It’s peak summertime throughout a pandemic, which suggests like all elder millennials who don’t have the vitality to socialize or just forgot how, I spent my weekend fortunately sitting subsequent to the A/C, ordering mozzarella sticks and shedding all sense of time within the newest TikTok craze, #bamarush.
The viral hashtag, which has 221.4 million views and counting as of Sunday night time, unlocks a portal into the world of Southern sorority recruitment and panhellenic society on the University of Alabama, the place from Aug. 7-14, 2,000-plus ladies convened to participate of the push course of. There, the largely freshman hopefuls acquired their first style of Greek life formalities, and within the age of TikTok, documented their particular person #OOTDs alongside the best way.
The posts reveal a uncommon and actual glimpse into the historically secretive social organizations and the personalities that need to be a part of it. The stage of dedication that outsiders have for #bamarush, nonetheless, is simply as intriguing. Some #bamarush watchers have began holding spreadsheets monitoring which sorority every “rush girl” receives a bid from. Others are posting Tuscaloosa climate updates as a result of good heavens if the ladies should trek from Tutwiler, the dorm the place many stay, to the McMansions on Sorority Row of their Dolce Vita Paily square-toe heels.
Despite #bamarush being pure gold for hate-watchers (their mispronunciation of “Chanel” might draw the ire of fashionistas), a couple of rush women, together with Makayla a.ok.a @whatwouldjimmybuffettdo and Emma a.ok.a @dollypartonwannabe02, have garnered a supportive fanbase rooting them on .
If I used to be a betting lady, I’d say that executives at Netflix and MTV are taking notice, to not point out the merchandise planners at Spirit Halloween.
But in case you would have advised me final yr—throughout a summer time that flooded our social media feeds with daring examples of activism to finish systemic racism—that in 2021 movies chronicling the highs, lows and style of largely white ladies with blonde hair and large desires trying to affix predominately white sororities at a traditionally white establishment can be trending, I’d have stated, “read the room.” It’s much more mind-boggling if you understand the hashtag is tied to a Greek life system that formally ordered sororities to desegregate as latest as 2013.
Nevertheless, right here we’re 16 months right into a merciless pandemic that teased us with a couple of optimistic weeks of semi-normalcy solely to swing again round with hospitals at zero capability and looming restrictions. But simply in time, TikTok has gifted us with one more escapist outlet and pandemic aesthetic to dissect and unpack: #bamarush.
The #bamarush starter pack
If there’s any doubt that style takes middle stage at Rush Week, simply try the Alabama Panhellenic Association’s web site. An total part is devoted to what to put on to recruitment, putting a robust emphasis on “nicer” attire, heels and wedges. The #bamarush look is exclusive, nonetheless, in that it isn’t influenced by Gen Z ‘it’ gadgets like tennis skirts, mini purses or coordinating units, and wholly unconcerned with showing cheugy.
It’s no shock that the movies, like the style, are formulaic, too. Each PNM—Greek lingo for “potential new member”—stands earlier than the digicam in her dorm room and states what stage of rush week she’s dressing for. For occasion, Day 1 of sisterhood requires a costume and heels, whereas Day 1 of philanthropy, a time when sororities share how they provide again to the group and carry out “door dances” (Google it, the phrases to explain it don’t exist), requires a extra informal costume code.
Casual seems to be embrace FP Movement by Free People’s nylon shorts with a large waistband, tiered ruffle mini-skirts or scalloped hem shorts which are paired with one in every of a number of rush-themed T-shirts offered by the Alabama Panhellenic Executive Council throughout convocation.
Dresses are largely strong white, pink and blue, although some chase LoveShackFancy’s ultra-feminine romantic vibe, which stands out as the gold normal in #bamarush formal put on. Day costume silhouettes nod to final yr’s nap costume pattern with puffed sleeves and stretch smocked bodices, however the majority are figure-hugging with particulars like cascading ruffles or a single strap. Formal Affair’s strapless ruffled bodice attire and rompers are a favourite.
Dolce Vita braided strap heels, Steve Madden block heel sandals, Golden Goose glittery sneakers, Gianni Bini wrap heels and colourful kicks by Hoka One One are among the many #bamarush footwear staples.
PNMs additionally carry “rush bags” which are sometimes preneLOVE’s neoprene printed totes crammed with touchup necessities like mints (gum is just not allowed), make-up, deodorant, masks and a towel to take a seat on whereas they wait outdoors homes for his or her appointments. Some pack a pair of Birkenstocks to swap into as soon as their face-to-face conferences are over.
