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SpirE-Journal 2013 Q3

Side Click: Is vintage the new trend?

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Side Click: Is vintage the new trend?

Why are we seeing more polka-dot dresses, retro furniture and movies dating back to the 1960s? The answer is the latest consumer phenomenon: the vintage trend. Nostalgic themes seem to be taking the worlds of fashion-wear, interior design and media by storm. Is the vintage trend here to stay?

History is now repeating itself. The vintage trend is back with a bang. Its presence can be felt everywhere, especially in the fashion circuit, interior design industry and in various media platforms, including broadcast and digital; taking us back to a foregone era.

The term “vintage” used in this context refers to products or themes dating back to the time period broadly between the 1920’s to the 1980’s.

According to the theory of postmodern nostalgia by Frederic Jameson, consumers do not necessarily have to live through an era in order to be able to appreciate the quaint value of vintage items. With its nostalgic value and eye-catching attributes, the “vintage” concept is creating ripples across key industries.

Fashion

From vintage weddings in India, to vintage dresses worn at Hollywood’s red carpet, to the interest in apparel from the era of American television drama Man Men and the recent Hollywood remake of The Great Gatsby; the vintage theme seems to be at the forefront of the fashion industry. The emergence of the “fast-fashion” industry through stores like H&M and Zara – who compress the fashion cycle into two to three weeks – has bred consumer fatigue and a preference for fashions with a longer life-span.

Through its timeless pieces, vintage fashion offers a sense of originality and pedigree at lower prices. Vintage fashion also has an alluring effect on the wearers, almost enabling them to take on another identity through their clothing. Vintage women’s clothing represents 40 percent of the total listings under the vintage category on eBay.

Interior design

Online retailers have emerged who specialize in manufacturing vintage furniture, such as Krrb and Furnishly. Not only do these websites offer convenience for the consumers by eliminating the tedious process of scanning various flea markets and local auctions. They also stimulate demand for vintage products in the market.

Media

The vintage influence is also evident through broadcast media. For instance, the critically acclaimed television drama-series Mad Men recorded a whopping 3.4 million viewers for its sixth season. The drama’s accurate depiction of 1960s settings has enraptured audiences and spawned other vintage TV dramas such as Pam Am and the Playboy Club. This trend also received an airing in a few movie releases, including The Stepford Wives, Walk the Line, and The Help, just to name a few.

The “vintage” theme has also gained currency among retailers. For instance, Nailtini, a nail polish manufacturer, launched a “Mad Men” inspired line of colors in collaboration with the show’s designer. Similarly, through the use of “vintage photo filters”, Instagram’s popular application enables users to take a photograph and change its look-and-feel through various effects.

Moving forward

Although some critics have dismissed the vintage trend as a fad, it has undoubtedly gained traction. According to research, the feel good factor associated with the vintage theme is due to the emotive attraction of nostalgia.

Businesses are starting to connect with vintage shoppers through mobile applications. For instance in Europe, a vintage store locator app guides shoppers who are seeking retailers of vintage items. The map directs shoppers to the store in the most fuel-efficient manner.

The trend has also unleashed potential in previously untapped markets, such as vintage goods rentals and vintage events photography. Stores such as Loot and Found have carved a niche market by putting up vintage goods for rent. Cotton Candy Photography has positioned itself as a specialist in vintage events photography using Polaroid and vintage cameras.

The vintage trend does not seem to show any signs of slowing down. Moreover, vintage themes are up for grabs in emerging markets. In Asia and Latin America, few firms have seized first-mover advantage in this domain.

In time, fatigue will inevitably set in. This is not the first time consumer tastes have seen a swing towards nostalgia, and it will not be the last. But for now, the next big marketing campaign should perhaps not be about the next big thing, but about the last.

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