Earlier this year, the weeks-long, mostly stan-driven TikTok feud between Hailey Bieber and Selena Gomez gave the internet one of its silliest celebrity beefs in recent memory. It was also a frightening reminder of how quickly (presumably) bored young people will mobilize around misinformation and innocuous social-media interactions, in the name of their favorite childhood stars. God help us!
Now, it seems we’re on the brink of yet another internet proxy war involving two closely related parties: Kylie Jenner and newly ascended A-list nepo-baby Sofia Richie. And it all comes down to the former wearing a Bottega dress.
To my deep dismay, the origins of this brewing fashion scandal somehow involve Beyoncé. Last weekend, Jenner and her momager, Kris, attended the Renaissance World Tour in Paris, along with other A-list celebrities like Megan Thee Stallion, Jay-Z, Gomez and Natalie Portman. The 25-year-old documented some of her uncharacteristically posh, Old-Hollywood lewks for her European getaway on TikTok and Instagram, sparking comparisons to Richie’s celebrated style in the wake of her viral wedding in April.
Along with the sartorial choices on Succession, Richie’s minimalist attire has made the “quiet luxury” and “old money” aesthetic a social-media obsession. (Although whether or not wearing a hot-pink jumpsuit emblazoned with the Chanel logo is technically “quiet” has been disputed by some.) Thanks, in part, to Richie’s star-studded nuptials, online searches for the term “quiet luxury” rose by 614 percent over the past year. And in March, Vogue had already named this cleaner, more elegant approach to clothing as the year’s biggest fashion trend.
This minimalist pivot is presumably a response to the recent slew of microtrends, reinforced by cheaply made fast fashion, that have made it harder to discern what’s in and what’s out. Ostensibly, there are also millions of people who, for a long time, have forgone riskier fashion choices for more basic, timeless pieces. But according to a large swath of the internet, Richie is the architect of all things pleated and beige.
In one viral (and lambasted) tweet, a user describes Jenner’s series of Parisian fits from Memorial Day weekend—which included a black Bottega Veneta midi dress, a white Alaia maxi dress, and matching Maximillian Davis jacket and miniskirt—as the “Sofia Richie effect.” This tweet was ultimately mocked by other accounts, disputing Richie’s influence and pointing out the commonness of wearing the color white.
But on TikTok, where Richie has become a Gen-Z icon overnight, users are certain that Jenner is a desperate, calculated copycat. (Not totally untrue.) The fact that the two were apparently friends at one point, before Richie split from Kourtney Kardashian’s ex-partner Scott Disick, has made this so-called theft even more fraught.
“Kylie Jenner has been vacationing in Paris lately,” begins TikToker @stephwithdadeets in a recent post. “And it seems like she took a page out of her former best friend’s fashion book. We’re all thinking it, right? Kylie’s striving for the Sofia Richie vibes.”
Another commentator funnily accuses the Kylie Cosmetics founder of “call[ing] Backgrid as she cosplays as Sofia Richie” in Paris. A similar TikTok breaking down the controversy features the saucy caption, “The one thing Kylie & her family is good at is stealing. Sofia Richie has always had the old money style!” Another user, pointing out Jenner’s new look, even brings Jennifer Lopez into the picture. J.Lo’s crime? She wore a white top with black cardigan.
I’m used to TikTok being a well of sexism, anti-intellectual nonsense and galaxy-brain conspiracy theories. It’s a place where stans with no regard for history or willingness to do a quick Google search go to make unchecked statements into an echo chamber and are rewarded for doing so. That said, this latest act of pitting women against each other under the impression that one of them owns a certain look—and not the designers who created the fashions they’re wearing—is expected.
What this weird proxy battle could become, if Jenner dares to wear another modest dress in public, is a different story. But based on user comments, disputing Richie stans’ claims, and the large rejection of Richie as a Gen-Z fashion icon on Twitter, we may (hopefully, prayerfully!) avoid another time-wasting, Bieber/Gomez disaster altogether.