There is no doubt that over recent years, young people have endured events that would previously have been described as ‘once in a lifetime;’ a global pandemic and Ukraine crisis just to name a few. These recent years have yielded immense uncertainty and concern on a global level, seeing an emergence of distrust in the future and what it holds. The world we once knew has changed so significantly it is hard to comprehend how humans will be able to adapt to a new world that has been marred by tragedies so unprecedented. For many, the answer appears to be held within nostalgia.
While there are certainly trends that should be left in the past (I’m talking about you, cargo pants), my interest in the resurrection of past trends lies in their ability to allow people to break free of the present and simultaneously find comfort in the past. Modern society has seen a recent yearning for nostalgia specifically seen in the re-emergence of fashion trends such as low-rise miniskirts, zig-zag hair bands, platform sneakers, sweater vests and Princess Diana styled crewneck and bike short outfits, all of which are undeniably making a comeback. These fashion trends are infiltrating highly anticipated fashion shows and runways and are subsequently being remade by designers of high calibre and status, leading to a wave of past trends resurfacing with accessibility. Y2K fashion and 90s trends retell stories of a time that was not so tarnished by large-scale unrest and, whether intentionally or not, propel humanity back to a time where there was hope felt for the future, a feeling that is now hard to muster.
While change and growth are necessary and inevitable to human evolution, there is an anxiety and resistance to change that has only deepened over the last few years. Perhaps the revival of these trends is a response to a loss of control ignited by recent events; the nostalgia that chokers and claw clips provide, a welcomed solace from the uncertainty of our future. Rooting ourselves in a past tied with vibrant stories and memories allows us to feel in control and provides hope for those who feel lost. In this vein, these trends also act as a symbol of connectivity and community, allowing bonds to be formed and conversations to be struck over the collaborative and communal experience that is fashion. Whilst some people may theorise that nostalgia is the enemy of progress and a hindrance of growth, I argue that nostalgia provides a respite and encourages reflection, which can lead to a better and happier future. Also, who wouldn’t want to see double denim looks make a comeback?
Not only is there nostalgia being sourced from fashion, but also movie and television sequels, prequels, remakes and adaptions. The 80s are a popular era to recreate, seen in hit Netflix shows like Stranger Things, where young teens play characters sporting high waisted jeans, white sneakers and wire headphones plugged into Walkmans playing Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill. This provides a visceral and immersive experience, plunging audiences into a pool of nostalgia where they can escape from reality. Revivals of movies such as the recent Top Gun: Maverick sequel serve as an example of society’s obsession with the past and fascination of the feeling that nostalgia elicits. This sequel and its subsequent success (breaking the box office kind of success) is a reminder that the desire for nostalgia runs deeper than denim and velvet of the 90s, and that the need to revisit the past is only growing more fervent.
As much as the re-emergence of low-rise miniskirts, baby braids and crochet clothing items is welcomed, I can’t help but feel concerned about the motives that underpin this aspiration to revisit an era that has long past. Of course, there are reasons behind these trends that are as simple as: they look good. And yes, millennials that were old enough to remember Nirvana but not old enough to fork out money to sport brands like Juicy Couture and Reebok, are now able to relive their 90s fantasy that before was just out of their grasp. However, there is still an uneasiness I feel in the knowledge that perhaps the world has become a place of such unrest, that there is a societal need to sink into nostalgia in order to escape reality.
Chelsea Ryan is a third-year Bachelor of Fine Arts student. She writes to explore the complexities of human nature, whilst focusing on relationship dynamics. She explores her own thoughts and beliefs through creative writing and usually does this through fiction, however, is enjoying experimenting with memoir.
Jackson is a Meanjin based non-binary poet that’s made it their mission to see queer representation become commonplace in Australian writing. Jackson has been published proudly in InkBlot Magazine’s Hot & Sweaty 2021 edition, and QUT Glass Issue #11. Keep up with them at the QUT Literary Salon, by reading the ScratchThat newsletters, or on Instagram at @deku.of.dune