Oh Snap! The 90s are Back
On a social media mission, LIMA’s marketing team ventured to Urban Outfitters in Midtown this week – and walked right back into 1994. Babydoll dresses, chokers, overalls, track suits, plaid… it has all returned like a re-run of My So Called Life.
The yen for all things 90s extends far beyond fashion, though, with studios reviving everything from Trolls to Full(er) House to Cruel Intentions, while novelties like Furby, Lisa Frank and Crystal Pepsi are popping back onto the shelves.
Our visit got us thinking about why the 90s resurgence has been so strong – and who it is strongest for.
Hillary: “Born in the very early nineties, I do consider myself a nineties kid… But I wasn’t rocking Doc Martens in first grade (a missed opportunity). The appeal to me as a Millennial is that these trends, so popular during my formative years, remind me of a time when I thought what teenagers were wearing was so cool, so the idea of being able to rock these things as an adult is a no-brainer. I wasn’t allowed to wear chokers and Docs then, but I’m a grown woman now – are you reading this, mother? – and if I want to spend my money on an X-Files t-shirt, you better believe I’m going to do it.
“The craving for me goes beyond fashion trends. I know brands are constantly asking ‘how to target Millennials,’ and I have to say, reviving our old favorites is quite a way to do it. Be it arrested development or just craving the simplicity of youth, efforts to bring back shows like MTV Unplugged and Daria are extremely appealing to the generation who grew up on them – and this is a phenomenon that just keeps rearing its head. Do I even need to mention the Millennial love of Pokemon GO? The properties and brands we grew up on are something we already have a soft spot for, so reintroducing them when we’re older and have more buying power is a natural path to success.”
Christina: “I was that ‘cool’ teenager Hillary was admiring as a youngster. I wore slip dresses with baby-tees, wine-colored lipsticks and anything that would make me look like Bridget Fonda in Singles. Walking into Urban Outfitters brought me screaming back to my freshman year of high school, when the line between styles and brands was frequently blurred. My classmates wore Adidas stripes, checkered Vans and, of course, perfectly broken-in Levi’s. And here they were, back on the racks at UO, as if they have always be en vogue, along with other such 90s nostalgia as Calvin Klein logo t’s, Chia Pets, and a variety of licensed pins (now where did my denim jacket go??). All of these things are now making a comeback, and it touched a chord with the 2016 Christina.
“When I got back to my desk, I cranked up some Sonic Youth on Pandora and started an internal monologue on what the appeal is for someone on the (very) far end of the Millennial age-range. Above my computer monitor is the answer: a picture of my 6 month old baby girl sitting in an empty diaper box. One part of me was caught up in the euphoria of those halcyon days of the Seattle grunge scene – and here is a retailer presenting a new mom with the opportunity to actually re-live this part of my youth! Another part of me was focused on the little youth waiting for me at home with her gummy grin, and I wanted to find her the first Nirvana onesie I could get my hands on. There was suddenly a need to ensure that my daughter is properly indoctrinated at an early age. Like many Millennial moms, I want her to grow up experiencing some of the same trends I did, and loving some of the same things I loved. I want her to watch Rugrats (thank you Nickelodeon for The Splat!), Beauty & the Beast (the 25th anniversary edition) and Trolls (hello DreamWorks!) — and I will gladly purchase accompanying merchandise for her… and maybe for me too.”
And that’s exactly what the licensing industry wants to hear.