How Nostalgia Influences Fashion
Fashion has a comprehensive and diversified legacy for such a progressive industry. Designers have long drawn inspiration from previous decades to produce new collections and start the latest trends.
“The feeling of a lack of control is one of life’s biggest stressors. Because there is so much uncertainty in these times, we resort to something that we can control, like our memories of the past,” explains behavioural psychologist and author of The Psychology Fashion Carolyn Mair. “People have always looked back to the golden olden days because it makes us feel good to do so. We associate nostalgia with positive feelings and experiences, and we want to relive those feelings during times of upheaval.”
The past’s allure isn’t limited to popular culture’s higher levels. Instagram and Twitter have become popular breeding grounds for fashion nostalgia, especially when influencers struggle to create content based on the ever-evolving micro-trends. Millennials and Gen-Z are drawn to nostalgic content, whether it’s in the form of fashion magazines or celebrities sharing old
photos. People have an insatiable desire to look back and reflect on the past, particularly in times like these, when the future’s so unclear. The existing market for nostalgia and pre-owned items is encouraging, indicating a significant shift in how people consume fashion. People are increasingly turning to ‘vintage’ pieces for inspiration for something fresh. When we recall our favourite teen idol, TV show, or clothing from our past, we usually correlate it with a happy experience and a want for more of the same. Brands can easily merchandise references from the past into entertaining stories, making nostalgic trends excellent for targeting the teen and tween market. Plus, these so-called reflective trends—whether bike shorts or colour denim—feel fresh for that demographic.
Nostalgia allows for the use of vintage and reemerging y2k aesthetics, resurrecting some of the most significant trends and clinging on to the past while remoulding it in a future image. Past, present, and future appear to intersect in vintage clothing in a way that expresses each aspect in equal proportion while simultaneously not embodying any of them. It effectively depicts only the present, just as fashion is supposed to.
Historically, nostalgia has been regarded as opposing ideas of youth and invention. However, when we sit to rewatch FRIENDS for the 100th time, we can’t deny the comfort that comes with returning to a secure and familiar bubble.