Newstalgia Psychology

Many clothing fashions and styles of previous decades have experienced resurgence in popularity, with Nike blazer trainers and 1970s-inspired floppy hats once again featuring prominently in high street retail stores.  Meanwhile, we have seen an explosion of second-hand clothing and vintage stores to cater for the demand in classic styles of clothing.

Nike's basketball shoe from the 1970's.

Nike’s basketball shoe from the 1970’s.

Psychologist Dr Glenn Wilson says Brits are increasingly embracing symbols of the past through fashion and other means but many aren’t necessarily willing to let go of modern comforts.

“In post-recession years of austerity, it’s not unusual for consumers to find comfort and reassurance in things that remind them of the past, from fashion to television programs and ironically even state-of-the-art gadgets. But at the same time people won’t compromise on the everyday modern technology they’ve become used to — giving birth to this new trend of modern products, but with a classic look and feel”, says Dr. Wilson.

“I think probably what’s happening is that technology is trying to move so fast, and people want to stay with it, but they begin to get anxieties and insecurities and are looking for a bit of driftwood to cling on to. Hence, modern technology with a classic design is the perfect way of compromising.”

The cherished Polaroid classic, the OneStep SX-70

The cherished Polaroid classic, the OneStep SX-70

However, it’s not just new products with a classic twist that are becoming sought after, with many old or antique electronic and technological gadgets also increasing in popularity, despite in many cases being technically inferior.

Following the announcement that Apple was stopping production of the original ‘classic’ Ipod, versions of the model were being sold for close to £600 — more than double their original retail price — on online sites like eBay and Amazon, amid a huge surge in demand.

This trend has also seen the resurgence of formerly popular products, like Polaroid cameras and vinyl records. Vinyl sales are at an 18-year high in the UK, with more than one million copies sold in 2014.

FSA agricultural workers’ camp. Bridgeton, New Jersey, 1942.

FSA agricultural workers’ camp. Bridgeton, New Jersey, 1942.

Dr. Wilson notes that along with ‘new-stalgia,’ traditional emotions of nostalgia are also well and truly alive in the Britain, and he says that the revival of the jukebox as a party novelty is seen as a sign of people wanting to enjoy something real and tangible as we move towards an increasingly digitalised world.

While nostalgia has always been around as an emotion, it seems that the pressures of modern society might be driving more intense feelings of longing for the past.

“I think there might be other factors that are tweaking or exaggerating it right now. Austerity could be one of them; again that often makes for insecurity. However all of the complexities in the modern world, terrorism being one, will lead people to look for familiarity and stability wherever it can be found,” Dr Wilson said.

With retro clothing, Polaroid cameras and vinyl records popular once again, it seems that more and more Brits are turning to the past for comfort as we continue along in this increasingly uncertain modern world.

Although a desire for past styles appears to be a constant in society, what isn’t known is just what will be the next ‘vintage’ trend, and when will our current fashion and style become becoming classic once again.

For more information on the psychology of new-stalgia , check out our source, Sputnik News.

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