Less than a year after launching its TikTok channel last September, Louis Vuitton surpassed 1 million followers at the beginning of July. 

Its contemporaries Gucci and Dior both hit a million in the last year, as well, thanks to a steady stream of content posted on the brands’ own accounts. These high luxury brands routinely get millions of views and likes on each post. Twelve of the last 15 videos Louis Vuitton posted on TikTok have more than 1 million views. A July 6 video featuring K-pop band BTS has more than 15 million views.

The success that big luxury brands are having on TikTok far exceeds that of more affordable brands. Some non-luxury brands like Shein and Fashion Nova have more than a million followers, but Aeropostale, Gap, American Eagle and H&M have 5,000-300,000 followers.

However, affordable brands like Aeropostale often make up for their following by having a more active relationship with big TikTok influencers, compared to luxury brands. Gap, which has just 5,000 followers on TikTok, struck big in January when influencer Barbara Kristoffersen posted a video of herself wearing a brown Gap logo hoodie to her more than 250,000 followers. Influencer Emma Chamberlain had posted a similar blue version in September to her 12 million followers. Both videos were viewed more than 2 million times each, and the hashtag #gaphoodie was viewed nearly 10 million times.

Luxury brands have largely avoided direct TikTok influencer relationships, according to Cece Vu, TikTok’s head of fashion and beauty partnerships. She said some of the best-performing luxury brands, like Louis Vuitton, have succeeded on TikTok by creating unique content, eschewing the protective brand image that is more common on platforms like Instagram and showing unfiltered behind-the-scenes footage. LVMH did not have an executive available for comment.

Notably, it’s not merely name recognition or scale that are driving luxury brands to have a direct following; rather, it seems to be frequency. Balenciaga, for example, has just 170,000 followers on TikTok and a few thousand views per video. Balenciaga posts only a few times a month, while Louis Vuitton posts nearly every day — sometimes more than once a day. 

The content that sees the most views, tends to be behind-the-scenes looks at photoshoots and campaigns, educational videos — like the beauty tutorials Gucci posted this week — and videos that unpretentiously showcase the vibe of an upcoming collection, Vu said. For example, the July 6 Louis Vuitton post showing BTS wearing clothes from the men’s fall 2021 collection garnered 17.4 million views.

@louisvuitton##LVMenFW21 ##LouisVuitton ##BTS♬ original sound – Louis Vuitton

“Luxury brands tend to be among the best performing on the platform,” Vu said. “Recently, we’ve been seeing more fashion houses leveraging music and sound-on environments, which resonates with our community.” Key examples include Balmain, with 318,000 followers, Celine, with 85,000 followers, and Dior. 

And having a strong presence on TikTok is more than just good publicity for these luxury brands. In February, luxury brands including Louis Vuitton and Saint Laurent joined TikTok for a virtual fashion month with runway shows that were viewed more than 3 million times in total and livestreams that were viewed more by more than 800,000 people concurrently. Those livestreams featured immediately shoppable collections through the platform. TikTok did not disclose total sales. The engagement was high because of the audience those luxury brands had already built up for themselves, said Vu. 

TikTok has more than 100 million active users, more than 50% of which are Gen Z, an important demographic for the luxury market. Forty-two percent of TikTok users are ages 18-24, while only 22% of Instagram users are in the same bracket.

“TikTok is a game you win with original engaging content and consistency in posting,” said Annie Leal, head of content at digital media agency H Code. “Louis Vuitton and Gucci have been doing both. Their content is eye-catching, generates high engagement, for good and bad, in the form of comments, and is over-the-top creative. It can capture an audience in just a few seconds. Louis Vuitton knows how to connect with this young audience and capitalize on what is already popular to bring awareness to their brand.”