Fashion is forever changing: the flappers of the 20s had a distinctly different style from the hippies in the 60s. The 80s brought bold, mixed prints, and the 90s brought denim-on-denim grunge. These trends from the 80s and 90s are making a comeback with today’s teen and young adult generation, from the littlest things, such as scrunchies, to big name brands. Today, the millennial generation is wearing the clothing they were brought up on as children.
We can see the emergence of these nostalgic trends during fashion week, the biggest runway show of the season that showcases all of the biggest designers. In 2018, designer Tom Ford presented his take on bringing the 80s fashion trends back while the Dior fashion runway showcased many different 90s trends. The Tom Ford models sported 80s animal prints, shimmer and shine leggings, big hoop earrings, and headbands. Models walking down the Dior runway displayed the 90s grunge look of denim jeans, newsboy caps, band tees, and booties. By fall 2018, these looks were seen in stores such as Urban Outfitters, ASOS, Tilly’s, and Topshop.
Working in retail at Tilly’s during this time gave me firsthand experience with the change of fashion. At the beginning of summer, customers were asking for cabby hats and scrunchies with no luck, but by the start of the school season, the store walls were lined with these and other 90s fashion trends. There were overalls in all different styles and colors, jean jackets, cropped shirts, band tees, plaid pants, and flare jeans all over the store. Big name brands that had not been popular since my parents were my age slowly began filling the tables at my store, and their style hadn’t changed at all. According to Buzzfeed, many popular brands, such as Champion and Adidas, Doc Martens, North Face, and Calvin Klein, are making their way back into stores. Even the smaller brands that were not well known in the 90s caught onto the trends and began making clothing to match that decade’s style.
Stores such as ASOS and Topshop carry more of the 80s-style clothing. These styles include bright prints and mismatched patterns. With fur coats, velour, striped jumpsuits, and shoulder pads in style, different brands such as Guess, Fila, Gucci, and Lacoste are showing off their skills in making 80s wear to modern-day teens and young adults.
The accessories that were popular in the 80s were excessive in their size and style. Accessory companies popular in the 80s, such as Ray-Bans, are making more of a profit than ever before. According to e-commerce, Ray-Ban revenues are up by $150 million since the year 2017. These 80s accessory brands are more in the high-end fashion dollar amount, but they are still selling because consumers will buy the trends that are popular. While 90s fashion seems to be seen in stores that are more affordable for the average person, 80s fashion appears to cater to those with money to spend. However, nostalgia fashion is made, advertised, and sold by many companies and in different retail stores.
A lot of the people wearing nostalgia fashion are a part of the millennial generation. This is due to the impact that social media has had on the younger generation. Companies that use social media platforms such as Instagram are able to target audiences who want to be able to stay on top of trends. Furthermore, due to the internet, younger generations now have access to a plethora of archives of old fashion trends, allowing them to make a comeback. Millennials are known to be a nostalgic generation, and they are now more able than ever to fulfill this impulse easily.
Because most millennials grew up in the 90s, this time period reminds them of a simpler time not filled with the many responsibilities they have now. The trend #throwbackthursday is evidence of that feeling of nostalgia. In an article in Forbes magazine called “Why Nostalgia Marketing Works So Well With Millennials, And How Your Brand Can Benefit,” Laura Friedman writes about how nostalgia allows people to “relive positive memories and positive icons from the past.” Putting a scrunchie in their hair or wearing overalls makes millennials feel more like children, and this feeling of nostalgia allows people to take a break from their hectic work days or to bring fun to their long workdays.
Famous musical artists also caught onto these nostalgia fashion trends and began using them in their music videos. One of the earliest examples of 90s fashion making a comeback in a music video was when Iggy Azalea featured the fashion from the film Clueless in her music video for her song “Fancy.” Clueless epitomized 90s fashion. The protagonist, Cher, was very on top of her fashion trends, even giving a new girl, Tai, a makeover so that she could be on point with her fashion and looks, too. Recently, Ariana Grande brought nostalgia fashion back with her “Thank U, Next” music video, which featured popular films and their styles. Nostalgic millennials helped bring back the 80s and 90s fashion trends, showing that fashion can make a full circle. What trends do you want to see next?