TikTok fuels a booming market for early 2000s nostalgia


Older brands, trends and technologies are making a comeback as young consumers desperately pursue slower, less chaotic times.

The big picture: TikTok’s algorithm allows flashback elements to resurface and quickly go viral both on its platform and possibly on other social networks.

Lots of Gen Z TikTok users have gone viral by poking fun at Millennials, but Gen Z users TikTok are also fueling nostalgia for the heyday of Millennials: Trends from the early 2000s are driving the new throwback economy.

  • After years of high waisted jeans grab women’s fashion, hipster jeans and mini skirts – reminiscent of the early 2000s – have made a comeback on the slopes this year.
  • Legacy brands As The hole and Abercrombie and Fitch see their sales explode thanks to flagship items such as classic branded hoodies and 90s straight jeans, which have been featured as trending fashion items on TikTok.
  • Even wired headphones are hot again. TikTok vloggers use the small microphone feature on Apple’s wired headphones as a symbol to speak directly to their audience.

Between the lines: The pandemic has dramatically accelerated the shift to digital media, remote working and virtual social activities.

  • But most Americans – including a majority of Gen Z – say life was better before social media, according to news vote by John Della Volpe, director of polls at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics.

And after: The other generations will also have their turn in the rotation of nostalgia.

  • Vintage stores are see a push among young consumers looking for vintage clothing from the 1980s and 1990s. And the pop music that is going viral via TikTok today, from more recent artists like Doja Cat and Dua Lipa, remember the signature dance-pop sound of the 1980s.
  • Vinyl sales in the United States last year topped CD sales for the first time since 1986, in part thanks to record collectors using the app to find a community and inadvertently go viral. Vinyl sales are up over 100% for the first half of the year.

The bottom line: Whether it’s rekindling old trends or launching new ones, TikTok is where Gen Z sets the tone for cool.

  • Mass stores seeking to attract young users are setting up TikTok sections in their stores, reminiscent of the “As Seen On TV” productions of IT professionals, AP reports.

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