How to Build a Career in Fashion: TikTok’s Chazz Innis Tells All

By: Elizabeth Wheless

Want to learn how to be successful in the fashion industry? This past Tuesday, Chazz Inniss, TikTok’s strategist for fashion and lifestyle partnerships, shared valuable insight on all things fashion and social media, teaching the audience how to go viral the right way.  

With an impressive resume boasting time at renowned institutions such as People Magazine, PopSugar, and Oscar De La Renta, Chazz drew a crowd of stylish and driven students eager to hear his valuable insight. The Q&A session, hosted by Look staff member Meighan Ashford, covered a range of topics, from career advice to the latest trends.  

Prior to the main event, Chazz spoke to a handful of classes in the Fashion Media department, as well as the SMU Look staff. During these sessions, he guided the groups through exercises on curating TikTok content that authentically connects with their target audience. He advised thinking of one’s brand as a person, asking questions such as: What are they like? What kind of friend are they? And what do they value? 

A huge takeaway from Chazz is that your story and perspective matter. He opened the conversation by saying, “You have your own specific, unique story. You can tell your story in a way that is authentic to you.” 

This was a huge element in what Chazz referred to as ‘value-based content.’ Brands and social media personalities must align their brand with what people gain from their content. The benefits of this approach is a more dedicated following, increased trust and credibility and most importantly a way to differentiate your brand from others.   

When asked about the constant circulation of trends, Chazz debunked the misconception that people must trend surf in order to stay relevant. Instead, he emphasized the importance of upholding a consistent and authentic point of view. He added that if a certain trend matches the personality of a creator or brand, he would encourage them to add a unique spin that matches the personality of their content to maintain their originality.    

One of my favorite topics was about learning how to enhance your TikTok SEO. First, he highlighted the importance of written text on TikTok videos. The first two to five seconds of a video either captivates or bores the viewer, and written text is a helpful way to effectively capture attention, while also serving as a tool to allow your content to appear in specific searches.  Secondly, he stressed the need for an intriguing and specific caption, he suggests looking up the content that appears in the search and comparing that content to your own. This is a great way to ensure your hashtags and captions align with what TikTok associates with those words. Speaking of hashtags, Chazz’s final suggestion is to not overdo them, so limit yourself to only two or three that represent your content.   

If the insider tips and attention-grabbing stories, such as a fiasco involving a certain pair of Chanel gloves, weren’t sufficient to keep us engaged, Chazz concluded the Q&A with some personal advice prompted by student-led questions. While we’ve often heard the advice to fail often, Chazz took it to the next level, stressing the importance of initiating that process regularly and without fear. Learning how to handle failed videos gracefully and remaining consistent in producing content despite setbacks provides valuable insight into what viewers actually want to see.  

Chazz emphasizes that virality should not be the primary goal, as it can, bring more negative attention than positive. While it may feel validating to get all those likes, brands should be experimental with their content to find an audience that aligns with their brand purpose. 

In response to a question from a freshman fashion media student about avoiding distraction from the content on social media, Chazz provided wonderful advice reminding the audience that “Comparison is the thief of joy, and it isn’t gaining you anything. The biggest brand you can wear is yourself, and the worst possible thing you can do is to compare your journey with someone else’s.”

What an amazing opportunity to hear such great advice on how to succeed in the industry from someone who has accomplished so much just a few years after graduation. Thank you so much to Chazz Inniss for sharing your tips and tricks with us and gracing campus with your magnetic and engaging presence!

Elizabeth Wheless

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