I’m pretty sure that if I asked people to hold their hands up if they felt the world was too confusing and changing at too fast a pace, most people would do so. The world we currently live in is causing people to reflect on simpler times, which goes a long way to explaining why nostalgia is booming and retro goods have become so sought-after.
It might surprise some that there is a proven direct link between well-being, retro and nostalgia. It’s not a secret that nostalgia makes people feel good, but it goes much deeper than that. Studies have shown that nostalgia/retro can have some extraordinarily positive effects on the body.
Embracing nostalgia has been shown to help people focus on cultivating meaningful relationships and encourage them to pursue life goals. It also boosts optimism, fosters creativity and sparks inspiration. And for the older generations, it makes them feel energetic and youthful.
The big lure of retro and nostalgia is its direct link to simpler times. Days when money wasn’t the overriding goal, a time when family, consideration for others and kindness were put ahead of materialism and ego.
Nostalgia and retro are the perfect antidote to these stress-filled times, which are being made more confusing by the plethora of wearable tech, autonomous vehicles, smart homes, virtual reality or, most recently, Chat GPT, all of which are seemingly overhauling our everyday lives at a rapid pace.
In late 2021, an NFT of Pak’s ‘The Merge’ became the most expensive digital art ever sold after obtaining a whopping $91.8 million – and, perhaps more interestingly, the digital artist’s creation sold for more than its physical counterpart. This was followed by reports of a virtual Gucci bag selling for more than $4,000 on the online gaming platform.
There’s no denying that there’s a clear love for all things digital in 2023, but there’s been a resurgence of something else as of late. Something which entirely breaks the mould of the above.
Yes, retro is very much having its revival. It’s not only iconic and groundbreaking, but it’s also pretty heart-warming too! With this in mind, we thought we’d take a look at how retro is filling a very much sought-after gap in the market.
Nostalgia in a time of crisis
During times of uncertainty, it’s suggested that we all search for something familiar that can prove comforting. And what’s more comforting than those things that we grew up with? Rather than the new, let’s indulge in the old – the stable.
When the pandemic struck, and lockdowns ensued, that’s exactly what we did as a nation. From painting by numbers to crocheting and jigsaws, Britain very much reverted to the life of yesteryear.
While a rather bleak period of confinement for many of us can’t be considered the only reason the things we’re about to move on to boomed in popularity, it certainly played its part.
According to Spotify, the eighth most popular type of listener in 2022 was the ‘time traveller’ – someone who the streaming platform described as, “looking out for music regardless of when it was released.”
This was echoed by Kate Bush’s 1985 single ‘Running up that Hill’ charting at 4th in Spotify’s ‘Most Listened to Singles of 2022’.
2022 also witnessed another nostalgic revival, the highest number of vinyl sales in the UK since 1990, with 5.5 million units sold. While contemporary best sellers Taylor Swift and Harry Styles ranked number one and two, there were some pretty spectacular entries for the likes of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams, Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, and Nirvana’s Nevermind, ranking 5th, 11th, and 13th respectively.
Arguably gaming is advancing at the fastest pace ever, with virtual reality and handheld gaming becoming so easily accessible to the masses. Despite the launch of PS5 and Xbox Series X, many people’s interest lies solely in playing the classics.
In the past couple of years, we’ve witnessed retro games like Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and Asteroids ported over from classic gaming systems to modern-day, 4k architecture. Then came the reimagination of the hugely popular Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario Bros titles – two releases whose successes fuelled the remarkable performance of the Nintendo Switch console.
Sales data revealed by the Japanese video game company and plotted against that of the PS3, PS4, and PSP devices showed the astronomical pace at which the Switch surpassed the 100 million units sold mark.
Styling inspirations from an iconic decade of the past is by no means a new phenomenon. Fashion trends have their time, phase out, and then come back around again – some would say, “that’s just how the world works”. But, the current ‘vintage’ trend we’re going through is bigger than those we’ve experienced before.
Accelerated by a desire to find chic, sustainable clothing, reselling platforms Depop and Vinted are very much having their time in the sun. Depop, launched in 2011, has more than 26 million registered users worldwide. Vinted then has proved a major hit with sellers thanks to the fact it doesn’t take a cut from those shifting their old garments, instead charging a fee to buyers that provides them with protection when purchasing second-hand clothing online.
We’re seeing definite hints of nostalgia on the high street, particularly regarding footwear.
There are few shoe brands that have a stronger association with retro than New Balance, and leading British footwear retailer schuh has found that New Balance sales grew by 78% YoY between 2022 and 2023 while the ever-popular New Balance 327 style witnessed YoY growth of 135%.
Speaking about the biggest vintage trends of 2023 to Vogue, Cherie Balch notes, “I think the smart stylist will look into different decades beyond just the ’90s.” While Brynn Jones added, “I would love to see a ’50s revival in 2023.”
From retro experiences to retro design, we’re heavily immersing ourselves in a world that’s looking backwards to see what can be reintroduced into today and, ultimately, made better. The question is, are you going to embrace the nostalgic revival and enjoy all its incredible benefits, or are you ready for the stress of being a future-first fanatic?
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