Fashion and pop culture usually have a 20 to 30-year loop. This cycle is particularly strong in Movies and Fashion.


Why it happens

  • It takes approximately 30 years for the young consumers of culture to become the adult creators of culture. These adults then bring back the memories of art and culture of their childhood that brought them comfort as inspiration for their current projects.
  • Other creators, who also lived the same period, follow suit and “indulge in the ‘new’ nostalgic trend that’s being repurposed, creating a kind of feedback loop where all parties involved want to contribute more and more work that revives that same zeitgeist.”
  • These impulses also work for consumers and generates a market of people with disposable incomes who are nostalgic for their childhood.
  • Some aspects of this phenomenon are organic, the personal histories of creators influencing the creation; and some aspects are intentional, with key players using the nostalgia pendulum to attract consumers.
  • The digital age gives the Nostalgia cycles an even bigger push, considering that the memories no longer rely on an individual or a specific memory, it is fed and encouraged online.

The Psychology of Nostalgia

  • A study conducted at USC Dornsife showed that when people are asked to describe something that makes them feel very nostalgic, the positive elements dominate and the memories they bring to mind have a positive influence on how they see their own life.
  • In the past, nostalgia was considered a bad thing by the scientific community; however, recent studies show that nostalgic reminiscence can be a stabilizing force. By the same token, nostalgia can also be correlated to negative feelings.
  • There is a sharp contrast when it comes to when people feel nostalgia. On one hand people tend to feel that way when they are experiencing negative feeling, such as depression or stress. On the other hand, they may experience it when helping others, remembering old friends, feeling inspired or engaged.
  • There is still some debate on whether nostalgia is ultimately a positive or negative experience. (Source 4, corroborated by Source 5)

Nostalgia and Fashion

  • As Jessica Regan, assistant curator for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute stated “We can sit far back in the history of fashion — back to the early 19th century, which was a period of rapid industry and change — and see nostalgia for a preindustrial past, based on romantic notions of chivalry.”
  • According to says Sarah Rose Cavanagh, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at Assumption College, “a certain piece of clothing serves as a retrieval cue, meaning it triggers or helps you bring back to mind some positive memory from the past, that can make you feel good,”
  • Cavanagh also mentions that the feeling can be even more profound when it comes to negative experiences, stating that “My research has shown that this reactivation happens to a greater extent for negative, compared to positive or emotionally neutral memories, which may explain why negative memories often feel so vivid like you are re-experiencing that event when you think about it now.”.


  • As noted before, the Nostalgia Cycles usually have a 30-year time frame, meaning that the influences of a previous decade will return 30 years later when it comes to media and art.
  • That timeframe can vary to 20, 40 or 50 years, depending on the niche.

The Current Cycle

  • We are currently living a return to the ’80s phase of pop culture, with indications to a back to the ’90s era arriving. (Source 6, corroborated by Source 1)



  • Jewelry is one of the most nostalgia inducing items, especially due to its lasting aspect, with some companies exploring that, such as Heart-In-Diamonds, that produces memorial diamonds that are growing in popularity.
  • The Fashion Nostalgia cycles are not a new phenomenon. The power dressing of the ’80s found its origins in the early ’70s. The wide leg jeans of the ’70s were revived in 1995 and the 2000s saw a mix of different styles from different ages, with designers incorporating inspirations from vintage clothing from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.
  • Men’s fashion during the 2000 decade resembled the 80s, incorporating athletic attire into everyday wear.
  • The most trending searches in fashion, according to Google are, 1980s fashion, grunge fashion, 1990s fashion and 2000s fashion.
  • There is a correlation between current fashion trends and Royalty, especially with Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton.
  • According to Depop, vintage clothing, generally meaning clothing that was made at least a decade ago, made up 40% of its sales worldwide last year.
  • Amber Butchart, a fashion historian and lecturer at the London College of Fashion stated that the fashion cycle used to be 20 years, but now it can be five. According to her, “So we’re seeing trends coming back as soon as five years later.”
  • For fashion nostalgia, the ’90s and ’00s are now starting to trend with brands bringing back classics from these eras, such as the low-rise jeans. (Source 13, corroborated by Source 11)

Pop Culture

  • Movies are heavily affected by Nostalgia, with remakes being made at the 24 years mark on average.
  • Stranger Things and IT showcased the duality of nostalgia, the restorative and reflective nostalgia, where the first is impulsed by a motivation to recapture and revitalize an imagined past and the last is escapist in nature and is fixated in a longing for the “good old days”.
  • Nostalgia has inspired musicians throughout the decades. John Lennon once said “It wasn’t a rip-off, it was a love-in.” Musicians mix inspirations from the past with new and pressing issues.
  • Nearly half of current vinyl record buyers are under 25 years old.
  • The same way Americans, Stranger Things and IT brought back the ’80s nostalgia, some of the most iconic ’80s movies like “Back to the Future” and “Dirty Dancing” took place within idealized versions of the ’50s and ’60s, showcasing the “30-year cycle”.


  • The’90s and ’00s should be the next decades to come back in the next years, with some major fashion brands, like Gucci, already bringing back some items from the 90s and fashion brands like Juicy Couture making a come back. (Source1, corroborated by Source 6, Source 8 and Source 18)
Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at The Digital Momentum with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.


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