A recent, ill-advised trip to the mall made me feel as though I had stepped into some kind of time machine and spat back out into the formative years of my youth, when neon and oversized clothes were all the rage. It got me thinking about long begotten fads and crazes that are getting a second (or third or fourth) life, and why.
In the capitalist society we inhabit, trends in fashion, food and other commodities are rooted in what big brands think will get them the most bang for their buck. And nowadays, the age group that stands to inherit the most amount of money – and that is also currently the most populous generation in America – is the Millennials.
Millennials are well known both for reveling in nostalgia – and throwing money at whatever can transport them back to simpler times. Just last week I walked into Target and found two oversized t-shirts printed with 1990s-era album covers by Britney Spears and NSYNC, and if it weren’t for the fact that I absolutely cannot stand crew necks, you can bet I would’ve snapped those babies up in a second.
Thanks to our collective spending clout, and our nostalgia for days gone by, here are a few things Millennials have successfully revived in recent years (whether the rest of you like it or not):
’90s Fashion: I am decidedly in the “not” camp on this one, but our staff writer Alena Maschke delightedly plunks herself on the “yas please” side of this fence. (Our office divisions have never been greater. You could cut the tension with a butterfly clip.)
Perhaps it is because we’re yearning for the simpler days of yore, when Buffy the Vampire Slayer traipsed across our screens in plaid miniskirts and chokers, TLC lit up our screens with glitzy athleisure and streetwear, and the Fresh Prince blinded us with his neon menagerie of oversized t-shirts: ’90s fashion is back. And, as I recently discovered upon making the mistake of entering an actual mall (something many a magazine writer has lamented that my generation is “killing”), you can once again buy every single one of these items of clothing. Your local mall is brimming with jelly shoes just waiting to adorn your toes in blisters. Good times are here again!
As a caveat to my distaste for this trend’s tendency to give me flashbacks to “free dress days” at my uniformed Catholic grammar school, I will say I do rather enjoy the re-popularization of the oversized flannel shirt as an acceptable statement piece. No need to squish into a tight top for a night out on the town anymore, y’all! Just put on a flannel tent, add some boots and you’re good to go. It’s a carb-eater’s dream come true.
Brewing: As Marketwatch reported in May, “Millennials spend more on craft beer than they do on their cell phones and utilities.” Is it me, or do I detect a hint of judgement in that declaration? So what, if we want to stand in the dark in an unheated shower while sipping on an $18 growler from Beachwood Brewing, adorably named Dia de los Mangos? Who needs to call our families when we can have a beer that tastes like sour dried mangos rolled around in tajin? In tajin, you guys! You think you’re better than us with your hot showers and your lights and your unlimited data usage. Who’s elitist now? Pish-posh, you olds.
Wine: Are you noticing a theme here? We like booze. Specifically, the good stuff. Once we have literally any amount of discretionary income, you will no longer find us as you did in college, exiting Ralph’s with a magnum of Barefoot White Zinfandel. Nope. We only go in for the classy (but still affordable) stuff now, thank you very much.
Think about how hard it used to be to find rosé in any grocery store. Then, a bunch of Millennials graduated college, backpacked in France or Spain or wherever, realized that wine is actually good, and voila – we have a new supermarket staple all year round, not just during the summer. I mean, if you have the sense to pick it up at Trader Joe’s, you can actually find the French stuff for like eight bucks.
Don’t believe me? In 2016, the nonprofit Wine Market Council found that 42% of all wine consumed in the United States was by Millennials. A flurry of articles suggesting how to market wine to that age group followed.
But while our grocery stores are now fully stocked with a wide variety of vino, it looks like the future growth of wine sales is less certain. According to Silicon Valley Bank’s latest State of the Wine Industry Report, cannabis legalization is distracting some Millennial consumers from wine.
Oh well. Enjoy it while it lasts, wino-s.
Protesting: Do I really have to explain this one? You say we must have time to be regularly yelling on the streets because we don’t have jobs. We say we don’t have time for your excuses, but we do have time to rail against the destruction of society. Let’s agree to disagree.
Houseplants: In April, the New Yorker ran a charmingly titled piece, “The Leafy Love Affair Between Millennials and Houseplants,” highlighting a “growing cohort of young plant obsessives” among the Millennial generation. A few days prior, Bloomberg published an article called, “The One Thing Millennials Haven’t Killed Is Houseplants.” Well, I beg to differ there, Bloomberg. I have killed several succulents in the past few years.
The National Gardening Association’s annual research on the gardening industry found that houseplant sales have increased 50%, and pointed to the Millennial generation as the driver. Just what is making us fill our homes with leafy companions? I’m probably the last one who could tell you. I stray from keeping anything in my home that might appeal to spiders. But from what my plant-loving friends and neighbors tell me, they get a kick out of caring for their plants much like they would a pet or a kid, but without the accompanying stresses (or monetary commitment).