If there’s one thing millennials love, it’s nostalgia. For when? Doesn’t matter. Sometimes, they haven’t even lived it and are merely experiencing a false sense of the emotion called vicarious nostalgia. This fixation is evident most notably on their instagrams and other social media outlets, where color schemes and photo treatments reminiscent of past eras takeover feeds.
That nostalgia has been influencing outfits, as well. For millennials, nostalgia is particularly strong when it comes to the 80s and 90s (their childhoods), but the internet has given this demographic the ability to mesh different era-specific trends together in one. The days of constructing and debuting entirely new fashion styles are fading to a new trend of era-bending, where a whole outfit consists of statements pieces from years past.
Looking back at the 50s crooners, 60s hippies and 70s disco-dwellers, it’s evident that the young adult demographic defines popular fashion. In the age of the internet, it’s never been more well documented, either. Nostalgia has always been an influence in fashion, but social media has taken that influence to another level.
Next time you’re in any large department store, take note of the pastels in the clothing sections and the graphic tees (Nirvana and Britney Spears are already stocked on shelves!).
Some fashionable shoppers are looking past the department stores’ definitions of what nostalgic trends are worthy of a mainstream comeback and are instead digging deep on the internet for original vintage finds and interesting alternatives. Ultimately, these internet-savvy millennials are defining vintage culture in the 21st century. Let’s first look at why millennials are choosing vintage.
“Fast fashion” is pretty top-of-mind for mindful consumers looking to make an impact on the culture of fashion. Often, department stores will churn out popular clothing at questionable rates. Many exposes have offered up images of poor conditions for workers supplying many mainstream brands. As a result, consumers have turned to the internet and vintage stores to find clothing designed before any knowledge of unethical tidings.
When asked about the appeal of vintage shopping, many enthusiasts will tell you: “The Hunt” is what makes it an addiction. That hunt has never been better, as the internet has allowed for a vast selection of deep dives for vintage shoppers. Millenials are best equipped to navigate such depths, and have in turn shaped what obscure trends will be at the forefront of pop culture.
Self Expression… Online
One word: Instagram. This social media platform has shaped pop culture more than anything in the 21st century. The photo-based platform allows fashionistas the opportunity to show every outfit – sometimes up to three times per day (y’know, one look for brunch, another for afternoon outings, and another for nightlife). The major buzzword for this generation is “aesthetic.” Numbered are the days of scattered, unidentifiable outfits. Now, every ‘fit must match an aesthetic. With due credit to the internet, vintage is now being taken to the cusp of costume. Individuals hoping to achieve full-throttle retro-looks can now snag every necessary accessory online.
Many millenials are riding on budgets, so vintage and retro looks can offer up great savings. Whether shopping in physical stores or checking out online, savvy shoppers can snag items on high discounts. Whereas before the internet age, vintage shoppers were confined to the assortment of bargain shops geographically available, shoppers can now find those same great deals online.
The Glory of the Internet
The beauty of the internet is one can find some pretty obscure, underground stuff. Millennials love looking unique, so whether it’s obscure retro finds or upscale vintage gear, the internet almost certainly has what they’re looking for. Once an unique item has been identified, internet-savvy folks will in turn snap a pic of their find and the trends snowball accordingly.
So, what can we expect for the future of vintage fashion? With the introduction of online shopping, the evolution of vintage fashion will be swift. As with all vintage, multiple trends from various eras can be combined into a complex, layered outfit full of history. Era recreation can now be elevated by the accessibility of online stores carrying the fine details of outfits. We live in an era where ironic pink ladies bomber jackets can be easily paired with ascots, aviators, bell bottoms, and some classic saddle shoes. Whereas in the past only costume designers could achieve such a network of fashion access, the internet has now opened pandora’s box. And who better than the internet generation, millennials, to define how the internet shapes fashion?
Here, we see a combination of a 1970s font (Cooper) paired with high waisted capris straight from the 1990s. The haircut is reminiscent of the 1940s, while the sunglasses can be traced back to the common round frames of the 1960s.
Another prime example of millennials mixing trends from various eras! Here, we’ve got a retro satin bomber jacket, some pin striped capris (very 1950s!), and some white ankle boots (hello, 1980!).
What can we tell about the forecast of vintage fashion as millennials are defining it?
Look no further than social media for trends and ensembles. Pair a vintage outfit with a retro filter and you have a unique aesthetic that’s defining an eclectic era.