From Mad Men to mod, cat-eyed sunglasses to Capri pants, the ’60s are back in full swing. Not necessarily the political convictions or music from that era but the fashions that defined it. That seems to be a reoccurring social phenomenon, doesn’t it? A little over 10 years ago ’70s fashion reappeared on the scene in the form of bell-bottoms and peace sign logos and the mid-2000s saw a second-coming of embarrassing ’80s gear. The intriguing aspect of this isn’t that it happens. Rather, the looming question seems to be why does this happen? Why does society have a penchant for regurgitating past clothing fads?
To answer a question like this, it’s important to comprehend how deep into the social tissue this issue cuts. It seems that this fascination with a previous decade’s style trends goes deeper than just “what’s hot, what’s not”: it’s a continuous study of human behavior. This social phenomena isn’t limited to trend-setting mademoiselles either. Men are slicking their hair into gelled comb-overs.
“Even ’60s men’s suits are really popular, with the whole tapered look that’s been in fashion for a bit,” says Sheena Mordasiewicz of Ottawa’s Ragtime Vintage Clothing.
Caitlin Kenny, associate managing editor at Flare magazine, and an Algonquin College graduate, has a few theories about the surge of Don Drapers and Twiggys. Humans have a natural tendency towards imitation, she says.
“A designer who studies the work of a famous designer like Yves Saint Laurent or Cristobal Balenciaga may naturally be inspired to rework existing styles rather than create something brand new.”
As we know, Kenny adds, great designers often borrow from decades past. While that tendency may seem uninspired, Janet Menger, a graphic design professor at Algonquin College, asserts there is real artistry in enhancing past trends to make them current and relevant.
“Everything has been thought of before—the trick is to think of it again,” Menger says.