They say everything eventually comes back into style if you wait a few decades. Pop sensation Taylor Swift even alluded to the phenomenon in her recent, chart-topping album when she said: “I come back stronger than a ’90s trend.” And TSwift may just be on to something.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, of course nostalgia feels great. At least that’s how Mindy Gale, CEO of creative PR & digital marketing agency Gale Branding, put it. “Trends come back because it feels like ‘well, they worked once before, so they’ll work again.’ We say it’s cyclical. Everything comes back, but in a little bit of a different way.” The hit Netflix show “Bridgerton” was one example After it premiered internet searches for corsets rose by nearly 100%.
Roller blading, puzzles and board games have all seen an uptick in popularity since the pandemic began. According to the NYPost, Google search interest for roller skates reached a five-year high in early May 2020. Viral videos of people doing TikTok dances on roller skates have frequented the app since last spring—the tag #rollerskating currently has 4.3 billion views.
Gale explained that this resurgence in trends is part of a desire for not only physical and in-person intimacy, but for technology-free spaces. “Board games are a thing again, and a lot of that is because of the pandemic,” said Gale. “People were so overloaded on Zooming and backlit screens that board games started to sell through again, and also puzzles. They’re games that we used to play physically together in a room.”
So how do brands go about marketing these old trends to a new generation? Community involvement is key. “The younger generation is very aware of giving back,” she said. “Years ago it wasn’t like that. Today, it is an integral part of rebranding.” Amy Agramonte, a University of Miami marketing professor and CEO of digital marketing company Blonde Concepts, said that she always asks her clients to describe themselves. “Once people in brands understand exactly what that is, it is much easier for them to organize their message,” she said. “A lot of times companies will rebrand because they’ve been unclear or too basic about who they are. They don’t stand for anything in particular and so, they stand for nothing.”
Y2K style is everywhere lately, from butterfly clips to space bun hairstyles and tiny neon tank tops. This year, both Prada and Dior re-released purses and prints from the early 2000s, and the trends have trickled down to Instagram boutiques like @shopcolorfulnatalie, whose marketing centers on 2000s nostalgia.
Sami Ryan is an Los Angeles-based womenswear company whose collaboration continuously sells out over online boutique REVOLVE and the Sami Ryan website. They reimagined the cuddly stuffed animals of our childhoods, Care Bears, on stylish baby tees.
Trucker hats have also been redone by brands like Aviator Nation—but nothing trumps the classic VonDutch trucker hat, which can be seen on the heads of UM students at the pool on any given Saturday. Even Greek Organizations and retailers nationwide have hopped on to this trend, revitalizing formerly outdated brands like VonDutch and Bass Pro Shops by stamping letters on it.
Matchy-matchy vibes popularized decades ago are also back, but in a new way. According to whowhatwear.com, three-piece swimsuits, a bikini with a wrap skirt, are the hottest swim trend of the year.
words_scarlett diaz. photo_julia dimarco. design_giselle spicer.
This article was published in Distraction’s summer 2021 print issue.