Taylor Swift and Beyoncé’s respective concert tours and the blockbuster Barbie Phenomenon have triggered a billion-dollar boom in pop culture.
A vibrant subculture has now emerged on TikTok – one in which DIY fans sew bodysuits inspired by the trendy icons and use hashtags like ” #loverbodysuit With more than 60 million views from Swifties around the world. Many have turned their hobby into a lucrative business. But the popularity of their products can create challenges for creators.
Dawson started the online store after receiving praise for her designs on social media. She says it has received more than 230,000 views since its debut in April. She says she shipped “hundreds” of bodysuits to customers worldwide this summer alone. And orders keep coming.
“I’m barely keeping up with my current Halloween orders and have a waiting list over 40 long,” explains Dawson. Still, she wouldn’t have it any other way. “It doesn’t feel like work, but more like I’m pursuing a passion project.”
“This is a work of art”
The same applies Stormy Kelly, a 33-year-old fashion designer who sews and curates Swift-inspired outfits via TikTok. Most of her clothes, she says, are purchased by Swifties to wear on their stops Epoch tour. She notes that many of her customers plan to wear the outfits again for Halloween.
“I’ve been making outfits for Taylor Swift for a long time since you guys Epoch tour started,” Kelly tells Yahoo Entertainment, saying she spent “hours upon hours” processing orders for people who, in some cases, paid “over a thousand dollars” for a single bodysuit.
“This is a work of art,” says Kelly. “When you get something custom-made, it’s just different. [Swift] represents something different that has never been done before. It’s so cool that the outfits are one of the most iconic ways to express yourself and portray yourself as a Swiftie. That’s what they do.”
Ping pinga 44-year-old former shoe and handbag designer from Los Angeles, agrees.
In 2012 she started one Etsy specializing in custom-made catsuits and bodysuits ranging in price from $90 to $900 each. Pingping says custom bodysuits are inspired by Beyonce and that Barbie Films are among their top sellers. That surprised her, she explains.
“Now, with so much competition, I really need to up my quality and aesthetics and provide good photography with great models,” she tells Yahoo Entertainment. “Now I outsource most of the manufacturing, but I still make some by hand.”
“It’s a far cry from when she started, when bodysuits were considered ‘niche’ and usually meant for dancers, aerialists, festival-goers and costume parties,” she says.
“I didn’t have much competition back then, so everything I made sold out quickly,” says Pingping.
“It’s amazing what you can achieve with a few sequins and a hot glue gun”
Across the pond in London, 30-year-old Bella King decided to design a “budget-friendly” Beyoncé costume Renaissance tour this summer. Starting from the base of a dress she had “already loved,” King recreated the singer’s dress “Hands-on” body which was originally designed by the Spanish designer, Lion.
“I think I may have spent something [around $40] “All in all,” she tells Yahoo about the look and the result she shared on TikTok. “I put the gloves together, I got the rhinestones and everything, and it took maybe a few days to put them together.”
The look was worth it. “It just made me feel like this confident, brave, smart person that I know I am but sometimes doesn’t come out with much,” King says. “I’m amazing. I’m breathtaking. I’m amazing!”
Now in Washington, DC, 28 years old Leila Ostria says she saw Beyoncé in concert more than “24 times,” including six during the concert Renaissance tour this summer.
Ostria’s devotion to the artist inspired her to recreate a “practical” bodysuit of her own, which she later made shared on TikTok. As she tells Yahoo Entertainment, expressing themselves through fashion comes naturally to everyone in the BeyHive.
“Beyoncé has always been an artist who inspires people,” she says, noting that social media plays a “big role” in why many fans like to dress up for concerts these days. “Beyoncé is one too Artist. Not only does she sing, but she also puts on a show that makes people dress even nicer.”
Barbie Fans like 29-year-old Brittany Law share these feelings.
Law designs various outfits honoring pop culture figures, but later crafts a Barbie costume made entirely from Amazon products Share the results on TikTokShe says she’s received “a lot of requests from people” to buy the outfit so they can bring a little “Barbie magic” into their own lives.
“I feel the confidence and positivity reflected in myself when I wear these costumes,” Law explains. “I hope people dress up as Barbie for Halloween. I know sometimes people are afraid of everyone wearing the same costume, but in Barbie’s case I think: Let’s take over!”
“For me, this means an additional level of harassment and freedom, as there aren’t many people with my body type on the internet, especially not in skin-tight, full-length glitter bodies,” she explains of the suit, which took more than 70 hours to complete.
“It’s amazing what you can do with a few sequins and a hot glue gun,” she says. “Not everyone has the time, skills or ability to make something themselves, so having a custom outfit made makes perfect sense.”
“I have been creating these outfits continually since the start of their tour,” Dillenbeck says. “Many of us look up to Taylor, and when we can wear something that’s based on her, we feel so enchanted and beautiful.”
For Dillenbeck, like so many others, the hours worked are a testament to her deep admiration and unwavering love for Swift.
“I just love the craft,” she says. “It’s also something that has just brought so many fans together.”