In recent years, a revitalization of old technology from the early 2000s and even as early as the 1980s made a rampant return among today’s youth. Previously deemed outdated technology such as flip phones, Walkmans, record players, and wired headphones are all making a visible comeback. The real question is, why now?
This fad, or at least a part of it, is thanks to celebrities such as Bella Hadid, Zoë Kravitz, and Hunter Schafer, who participate in trends like wearing wired earbuds instead of modern, wireless options. This choice in technology even gained exposure from high-influence fashion names like Vogue, turning the use of classic-style earbuds into a fashion statement.
The rise in old technology can also be attributed to the revival of early 2000s Y2K fashion, often associated with things like low rise jeans, bedazzled clothing and accessories, bright colors, and cropped tops.
Social media platforms like TikTok have also had a major impact on its revival, with Y2K styling tips that feature 90s tech going viral. These videos also include bedazzled flip phones and iPod classics being used as functional accessories.
The use of older technology can actually be seen as something beneficial and serve as a way to combat the high waste and hyper-consumerism of new technology. With big brands like Apple and Samsung releasing new models regularly, the cycle of supply and demand of newer tech creates unnecessary waste. When many tech companies made the switch from wired earbuds to wireless earbuds by removing the headphone jack in 2016, they created an unspoken requirement for consumers to buy the newest set of headphones or earbuds available along with their phone.
A trend that focuses on bringing old technology back to life could be just enough to break the consumer mindset of technology. Not everyone is willing to pay over $500 for Apple AirPods Max headphones, many would rather gravitate toward an older set of wired headphones. This trend is accessible in terms of affordability and encourages upcycling alongside secondhand purchasing.
By popularizing items that are relatively cheap, the trend challenges idea that expense equals fashionability. TikTokers and other social media influencers also created an emphasis on sustainability by highlighting how upcycling is an alternative way to express creativity in fashion.
However, one downside is that the overall quality of older technology doesn’t always compare to the quality of newer technology. Many of these pieces are less likely to have ideal features such as noise cancellation, or an advanced comfort fit. It depends more on what the customer is prioritizing, whether that’s appearance, comfort, sound quality, or affordability.
However, high cost does not always equate to higher quality. Overall, it really depends on individual preference.
Fashion trends are repeating themselves in ways that encourage sustainability and new perspectives on hyper-consumerism in regards to clothing and accessories.
While there is much more work to be done, this revitalization fad promotes creative individuality, allowing technology to best fit its wearer’s ideals.