Nineteen-year-old Aliyah Bah, popularly known as Aliyah’s Interlude (@aliyahsinterlude1), is the creator of the alt-clothing TikTok trend known as Aliyah Core. In 2022, the trend exploded in popularity, with #aliyahcore garnering over 91.4 million views. Bah, who amassed over 2 million followers on TikTok since starting in 2020, told Passionfruit about how she sparked a cultural sensation and built an online community uplifting Black alternative fashion.
For many Black women, social media has created a safe space for them to try out different forms of their style without fear of backlash, and Black alternative culture has long served as a form of self-expression.
Self-dubbed the “Visual Diary of an It Girl,” Bah’s TikTok channel marks the revival of the “It Girl” aesthetic—an extension of the Y2K era popularized by Black fashion icons like Destiny’s Child, Alicia Keys, Missy Elliot, Dapper Dan, and others. There’s no such thing as overdressing for Bah, with a unique, hyperfeminine, Harajuku-inspired fashion sense shining alongside her candid video diaries.
“I realized that I wanted to make fashion content throughout 2022 and planned it early on at the beginning of the year,” Bah said. “I decided to spice things up by speaking more in the video content to show my raw, unfiltered personality and connect more with a larger audience.”
Since creating her first TikTok in 2020, through dedicated and consistent posting, Bah’s TikTok presence took off. She said she became more confident and started owning her niche, leading her to coin the term “Aliyah Core.”
The “core” label is popular on TikTok, and often describes a category of aesthetics, a niche, or a subculture—think viral trending aesthetics like “cottagecore,” “goblincore,” or even “corecore.”
“Aliyah Core came from me calling my different fashion eras ‘core,’ so I thought, why not name it after me when I wear something unique?” Bah said. “A lot of the inspiration behind [my fashion eras] come from Y2K, Harajuku, and streetwear outfits and I implement my own style and bring it to life.”
An Aliyah Core look demands several essential items: fishnets, mini skirts, garnets, boots, belts, ear muffs, and other splashy accessories. While Bah is known for a feminine style, as she explained in a viral TikTok with over 3.8 million views, the viral aesthetic can be both masculine and feminine.
When asked what she hopes for the future of the clothing trend, Bah said, “I hope to make Aliyah Core an inclusive household clothing brand soon enough, as this has been a goal of mine from the onset.”
Bah said she sees Aliyah Core making a name for itself like luxury fashion brands Gucci and Louis Vuitton. She said she also hopes to trademark the name and begin working on a fashion brand for a 2023 release.
Like many other Black creators facing different forms of bias, Aliyah said she faced a fair share of challenges navigating an internet ecosystem that isn’t necessarily inclusive.
Since last November, she has faced severe criticism over her signature looks and videos, particularly on Twitter. She said she faced specific backlash for her viral “Boots on Beach” look, which paired winter boots with a bikini. She showcased the outfit in a viral TikTok with over 11.5 million views.
“When I saw [the first post] of someone mocking my ‘Boots on Beach’ outfit, it actually felt surreal that I had reached a moment in my career to garner public attention,” Bah said.
However, Bah said as much hate as she receives, love “outweighs it.” Bah is guarded by an army of fans who regularly support her, and her “Boots on Beach” look was even recreated by pop star Lizzo.
“I hope one day that my content can create a safe space and conversation for Black girls to receive less judgment and more open-mindedness from the general public,” Bah said.
It’s become a common error for the general public to tie other alt-Black women creators into the same aesthetic umbrella by tagging their outfits as #aliyahcore even when this is not the case, causing controversy within the community. On Jan. 9, Bah responded to this common issue in a viral TikTok with over 1.1 million views, asking social media users to stop labeling creators’ outfits as Aliyah Core unless they specifically cite her as inspiration.
This occurrence is an all too familiar reality for BIPOC creators being put under a box without being allowed to stray outside of it. While Bah created a niche for herself, alt fashion also includes diverse styles ranging from “cybergoth” to “cottagecore” to “Kawaii” to “soft living.”
Amid a sea of alt-fashion content, Bah honed in on her personality and identity to grow a large, engaged fanbase.
“It’s good to always allow your voice and personality to come across in your content as a part of your originality. There are so many GRWM [get ready with me] videos and stylish videos out there, what makes yours different and should keep viewers glued to their screen is you,” Bah said.
Bah advised up-and-coming creators to “own” their content and exude confidence, even in the face of uncertainty.
“It’s always good to walk into a room like you’re supposed to be in there. A part of what’s gotten me this far is my manifestation and practicality,” Bah said.
Bah also said she likes to connect with other creators, and urged aspiring creators to network with their peers.
“I think networking is quite key as a creator, it’s important to join a community of people in the same boat as you and learn from each other and grow together,” Bah said.