Why Does Fashion Always Look Back?


If you were to look around on any street corner, you may notice the reoccurrence of decade old fashion trends and staples. This is not unusual; rather, it is something that happens often within the fashion world. Trends will re-root themselves, sooner or later, even if some may wish that they didn’t. (I am looking at you, palazzo pants.) 

As New York Fashion Week came to an end celebrities, artists, designers and stylists alike flocked to London for their own fashion week. According to a recent article from The Guardiantitled "Now-stalgia: Why Fashion is Obsessed with Looking Back," London Fashion Week featured many flash-from-the-past elements. 

From Ryan Lo's fantasia collection, which featured, ruffled clothing and balloon trousers, to Ashley William's collection that pulled inspiration from a teenage girl who cuts her own hair, the theme was clear.

"Both collections followed the trend for “now-stalgia”, the idea of using a patchwork quilt of memories to make something current. It’s big in 2016, from Stranger Things to Drake’s love of the Cheesecake Factory," The Guardian reported.

Just as in London, this theme of "Now-stalgia" is ever-present and thriving in the states. The 80's and 90's trends are popping up in both small and large statements. Chokers, mini-skirts, denim overalls, bright hair scrunchies, round sunglasses and off-the-shoulder tops are resurfacing in wardrobes across the country.

Nostalgia is a powerful tool. As The Guardian put it, "Nostalgia not only provides us with a safety net at a time of political or economic instability, it allows us to engage with the stylistic elements at a distance."

The article makes the argument that the pre-internet age of fashion can be seen as interconnected trends and pop-culture moments with a new, original difference in style. It is also said that the past trends have been "fetishized" by Tumblr and Instagram accounts. New styles mixed with the old, The Guardian says, are being dictated by these platforms. 

Why does fashion always look back? It is important to note that while new trends are always forming, the familiarity and remnants of the past will always reveal itself in one way or another. In the fashion world, you could argue that incorporating old styles into our wardrobes is our way of showing where we came from, artistically. It is the "Now-stalgia."

"As our reference points bounce from the fashions in Clueless to My So-Called Life, now-stalgia exists with less ironic distance and more joy as the architecture for fashion now."

Some choose to embrace the “Now-stalgia” wholeheartedly. Others incorporate it lightly within their chic new trends. I think that this resurfacing offers unique spins to outfits as well as lets us experiment in how to wear things differently than beforehand.

Speaking for myself, I think “now-stalgia” is not a bad thing, but something that unites us all through our fashion choices. Wear what makes you feel happy, confident and what you love. That is what fashion is all about.