Other key equipment span assertion chandelier earrings, Shein rings, and Longchamp totes to heaps of Kendra Scott jewellery.
Scott, who ranked No. 47 on the Forbes 2020 checklist of America’s self-made ladies and stepped down as CEO of her eponymous firm earlier this yr, responded to the flood of #bamarush shout-outs together with her personal TikTok video. “I am absolutely obsessed with all your incredible looks… I can’t wait to see what university is going to be next,” she stated.
Boon to native companies
Along with manufacturers, PNMs title the place they bought items of their OOTD, referring to a pair of sandals as T.J. Maxx or a necklace as Francesca’s.
The title “Lulu’s” is talked about often, although within the case of sporty shorts it’s unclear in the event that they imply Lululemon or Lulus, the web ladies’s style retailer. It’s much less ambiguous after they’re pointing to a costume. Lulus, the e-commerce retailer, boasts 544 types in its “sorority rush dress” edit.
On the web site, Lulus states: “You may have found the perfect chapter, but are you still looking for a dress that will make you stand out above the rest? Look no further than our curated collection of trendy, stylish, and (most of all) cute, sorority recruitment dresses, rush dresses, and initiation dresses at Lulus! Whether you’re trying to make the best impression with our lightweight and flowy mini and midi dresses or finding the perfect dresses to match your Big or Little, we have the best selection of affordable white sorority dresses and colorful dresses to choose from…So take a break from stressing, because Lulus has your back in helping you show off how truly amazing you are! You got this, girl!”
The consideration to #bamarush is having a halo impact on native companies like Pants Store, the family-owned retailer situated simply 4 minutes from the college. Established in 1950 primarily as a pants retailer, the enterprise has advanced right into a five-store Alabama chain with a sturdy on-line section providing males’s, ladies’s and youngsters’s attire, footwear, equipment, and presents.
Michael Gee, who co-owns the enterprise together with his brother John, stated the coed inhabitants has all the time been a giant key to the success of Tuscaloosa retailer, however “it’s definitely big time when they’re buying for rush.”
This yr, nonetheless, turned out to be in contrast to every other because of its new TikTok fandom. “It’s been crazy. It is absolutely zonkers,” Gee stated. “We’ve seen a 400 percent increase in the last two weeks in our website traffic.” Additionally, the shop gained 10,000 followers on TikTok in a single week and partnered with Makayla a.ok.a @whatwouldjimmybuffettdo to advertise present concepts to her 109.7K followers. Not too shabby for an account that launched simply 4 months prior on the suggestion of Gee’s 14-year-old daughter. “All of a sudden it’s like all the hard work paid off immediately,” he stated.
Though 2021 rush week is scaled again in comparison with pre-pandemic schedules, the truth that extra in-person occasions have been on the calendar this yr was a welcome change after 2020, when rush largely came about over Zoom. Dressing head-to-toe is again. Dresses, skirts and ladies’s sneakers are amongst Pants Store’s present bestsellers. “They’re dressing up. They’re trying to get out of their loungewear and [back to] looking fancy again,” Gee stated.
Though Gee is keen to “ride the wave” and to proceed to work with college students as ambassadors for the shop, its newfound TikTok glow doesn’t negate the truth that Pants Store has a laser sharp concentrate on what its clientele desires. Whereas retailers giant and small have misplaced their level of differentiation by making an attempt to supply the whole lot to everybody, Pants Store is stocked with the all of the necessities for Greek life and scholar dwelling, together with printed coolers, Hydro Flask bottles and Vici Patches that assist curb hangovers.
“There’s no doubt that there were freshmen girls on that campus that saw TikTok and were [swayed] to come see us at our store,” Gee stated. “Business has been through the roof the past, you know, 7 to 10 days. And we feel like once these freshmen girls walked in our store, we’ve got them for four years.”
If TikTok customers have been enamored with PNM’s rush OOTDs, wait till they start to submit their seems to be for soccer season. Just don’t count on crew sweatshirts and wide-leg denims. This is the South, in spite of everything.
“Game day is huge,” Gee stated. “Those girls pour in on a Thursday and Friday for an outfit for the weekend.”
Pants Store serves this event by providing quite a lot of clear purses with on-trend crossbody shapes that meet the safety necessities of Bryant–Denny Stadium, the house subject of the Alabama Crimson Tide soccer crew, in addition to deep vary of enjoyable and flirty tops, skirts and attire for pre- and post-game festivities.
“They dress up, they show out, they’re still doing their OOTD,” he stated. “And we feel like that will push right into game day this fall.”