Fashion Escapism in a World of Overconsumption

By: Ashley Paredes ’25

In an age of rapid growth, it almost seems as if we are growing backwards. We are stuck in a loop of fashion nostalgia, where almost every trend has been recycled from a time passed.

We use this nostalgia to escape from our lives. We romanticize the past to a point where we do not try to create a different future. We see this constantly through fashion.

“Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days,” Doug Larson, American journalist of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, said.

In fashion, there is this vicarious nostalgia for a time of ‘greater fashion’ where we believe things may have been simpler.

Designers like to reference their new designs to the style of the decades they grew up in. It is in their human nature. We try to repeat this, escaping our everyday lives and modernizing fashion of the past.

“Fashion is inspired by youth and nostalgia and draws inspiration from the past of the past,” Lana Del Rey, American singer/songwriter, said.

Approximately every 20 years, long gone fashion trends come back. 

Fashion trends today are seeming to repeat 1990s fashion. Some examples are bucket hats, crop tops and plaid. We also have repeats from the 1970s like bell bottom jeans and chunky jewelry.

“Fashion you can buy, but style you possess. The key to style is learning who you are, which takes years. There’s no how-to road map to style. It’s about self-expression and, above all, attitude.” Iris Apfel, interior designer and fashion icon, said.

After so long of feeling the need to fit current trends, it has become more common to develop individual aesthetics. Being fashionable or on trend is not as important now. People now focus on personal style.

“What I find most interesting in fashion is that it has to reflect our time. You have to witness your own moment,” Nicolas Ghesquière, French fashion designer and current artistic director of Louis Vuitton, said.

Contemporary designers commonly use imagery for inspiration. In an image-based society, it is almost inevitable to backtrack towards once popular fashion trends.

Style of the 19th century is the basis of modern fashion as we know it. It was a time of rapid industrial growth. Department stores and high-profile jewelry brands opened, making the fashion industry prosper. Fashion trends were constantly changing, like today.

Fashion is rapidly changing. We went from bi-monthly or weekly events to everyday street style. With this comes outfits becoming overused and outdated fast. We have run out of ideas and have become much less experimental. Trends are being recycled at a much higher constant rate.

“Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life,” Bill Cunningham, American photographer, said.

Top designers try to create original trends, and they often get vetoed. There is not time to let a new idea sink in in such a rapidly changing market. We live in a society of overconsumption. For designers it is much easier to rely on a once-loved past over a still uncertain future.

“With the modern world changing so fast, we find ourselves hurtling into the uncertainty of the future at an ever-accelerating rate,” Asher Isbrucker, video producer, said.

The world is in denial that fashion needs to be revolutionized. We are refusing to accept new ideas and new trends and are forced to retreat to a past we so long for.

“Fashion should be a form of escapism, and not a form of imprisonment,” Alexander McQueen, British fashion designer, said.

Nostalgia is a longing for a time or place we cannot reach. In trying to reach this ‘perfect’ time, we get stuck. We are stuck in a never-ending cycle of trends and fashion styles that make us think we can live that time once again.

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