathed Tumblr in our youth. In fashion, there’s the 20-year rule for trend cycles, which estimates a trend will resurface again 20 years later – just look at Tumblr’s affinity for 1990s fashion and culture in its heyday – but TikTok’s love for Tumblr is bringing back relics which are less than a decade old, disrupting this trend cycle.
Last year, TikTok loved the Y2K aesthetic, and its resurgence made sense. Two decades has passed and now baby tees and baguette bags were officially cool again. However, TikTok is moving through micro-trends at an alarming rate and is now intensely focused on the 2010s, eight years ahead of schedule – #2014Tumblr currently has over 119 million views on the app.
Last week’s discourse on the twee aesthetic (a cutesy, ‘60s-inspired fashion aesthetic inspired by twee-pop music) solidified how TikTok is adopting Tumblr’s original content by embracing all the blogging platforms’ micro-fashion trends.
Remember the TikTok craze last year surrounding Skins and core aesthetics (think cabincore) or the love for cottagecore in 2020? These all originated from Tumblr. Then there’s the commentary around indie sleaze and the Tumblr Girl aesthetic which has been bubbling on TikTok and covered mainstream media publications like Vogue, Mashable and Vox.
Like Tumblr users back in the day, TikTokers are nostalgic – Vice reported in 2021 they were already nostalgic for lockdown in 2020 – but instead of dreaming they lived in the 1990s, they want to be 2014 Tumblr teens – for now.
By Caroline Edwards, staff writer at CORQ. Picture credit: Lana Del Rey Pictures via Instagram