From Tumblr to TikTok, Brands and the Reinvention of Nostalgia

Leaning into the next new, old craze

Even when we try to escape a culture trend from the past, there's a TikToker somewhere trying to make it cool again. Remember the bedazzled Von Dutch hat from 2007? Or the viral dance craze fueled by 2010 pop songs like "Gangnam Style" and "Harlem Shake"? Yeah, they've recently come back.

That's the cool thing about nostalgia. It's cyclical. And TikTok has made it easier for old fads to trend like wildfire. We see this predominantly in FashionTok; we are amid a wild resurgence of '90s and '00s fashion trends, and even if TikTokers weren't old enough to partake back then, they aren't wasting any time in participating now. TikTokers like @tinygirlbigclothes and @tinyjewishgirl, for example, thrive at this and have built a community of followers as a result.

FashionTok isn't the only niche where we are seeing old trends find new life. BeautyTok is bringing back thin eyebrows à la Drew Barrymore in '98 and the blush application you'd see in a '94 Chanel runway show. MusicTok is remixing '10s hits with tunes that would have played at a dance club in '91. And even DesignTok is getting in on the nostalgia craze by showcasing living room setups that replicate a '92 Better Homes and Gardens magazine. All this to say, TikTokers have an obsession with the past, and it's only going to grow stronger.

Where will nostalgia take us in 2022? All the signs point to the inevitable rise of 2013's Tumblrcore. Think stud-embellished skinny jeans, gothic clothing and makeup, black-and-white vinyl records and the "IDGAF" mentality that ran rampant throughout that year. Are we just as scared as you are? Absolutely. But we must remember this was the time of free expression and self-exploration for millennials. As for Gen Z, it was a time when they would look up to their older siblings and think they were the coolest person in the world for wearing Dr. Martens every day and knowing every Paramore lyric. This era symbolized the eradication of what society told teens they should be and led to a whole new, badass generation that won't take no for an answer. This is what Gen Z is already setting out to do, isn't it? That looks pretty cyclical to us.

So, what does this mean for your brand?

Wherever nostalgia takes us in 2022, it's important that you not only recognize the conversations happening on social media but participate and integrate yourself within them. If Tumblrcore does, in fact, come back, use that to your advantage. When creating original music, for instance, don't be afraid to lean into the indie/punk genre to promote your brand. If you're a makeup brand, it may be in your best interest to start showcasing some edgier, "hipster"-tinged looks on your feed. All that to say, social listening is key.

Whatever era your audience transports themselves back to this year, be sure to not only follow along but steer the ship.

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Evan Horowitz
Evan Horowitz is CEO and co-founder of Movers+Shakers.

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