Past trends coming back to life thanks to the power of technology


By Natalia Chow

Past trends coming back to life thanks to the power of technology

There is not an ounce of doubt when we say, technology has and continues to alter and evolve our means of interacting, engaging and communicating with the world. As much as we can recount the various means in which technology has imprinted onto the fashion industry whether it be in e-commerce, virtual materials, launches or in production processes, what we are going to discuss is this interesting dichotomy that has emerged where past and old trends are being reinvigorated through modern means (i.e our very familiar social media apps like Instagram, TikTok or even Facebook and Twitter).

Especially in 2021 (thanks to the pandemic) we have become increasingly more intimate and reliant on devices. Spending a day binge-watching Netflix, or hours on end on TikTok or Instagram is something we are no strangers to. Perhaps it comes out of boredom, necessity, working from home or simply to virtually escape the cabin fever we all may have experienced at some point—all nonetheless, take us deeper into the virtual world.


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Every day and every year we a graced with innovations and technologies which make modernity part of our mundane. We’ve noticed past fashion trends like the Old Hollywood glamour, 80s retro, 90s grunge and even the Y2K govern how many people (especially the Gen-Z crowds) emulate their style—many celebrities have also been spotted mirroring these new-old fashion trends. But why? Why has this paradox emerged? We seem to long for nostalgia through the modern and go as far as using our 21st-century technologies to time travel back.

So with all these various styles being revitalised and re-birthed in the guise of the 21st-century person, let’s take a brief look at what styles and trends are bouncing back and more importantly discuss how it all happened.

Social meida has revolutionised how fashion trends, personal styles and tastes are being shared across social media. Rather than fashion solely being communicated and dictated by runway shows, magazines or big fashion institutions—now the everyday person can share their takes, opinions, fashion-discoveries, hacks and styles with strangers across the internet. In short: you don’t have to be a professional to influence, hence the phenomenon of the influencer.


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Emma Chamberlain posing in an 80s-stye outfit

The power of social media has enabled anyone to share any fashion knowledge ranging from traditional garments, ways to recycle clothing, ways to make clothing or as simple as ways to style an outfit—literally, anything and everything is now accessible and shared by the everyday person for the everyday person.

@pepperonimuffinReply to @teehee.tally GRR SMTHING IS OFF WHAT IS IT BAHEJFF MAYBE MY HAIR HELP LOL

♬ original sound – Kirsten

Tiktok user, Kirsten takes style advice from her followers while emulating a Y2K X 80s retro outfit.

So returning to how this ties in with the comeback of the old fashion trends and styles, we have to bring in the natural human sentiments of nostalgia. According to Psychology Today “nostalgia is experienced as an overwhelmingly positive emotion” so it’s unsurprising why it appears in our lives and more frequently during this pandemic. Very simply speaking, we crave the past to escape the confinements of our home and our current (kind of boring) reality, craving “better times” per se. Nostalgia added on top of being bound to our homes plus the accessibility of fashion-sharing and styles has rebirthed the interest of old trends and styles.

Breaking it down even further, looking at each past trend that has made a comeback this year (reminder: Y2K, Old Hollywood glamour, 90s grunge and 80s retro), unlike today’s fashion where perhaps clothes represent a more holistic meaning or aesthetic, these previous styles capture an isolated image and period. Hence why we also seen old films, movies, art, events and cultures being resurfaced and revisited (which ties in heavily with fashion). There was even a trend dedicated to showcasing Gen-Z’s parents as a homage of appreciation of their aesthetic and look on TikTok.

@vivian.anahi& thats on all your guy friends having a crush on your hot mom

♬ youre cute – roxy

A teen on TikTok sharing old images of her mother accompanied with the song ‘Heather’, as part of appreciating her mother and her aesthetic. 

Having said that, the beauty of these various trends existing is that it also allows people to alternate between styles—there is no longer the need or requirement to stick or emulate to just one persona. As versatile and malleable humans are, the fluidity of style and fashion is liberating. Especially with rise of TikTok this precise rhetoric is being shared and promoted: the ability and the beauty for style-switching from different eras, genres and aesthetics while also getting some quick fashion-history lessons at times.

@the.navaroseall these outfits are thrifted head to toe 🙂 ib: @samisgoldie #outfitideas #tiktokfashion #thrifted

♬ I may be single samisgoldie – Sammie Gold

Tiktok fashion influencer, Nava Rose showcasing her various outfits—following a mixture of Y2K and 90s grunge

Fashion is fluid by all its definition; time, gender and style. Fashion is for self expression. One could argue that it’s therefore more just being something of aesthetic and nostalgic intrigue, but one that also represents an extension of what ideas people appreciate and resonate with. For example, Y2K was a fashion era ruled by women in pop culture, so many girls may find that feminine empowerment, Old Hollywood glamour was time of romanticism and as the name entails “glamour”, so perhaps it’s a style that resonates when we feel dreamy, 90s grunge can be for the days we feel more emotional and artistic and finally, the 80s retro was a colourful era of many social changes, thus one that would inevitable ignite inspiration.

It may be far fetched to allocate ideas to style genres, but nonetheless it could reflect how and why these old trends are reemerging through with the rise of technology. Now people have the means to share their appreciation and interpretations of the past to larger masses.  Oftentimes, learning and drawing from previous fashion trends help us in finding our own style in the world of technology and can help us filter through the abundant and (oftentimes) overwhelming options.