Beyoncé concertgoers are rushing to fast-fashion retailers to find chrome skirts and cowboy boots in their quest to fulfill the superstar’s “birthday wish”: “To celebrate with you wearing your most fabulous silver fashions to the shows 8.23 – 9.22!”
“We’ll surround ourselves in a shimmering human disco ball each night,” Beyoncé wrote this week in an Instagram story, urging fans attending her Renaissance tour to suit up in silver and chrome. “Everybody mirroring each other’s joy. Virgo season together in the House of Chrome.” The artist’s upcoming U.S. tour dates include stops in Inglewood, California, and Seattle.
Following the announcement, members of the Beyhive flocked to social media in a panic, while sustainability experts advised consumers to pause before buying new.
“I was like ‘No!’ ” says Daizha Brown after reading the post. She had planned for months to wear a red outfit to the Seattle show, but decided to buy a silver one when Beyoncé unveiled the dress code.
“It’s a special request from Beyoncé herself!” she thought. “My heartstrings said I should do it. … That night I ordered something new. I didn’t even think twice about it.”
Ahead of the Las Vegas show on Saturday, Laura Jaime nervously decided to stick with a few options she already planned, including a royal blue sequined bodysuit. But the pressure for her and others to fit in lingers.
“This is the first time I’m going to do floor seats,” she says. “The one time I might have eye contact with her, I’m going to be in the wrong color.”
The frenzy around the artist’s last-minute ask illuminates how events that are heavily documented on social media, including Taylor Swift’s Eras tour and the release of the “Barbie” movie, have influenced fast-fashion consumption.
Elizabeth Cline, a professor of fashion policy and consumerism and sustainability at Columbia University in New York, says there are ways to honor Beyoncé’s request in a sustainable way for people who want to participate while also being conscious of the environment and the ethics of the companies they buy from.
“For some people, this is a life-altering experience,” she says. “It’s easy to be critical about it. But if you think more about cultural significance, I think it’s quite beautiful. One of the reasons why fashion exists is to express ourselves.”
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Sustainability experts say the emerging need for extravagant outfits to fit a concert tour’s theme comes from a combination of cultural changes in America. The excitement of having a place to wear something extravagant after the COVID-19 pandemic, the influx of social media marketing of fast fashion and the human desire to show off outfits to fit in with online communities are all factors, they say.
Alden Wicker, a sustainable fashion expert and author of the book “To Dye For: How Toxic Fashion Is Making Us Sick – and How We Can Fight Back,” says the culture around the weeklong Burning Man festival in Nevada, where “one of its core tenants is radical self-expression,” and social media are on her mind.
“People go with fantastic outfits that you are not going to wear in the real world,” she says of Burning Man. More than the evolution of concerts, she says, “it’s TikTok and social media culture.”
“There are probably more influencers on TikTok and Instagram pushing this narrative that people need an outfit in the same way they are pushing that people need this home organization thing from Amazon,” she says. “And hopefully people start realizing you don’t need any of that to go and have a good time.”
Social media has added pressure to participate.
” ‘Barbie,’ ‘Oppenheimer’ and Taylor Swift were kind of organic,” says Sophie Strauss, a stylist “for regular people” based in Los Angeles. “What’s interesting with Beyoncé is it came from the top down.”
But even before the announcement was made, she said, there was an implicit dress code on TikTok and Instagram.
“People were leaning into clubby, sparkly, sexy and a hyper-femme aesthetic for this tour in general already with a dress code in mind,” she says, adding that many of her clients have asked her for help with their outfits for the tour.
Increased calls against fast fashion, toward sustainability
The environmental impacts of fast fashion have been magnified by the popularity of conglomerates like Shein, says Cline. There are several groups supporting federal policy change, such as the Fashioning Accountability and Building Real Institutional Change Act, to regulate the ways fashion brands and retailers produce the items they sell.
For now, Cline says she’s thinking about the summer phenomenon of costume-like outfits for single events in two ways.
“It requires natural resources, takes a lot of water, energy, trees and land to make our clothes, and sometimes we aren’t thinking about that when buying fashion,” she says. “That might not be front of mind when going to see their favorite artist.”
But on the positive side, more people are finding creative ways to save money and repurpose their items, she says.
“A lot of people are customizing or making their outfits to Beyoncé and Taylor Swift’s concerts and buying on Poshmark or Depop in a way to reduce environmental impact,” she says.
She and others told USA TODAY there’s a balance consumers can make when celebrating their favorite artists, protecting the planet and shopping from responsible brands.
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How can concertgoers follow Beyoncé’s chrome theme sustainably?
There are ways for people who want to fit into the chrome theme without spending on items that are likely to end up in a landfill, Strauss says.
Silver makeup, jewelry and already-owned items crafted with rhinestones, for example, she says. Other ways to participate while saving the bank and the environment include borrowing from friends, and using skin-colored clothing with silver jewelry to get a chrome effect.
“Give yourself an hour or so and play dress up. Put on (the album) ‘Renaissance,’ pour a glass of wine and have fun with it,” she says. “And think, ‘What if it wore it with this instead of that? What if I layered this on top of that? What if I added a belt?”
Ultimately, she said, decisions to buy new or rewear often come down to whether people see clothes as “disposable or a lasting choice.”
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‘Fringe, rhinestones, sparkle, metallics’: Clothing resellers see the spike
Resellers are seeing a spike in the attire that many Beyhive members will wear to the tour in the coming days.
Poshmark spokeswoman Mallory Smith says the social commerce marketplace is seeing an increase in Eras and Renaissance tour outfits “as fans resell their fabulous themed fashions to the next wave of concertgoers.”
“More and more people are giving their fringe, rhinestones, sparkle and metallics a second life,” Smith says. Many listings “actually reference the concerts themselves vs. explicitly being tagged with brands or words like ‘glitter’ or ‘sparkle.’ “
Sales for items with “Eras tour” in the description or title have increased more than 350% since the tour began in March, and those including the phrase “Renaissance” increased more than 500% from the tour start in May, she says.