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From intricate DIYs to ethical dilemmas, Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour spotlights the culture of concert fashion

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For some Taylor Swift fans, securing a coveted ticket to the Australia leg of the superstar’s Eras Tour was just the start of their stress — it was time to start curating the perfect concert outfit.

Swifties who knew their way around a sewing machine and a hot glue gun got to work.

For others, fast fashion retailers were quick to offer up enough cowboy boots and sequin mini-skirts for every era.

Dressing up for concerts has been happening for decades, and Taylor Swift isn’t the only performer who inspires fans to follow a dress code.

Feather boas were the must-have accessory for Harry Styles’s world tour last year, though concert goers from London to Sydney were criticised for leaving a massacre of feathers in their wake post-show.

Beyonce went a step further and for her birthday asked fans attending her Renaissance tour during Virgo season to don their “most fabulous silver fashions.”

And who is going to say no to Beyonce? And on her birthday?

But what separates Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour from her peers is how it spotlights just how elaborate concert outfit culture has become.

For some fans, the desire to get involved can quickly tip into pressure to look the part, or risk feeling left out among hundreds of thousands of fans.

‘I have to be part of this club’
Writer, editor and podcaster Jasmine Wallis has been a Swiftie for years but had never seen the singer live until she touched down for three shows in Melbourne earlier this month.

“I’d seen all the Eras Tour outfits from the US so I knew it was a big occasion and people dress up and it’s very much a celebration of girlhood,” she told ABC News.

“I suddenly felt all this pressure to dress up sparkly and sequined.”

While her friends started making their own outfits months ahead of the February tour, Wallis knew she’d buy something closer to the date, then suddenly found herself cutting it close.

“I probably spent about two hours on my computer on Sunday night going through all these websites that I’ve never even looked at before,” she said.

“From a value perspective, I try not to not buy fast fashion in general but especially not ultra-fast fashion.”

After realising nothing would be delivered in time, Wallis went in-store and found herself considering a $70 sequin mini-skirt “that was falling apart in the dressing room.”

“I was still like ‘no, I should buy this because I don’t want to be left out’. It was really weird, the FOMO culture of it all.

“Even as a 27-year-old with critical thinking skills, who talks about fast fashion all the the time, I was still just like ‘I have to be part of this club.'”

Wallis ended up wearing a silver sequin skirt borrowed from a friend, who bought it specially for the Eras Tour but had decided on wearing something else.

“I probably saw 100 girls in the same skirt, but it was really fun to wear something I wouldn’t normally wear and feel sparkly and glittery and paired with things I already own.”

According to the Australian Fashion Council (AFC), Australians buy on average 56 items of clothing annually, with 200,000 tonnes of clothing going into landfill every year.

“While fashion can bring people such joy, uplift experiences and allow us to creatively express ourselves, we know that it also has a large impact on the planet,” an AFC spokesperson said.

Sustainability and circularity are increasingly important to customers, and it’s essential to a resilient and thriving industry — businesses that don’t adapt and evolve will be left behind.”

Taylor Swift has toured Australia multiple times before, but fans have noticed a distinct shift in the look of the crowd for the Eras Tour.

“Friends who had seen her before were like, ‘this is a new phenomenon, when I saw the Reputation tour people weren’t dressing up like this,'” Wallis said.

While Wallis suspects social media might be fuelling fans’ desire to dress up more, her personal want to dress up “came from this being one of the biggest pop culture entertainment moments in the last decade in Australia, I’d say maybe even more, and wanting to capture the moment and really get involved.”

I’ve joked that I’ll be buried in it’
Scores of Swifties were inspired to DIY their own Eras Tour outfits, including 25-year-old Izzie Peachey who started working on her look before international tour dates were even announced.

“While Taylor was touring through the US I loved seeing other people make their own outfits and knew this was something I wanted to do myself,” she told ABC News.

“When I first laid eyes on the original pink and blue Lover bodysuit, I was absolutely obsessed.”

For Ms Peachey, the process of recreating the bodysuit Swift wears to open her blockbuster show took five months.

“[I] can safely say I spent over 100 hours working on it,” she said, adding the look involved 12,000 rhinestones and upwards of 7,000 sequins, all individually hand glued and sewn.

“Gluing rhinestones is easy, the most time consuming part was definitely sewing sequins. I also unpicked and re-sewed a lot of them because the colours weren’t right.

“I really wanted to make the bodysuit as close to the original as I could.”

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