Why are we so obsessed with nostalgia Fashion?

The term nostalgia fashion, currently referred to by other names such as, vintage, Y2K, oldschool, retro, is in a complete growth in searches that include not only second hand fashion platforms like Vestiaire Collective or Vinted but also all the way to our social media platforms. At Trouver we love to delve into the sociology of fashion trends and get to the source of why we believe this is happening.

It is said that nostalgia is a lying bit*ch, and maybe it is just that, this is why nostalgia fashion has such a success rate, often evoking feelings of strong sentimental value, reminding people of youth or a more aesthetic past, reminiscent of the good ol’ days gone by. It doesn’t matter if the fashion was “fly” even if the clothing styles were bad, as long as it neuro links us to times of feeling a greater sense of ease, the element of nostalgia is based on romanticizing the narrative of the past, even if you haven’t lived it, right gen Z’s? This isn’t a dig against any generation in particular, because we 90’s kids also stole our parents’ clothing.  So what is it with this generational vintage obsession

Photo by Pascal Brauer

The Timelessness: we crave now more than ever, is consequence to hyper speed of technological evolution, the more we go virtual the more we want to reminisce about the time life was non-digital, when life and interactions were still happening in the human world, currently stepping off at the last stop before full blown digitalization, the 90’s and early 2000’s station. This allows individuals to press pause and reconnect with feelings of simpler happier days, creating a sense of comfort and familiarity and fostering a deep connection with emotional simplicity. Many fashion trends from the past are iconic and stand the test of time, these fashion pieces often possess a classic and enduring style that continues to appeal to different generations and is beautifully conserved in time.

The Emotional Security: provided by nostalgia fashion is a form of harmless escapism, in times of uncertainty or angst, It allows us to escape from the present and immerse oneself in a different era, which can be comforting and since fashion is cyclical, and designers often revive past trends with a modern twist, this brings previous styles into contemporary relevance, making them accessible to new generations and soothes the choice saturation we face in our day-to day towards something more outlined. This does not mean you can’t color outside of the lines, the precise beauty of vintage clothing is styling and self expression, and this is very custom to each personality.

Photo by Sunny Ng

Individuality: found in nostalgia fashion allows us to have a voice because wearing vintage or nostalgia-inspired pieces can promote standing out from the crowd and convey a unique sense of style and individuality. With cultural and generational revivals we ode the aesthetics and styles of specific decades or movements and it keeps cultural heritage alive encouraging cultural exchange in a time of strong globalization. Of course digitalization plays a strong role in defining nostalgia fashion with the influence of social media, film culture, television shows, music, and personalities and now we can embrace this nostalgia fashion and “yassify” our wardrobes with specific references.

The Accessibility and Sustainability: provided by nostalgia fashion has an important focus on conscious living and has led people to explore vintage and secondhand clothing and not just as a trend, nostalgia fashion aligns with eco-conscious values by promoting the reuse and repurposing of older garments, instead of going to fast fashion, we can prioritize pieces that have fundamentally already stood the test of time. Vintage and secondhand stores, as well as online marketplaces, have also made fashion more accessible and affordable for a wider range of consumer budgets in a time of financial strain.

In essence, our obsession with nostalgia fashion is rooted in a desire to have emotional tranquility, appreciate timeless aesthetics, and find comfort and self-expression through the clothing of previous times without sacrificing ethics. This allows for a blend of the old and the new, creating a sense of familiarity in a constantly changing world.

Author Tanny Onsalo

 As Creative director, fashion forecaster and style consultant, Tanny has worked for the magazine Vogue as Global Editorial Expert and led multiple global tentpole editorials. She directed the fashion forecasting of trends for Vestiaire Collective, spearheading the Fashion Journal, Newsroom and annual fashion data reports. Fluent in the language of ideas, the fundamentals of her narrative are creativity, storytelling and global cool hunting.