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A Generation That Looks to The Future and Yearns For The Past

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

The tech savvy and culturally invested generation, typically dubbed “Gen Z,” has created a new type of nostalgia, one that reflects upon the past of their own early 2000s childhood while simultaneously romanticizing a different kind of upbringing from a time before they were born. 

Record players, film cameras and cassette tapes are all devices that were dawned and adored when “Boomers” were in the hot seat of youth. However, if you were to take a peek into the rooms of 10 trendy teenagers or the cars of five hot twenty-somethings you would not only find these items, but see them sitting cozily next to a shiny new AirPod case and the latest Apple Watch.

Similarly, “vintage” clothing and hairstyles have made their way back onto the mood boards of Gen Z-ers. If you go onto TikTok or YouTube and get even a glimpse of the fashion young consumers are promoting, you would see lots of clothing pieces all collected from various thrift and vintage stores. However, these pieces are not in opposition to anything new the generation is cooking up on their own. Many of these vintage items are worn with new and unique fashions true to the current decade. 

So what is it about these outdated pieces of technology and forgotten style trends that have Gen Z obsessed, when they’ve already been upgraded and “perfected” by men in black turtlenecks and self-proclaimed fashion critiques? Why are young people integrating the popular items of their parent’s past into their own present? 

My personal take, from a Gen Z consumer who takes turns posting sharp iPhone photos on Instagram to pasting handfuls of polairds on my bedroom walls, is the humanistic crave of  simplicity. 

There comes a time when even the convenience of perfection feels overwhelming. It’s the simplistic and physical nature of these devices and styles that are so enticing to new consumers. However, I still feel as though I need my iPhone and other smart-gadgets to stay up to date and relevant among my peers. 

Growing up in the age of “Facetune” and “Photoshop,” there is a weight lifted after each snap of a photo taken with film. It captures real emotions, real moments and real faces. No more skinny waists and blemish free faces. Only red eyes and blurry smiles to capture as keepsakes.

Growing up with iTunes as the one-click source for music consumption, vinyl records and cassette tapes gives a never-before chance for Gen Z to experience their music by hand. The music of the past is the sound of the future with static lining the notes we dance to. 

Inevitably, the next generation will laugh at us as they listen to One Direction on their vintage iPod Nano’s and take photos with their bedazzled flip phones. Until then… just leave us the hell alone.  

Elizabeth Coyne

Sacred Heart '23

Fashion Merchandizing and Marketing Major Lover of all things Pink!
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