If you’re reading this, I assume it’s because you, like seemingly everyone else on TikTok, have somehow ended up on Alabama RushTok, a world in which a bunch of mostly white girls with mostly blonde hair detail their #OOTDs each day during the sorority rush process. Candidates are likely making these videos at universities across the country, but in a freak accident of the algorithm, seemingly only those at the University of Alabama are going mega-viral — hence the name. (Though we must pay tribute to Hannah, who carried RushTok on her back at Georgia Southern University.)
(I should also note that Blake, one of the viral rush candidates on TikTok, is actually attending Auburn, which is technically still in Alabama, but a very, very different school; this is important to know because the two have a rivalry so intense that a man once poisoned a bunch of trees on Auburn’s campus after he saw one of their fans put their jersey on a statue of Bear Bryant, Alabama’s most beloved ball coach, outside the Alabama football stadium. This is real and it was a whole thing. You think you understand sports rivalries until you live in Alabama, I’m telling you.)
As someone who graduated from an SEC school myself (Go Gators!) and who spent a couple years living in Tuscaloosa, where the University of Alabama is located, these videos are borderline triggering to me. Sure, I’m in my 30s, but the formula for Southern sorority types hasn’t changed much in the decade-plus since I’ve graduated. It’s all about a Panhellenic-issued T-shirt with a skirt or shorts for day, short and bright dresses for night.
But the most fascinating thing about ‘Bama RushTok to me — besides the fact that it has gone viral at all, itself a mind-blowing byproduct of how TikTok’s algorithm works — is that there is one brand absolutely dominating every single video. The clothing choices come from places as far ranging as Shein and Kohl’s to Lululemon and Tory Burch (also a local boutique called Pants Store, which, confusingly, does not just sell pants), and the shoes encompass everything from Steve Madden flatforms to Golden Goose sneakers; but when it comes to jewelry, nearly every single girl is wearing at least once piece by Kendra Scott. During any given #OOTD outfit explanation video, there’s inevitably a Kendra Scott — or “Kendra,” for the really dedicated fans — credit.
It’s not particularly surprising, considering that the Austin, Texas-based brand’s designs have been a favorite of Southern women pretty much since the brand’s inception back in 2002. Scott’s pieces are relatively affordable and statement-making — a real sweet spot for college sorority girls, which her brand capitalizes on through its college ambassador program, Kendra Scott Gems. And while Kendra Scott may not be a red-carpet or fashion-editorial staple, the brand has built a fanbase so loyal it’s reportedly worth over a billion dollars.
Still, this is the kind of organic, viral moment that most brands can only ever dream of. Judging by the tone of the many spoof and explainer videos that have popped up around the Bama RushTok phenomenon, there are many, many people who have only just discovered Kendra Scott and her dedicated fans through these #OOTD posts. I mean, no shade, but I work in fashion, and I’ve heard Kendra Scott’s name more in the last week than I have in the last 10 years of my career. You can’t pay for that kind of exposure! (Or, well, you can, but it feels very forced and can backfire.)
The brand is now in on the game too, capitalizing on its viral moment with Bama Rush TikTok videos of its own.
“Like the 40 million online viewers, we have been captivated by the #BamaRush #OOTD trend on TikTok and have loved seeing so many women ‘spicing’ up their #OOTD’s wearing their favorite Kendra Scott styles during the University of Alabama Greek Rush,” says Mindy Perry, CMO at Kendra Scott. “Connecting with our customers, exactly where they are, is our top priority at here at Kendra Scott. Being able to engage with thousands of TikTok users by supporting their posts and creating our own #BamaRush videos to immediately join the conversation is an incredible demonstration of the authentic connections we build daily at Kendra Scott with our customers. We’ll continue to be tuning in on TikTok…#RollTide.”
(Please know it very much hurt my University of Florida-alum heart to include that last hashtag.)
It’s more clear than ever that Kendra Scott has an iron grip on the wardrobes of Southern women; this might be the moment that takes the Kendra Scott domination to a national level.
Anyway, good luck to all the folks out there rushing and here’s hoping Kendra Scott cuts y’all some checks, besties!