Bringing Nostalgia of yesteryears’ slow lifestyle to today’s fast paced living. Gen Z’s Zen or escape?

The much celebrated phenomenon of Nostalgia hits home for most of us who are born before early 90s, but a new segment is embracing this phenomenon more than anyone- Gen Z, or simply put- people born in and after late 90s.
I read an article a few years ago, that Gen Z feels strongly nostalgic to the decades of 80s and 90s, the times that they haven’t experienced themselves. This comes from the sense of comfort they derive from the simpler, slow life of these decades. Stories from their older siblings, cousins, and even parents/ grandparents glorifying these times have them derive pleasure and a sense of security and belongingness from these second hand memories which is contrary to the fast paced lives in current times, where technology changes every few years, life is fast paced and there is a sense of insecurity and lesser sense of community or belongingness in comparison.

Vintage cassette

The constant need for validation is deep-rooted in today’s youth’s subconscious owing it to ever changing lifestyle, technology, virtual social circles, social media and constant pressure of putting one’s best moments out there for everyone to see. The increasing absence of tactile experiences in day to day life is also making them aloof from their immediate environment and nature as a whole and is dangerously increasing their dependency on social media and virtual worlds.
Hence simple tasks like gardening, crafts, crocheting are picking up quickly amongst the youth as these are simple, monotonous and at times mindless activities which makes the experience therapeutic to them in stark contrast to ever demanding social media, networking, fast paced lifestyle etc.

gardening   crochet

Image source;

This pattern of nostalgia reflects in all walks of life, and is fully embraced by brands and companies across industries. The overall consumer behaviour also shows the same inclination where Gen Z is going back to the 90s for their fashion inspiration, the media and content they consume, the food they eat, the music they listen to. In this way they are also getting sensitised to the idea of handmade, handcrafted and preloved and hand me down concepts.
slow living
Image source- Amazon

In the same manner, the concept of slow living, conscious living is now catching up with Gen Z more than ever. Post Pandemic, the world has woken up to flexibility in all aspects of life both personal and professional be it working from the comforts of your home or leaving city for a slow and fulfilling life, while working remotely. This is helping them reconnect with nature, appreciate the simple things, the joy of creating and living in the moment, and that’s their way of getting a taste of the secondhand nostalgia they feel of the gold era gone by. 

The secondhand nostalgia, is further built strong with trends around Nostalgia and Nostalgia inducing factors on various social media platforms where users have been documenting the previous times in the form of pictures, audio, videos, food items and recipes, clothing, recreational and entertainment tools (read Walkman, hand held video games, ludo, memo books, polaroid, old world colas and sandwich ice creams).

cola old world

            Image courtesy Twitter  top-6-                                            nostalgic-indian-brands-the-80s-and-90s-5678d7686612

The comfort and predictability of old times builds the nostalgic emotion further strongly as it acts as an antidote to the uncertainty and insecurity of face paced current times and brands are building their products and services on this emotion, considering the growing demand and consumption of the said nostalgia.

       A classic example of this is Fujifilm Instax cameras. In the period when camera and camera rolls are long forgotten and are obsolete, they launched Instax – instant polaroid cameras which struck a chord with the older and younger generation alike. For older folks, it was more like reliving the old times, the charm of holding photo prints in one’s hand and keeping them close in their wallets or books whereas for Gen Z it became the cool thing.


Image Source-  Pinterest

I accidentally came across this 90s kit on Amazon which brings together all the cool things we used to do as kids and young teenagers in the 90s e.g. comic books, magic pops, hand held video games, phantom cigarette candies. And these are really a success when it comes to restaurants focusing on experiential offering, themed parties, PR hampers etc.

Image source- Amazon

Trends and fads come and go, but this romance with Nostalgia is here to stay as long as the current times remain fast, stressful and demanding.