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Westfield’s Big New Attraction? Gen Z’s Cultural Heartbeat

Social media platform TikTok’s meteoric rise has given way to a slew of viral videos and fashion trends. Now, the digital platform is bringing its influence to the physical realm.

On July 22, the Westfield Mall in London will debut the TikTok For You House, a joint effort between the retail property owner and social media giant, where U.S. and UK users spend more time per month than previous titleholder YouTube. The popup experience, which will run through Aug. 8, will feature some of the platform’s biggest stars and content creators, who are slated to host workshops on fashion, food, editing, and—of course—dance routines.

The in-store, 4,000-square-foot “house” features four rooms, complete with video-worthy décor and neon lighting. It includes a living room, where influencers and creators will teach attendees about content, a kitchen, where patrons can engage in cook-offs and learn viral recipes, a dressing room, which will host challenges related to beauty and fashion, and a garden, which will focus on sports tips and tricks and dance.

Following the launch, each week from Monday through Wednesday the house will be available to shoppers looking to book the space to film their own TikToks. From Thursday through Sunday, creators will take control of the experience, hosting workshops in the house’s rooms. Shoppers can register to attend workshops with their favorite creators via Eventbrite, at a price of 5 pounds ($6.90) per session.

The popup will kick off with a workshop led by makeup artist Ellis Atlantis, the 2019 winner of Glow-Up: Britain’s Next Make-Up Star, and will be followed by appearances by fellow TikTok stars Poppy O’Toole, a Michelin-trained chef, footballers Jeremy Lynch and Ben Black, Klym&co creative director Max Klymenko, dance and style influencer Laurie Elle, and comedian Ehiz Ufuah. Parents will also be invited to take part in “trust and safety” sessions, where they will learn how to keep their teens safe on the platform.

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The TikTok For You House will not feature salable product, and will instead focus on bringing the platform’s digital experience to life.

“TikTok has become a cultural phenomenon. It’s where many of our visitors are getting their inspiration from, whether that’s fashion trends, the newest home styling influencer or foodie fads,” Harita Shah, U.K. marketing director for creative, media, events and brand at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, said. “Having a physical space at Westfield London gives shoppers the chance to experience TikTok and their favourite creators in a full 360 experience where the best of the online platform merges with a real life experience.”

Brands and retailers across the board have been leaning into the platform’s popularity, especially among young, Gen Z consumers, and attempting to harness TikTok’s powers for marketing. In May, Express launched the #ExpressReentry challenge, which attempted to stoke appetites for work-ready, post-pandemic wardrobes by prompting TikTok users to share the outfits they plan to wear when they “re-enter” the office. Queer Eye style expert Tan France led the campaign, selecting 20 winners who each received a gift card for the store.

Hollister tapped two of TikTok’s biggest stars—Charli and Dixie D’Amelio—to help launch a Gen-Z-focused label dubbed Social Tourist in May. The multi-year partnership will focus on gender-inclusive apparel, everyday basics and swimwear based on the sisters’ respective styles, the brand said at the time. Capsule collections are slated to drop each month.

The social media giant’s presence felt inescapable for soccer fans who turned into the UEFA European Football Championship over the weekend, in which Italy bested England in the season’s tense final match. TikTok announced its sponsorship of the event in February, and in the lead up to the spring games, worked with UEFA to launch an array of platform features like augmented reality effects, hashtag challenges, livestreaming and more.

“TikTok is fast becoming a place where people can enjoy a new type of experience for the beautiful game, as more and more football organizations, teams and players jump on our platform to engage directly with fans,” Rich Waterworth, the tech company’s U.K. and E.U. general manager, said at the time.

And if nothing else, bringing Gen Z’s favorite social platform into Westfield’s brick-and-mortar world should give the shopping center a foot-traffic boost, and perhaps prime young consumers to convert trend inspiration into purchases elsewhere in the mall.

“It’s the 2021 version of having Miss America or Debbie Gibson visit your local mall,” Forrester retail analyst Sucharita Kodali told Sourcing Journal. “Stuff like that always works.”

Additional reporting by Jessica Binns.