Trend Of The Week: Analogue Nostalgia

2020 will inevitably usher in a wave of impressive technological advancements. However, there is another trend—a seemingly conflicting one—happening concurrently. Culturally, aesthetically, and technologically people are craving revivals. As we crossover into a fresh new decade, there is a desire to look back as much as we are looking forward.

This year, we can expect even more TV revivals. Reboots of Rugrats, Lizzie McGuire, and Clueless are rumoured to be on their way. In its annual trend report, Pinterest identified 1990’s nostalgic fashion as a trend that will continue to grow through 2020. In 2019, searches for 90s grunge fashion were up 292 percent, while searches for scrunchies alone surged 6,309 percent! While technological advances seem to plug ahead at hyper speed, it is no coincidence that the decades we are nostalgic for feel distant from the tech of today. For Gen Z, who have always had the force of the internet and smart phones in their lives, there is an element of Anemoia (nostalgia for a time you’ve never known) at play.

Craving realness and authenticity, people are beginning to turn back to analogue for reassuring joy. Vinyl record sales have enjoyed consistent growth over the last few years. Last year, 4.3 million LPs were sold in the UK, marking a 12-year high. Vinyl albums now account for 1 in 8 of all albums purchased in the UK. Cassette tapes are also making a comeback. For the 40th Anniversary of the Walkman, Sony launched a limited edition mp3 player with the aesthetics of the original. Coldplay, after promoting their eight album, Everyday Life, via classified posts in local newspapers, launched it on cassette. 17-year-old, Billie Eilish unveiled her debut album When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? on a lime green cassette, ushering in record high sales on a medium that had already well come and gone by the time she was born. Meanwhile, Urban Outfitters sells a variety of retro-inspired music players to accommodate this trend.  

Music isn’t the only one. Years after instant photography was nearly wiped out by digital, Fujifilm Instax ushered in a rebirth. Gaming is having a similar moment as players are looking to bring back classic games and consoles. This year the Analogue Pocket allows users to play cartridge games from old Nintendo Game Boy systems. Dublin’s first ‘bar-cade’ Token, which is a living tribute to retro gaming and boasts an entire room of vintage pinball machines, hasn’t stopped attracting crowds since it opened. The good ol’ days of flip phones are upon us again as people search for the battery life, durability, and novelty they have to offer. The Nokia 2720 Flip gives people the simplicity of a retro cell phone with some modern upgrades to keep connected.

All this suggests there is a sweet spot between modern and full retro. Brands are wise to capitalise on this wave of nostalgia, especially if there is a legacy to celebrate. Tapping into consumers positive associations and memories helps to forge trust and a rosy glow about your brand. However, we have grown accustomed to certain benefits of technology that most people won’t be looking to part with entirely. Try bringing back beloved products. Draw from retro aesthetics for design. Build on the nostalgic appeal, but always offer a contemporary improvement.