For many, seeing the hairstyles of their childhood return in full force during the pandemic is strange, to say the least. The return of the mullet and mustache combo took off with Gen Z and hit the rest of us like a freight train, an unforeseen callback to the early 70s. Why is it that the fashion and design trends popular with Gen Z have clear roots in styles spanning from the 70s through to Y2K? The answer is rooted in three main areas: cyclical trends, slow fashion, and introspective isolation.
With how drastic fashion changes in our lifetimes, it is up to the experts to point out the subtle repeated effects that create the 15-to-20-year fashion cycles. Fashion returns to past trends and revamps them into contemporary sensibilities every few decades. Gen Z shamelessly adopting hairstyles, outfits, and interior design aspects from previous decades, most of which focus on the Y2K era, proves that. That said, these cycles occur for a reason beyond rebelling against their parents’ styles, so why has Gen Z gone full force into an aesthetic 20, even 50 years their senior?
Sustainable or ‘Slow’ Fashion
When it comes to clothes and décor, a significant factor in the return to “vintage” styles is the increasingly important concept to the generation: sustainability. As the fashion industry is analyzed under a microscope by consumers, Gen Z gives more attention to slowing the mind-bendingly rapid pace of production. Thrifting inspires modern looks, and the most prized clothes to find in these secondhand shops are the more iconic pieces from the 70s, 80s, and 90s, especially when they pay homage to the cultures and artists that Gen Z knows.
An Introspective Isolation
If you wonder why 2020-2021 showed such drastic aesthetic changes, look to the pandemic. Isolation provided a unique opportunity for young adults and teens to reflect on their style in a way that lacked the immediate judgment and feedback present in social circles. They spend more time indoors, and many took the opportunity to interact with their style more intimately than they had before.
Experimentation with personal style birthed a return of the mullet. It allowed for other bold choices, from donning Beyonce’s scarf top to the rebirth of funky tuft rugs for their rooms.
Though some of the trends are the same things that the generations they’re emulating were later mocked for, the fashion and design trends popular with Gen Z exist in an unprecedented environment. As you start to see these trends blossom, keep an eye out for how the new generation improvises with the looks you remember and create something new that you may love. Even now, people reconsider animal prints for the home, and skinny jeans are no longer the only acceptable denim out there: two trends given their power back by Gen Z.