The Nostalgia Economy

The Nostalgia Economy

The Nostalgia Economy 1440 428 Chute Gerdeman

Brands are betting big on nostalgia, and it has left us wondering why the fascination with the past has such a massive imprint on the present. Nostalgia takes on different forms from person to person, with each generation detailing their specific world of nostalgic experiences. “Vintage” is being renewed in modern ways across society in every way imaginable. It’s in the cultural lexicon, how we compare experiences, and it’s showing up widely across retail. From the music that’s charting #1 to the shows, we watch weekly, reboots and nostalgic discoveries dominate our daily lives. It’s no surprise that these themes are making their way into fashion and consumerism, and there’s a good chance it’s here to stay.

Arriving In Style

Some things never go out of style, and classic cars are top of the list. So far this year, classic car sales are over $2.16B and still rising. There’s a massive market for arriving in style, and many brands are making a move to capture the same special feeling a classic car gives you.

While many people would hardly consider 1978 new, Ford recently prototyped their new 1978 F-100 with a modern twist. Under the hood, the new F-100 is completely electric yet still sporting a classic design that collectors know and love. Ford isn’t the only one bringing a classic back into the lineup. Volkswagen recently reissued their iconic bus with “intelligent design.” The new I.D. Buzz leverages the best of modern technology while inspiring current generations to channel their inner roadie and hit the interstate. Both of these concepts lean into a more sustainable approach and ultimately a push to reduce air pollution in a fun and energetic way.

Fashion Meets FOMO

Fear of missing out is part of why icons, stories, experiences, and fashion trends are brought back into the mainstream. Many of us weren’t around to experience 90’s grunge, 80’s neon tracksuits, 60’s bell bottoms, etc., but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a market for it today. Many of the nostalgic trends and styles we once knew are direct influences on today’s consumers.

Denim is arguably the timeless glue bringing retro and modern fashion together (check out our affinity for denim here), but there’s more to the story than meets the eye. The ’90s were wild years for fashion, changing drastically from start to finish. Perhaps the most influential decade in today’s fashion, 90’s style is rampant across major brands like Nike, Adidas, Gucci, and more. The most nostalgic aspect may be how people are bringing forgotten ’90s memories into fashion. Everything from 90’s jazz cups to eclectic graphic design is finding a re-birth in apparel, even inspiring major brands and designers to take notice. Stylus recently listed 90’s sloganism and maximalist designs as a key fashion trend for 2023, and we totally get it. I mean, who wouldn’t want a shirt with a cheesy statement complimented by a million colors and carefree vibes, right?

The Apex of Experience

Let’s face it; there’s a reason why your favorite 90’s show got a reboot. We couldn’t think of anything better, or it was just that damn good. Nostalgia is making its way into how we spend our free time via streaming and social media. Metallica and Kate Bush are currently topping charts, each with songs released nearly 40 years ago. While many would attribute it to their recent airtime on Stranger Things / Tik Tok, we believe it’s something more significant. For many, this is their first introduction to these artists, leading a charge of discovery into a category of music and culture that many never experienced. It’s almost as if these songs were brand new.

Trippy Right?

It doesn’t stop there. Video games and classic activities channel their historical roots, and consumers can’t get enough. Roller-skating is back, and sales are skyrocketing. Pop-up roller discos are all over NYC, giving us a chance to dance the night away, 70’s style. For the gamers out there, developers of the iconic Final Fantasy franchise recently brought back Final Fantasy 7, the second largest PS1 title of all time. Their new adaptation brings modern technology to the nostalgic visions that gamers imagined over 20+ years ago. After selling over 3.5 million copies in just a week, the game is slated for more installments and will trailblaze the PlayStation 5 era of gaming, similar to its origin story with the PlayStation One.

The idea of retro has always been in style; it simply takes on new meaning as time passes. It’s the reason why so many homes were inspired by “mid-century modern” in the 90s, and it’s the reason why fashion can trend backward in a rapidly-forward world. Is it because times were “simpler,” an attempt to recapture the comfort of the way life once was, comfort in the familiar? Regardless, it’s undeniable that retro desires massively influence pop culture. Now, if only they’d hurry up with that Friends reboot.

Let’s Head Back to the Future

Learn more about Gen Z’s future consumer habits here.

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