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EVP, Group Account Director


April 22, 2013 — Fashion magazines have been using the phrase ever since the song came out in the 70’s: “Everything old is new again.” Never has that been more true than it is today:  Consumers, companies and brands are all looking to yesterday for inspiration, ideas and familiarity.

We live in an ever-changing world where it’s impossible to keep up with the latest technological advances, and we’re inundated with a tidal wave of new ways to communicate, shop and research. It’s no wonder that people are looking back to a simpler time with a fondness for tradition, wholesome values and classic aesthetics.

Brands are tapping into this mindset.  Everywhere you look there’s a line of clothing or home goods with a vintage vibe. Take Banana Republic’s Mad Men line – in February, the retailer and AMC announced their third collection. This wildly successful line is designed in collaboration with Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant, and consumers can’t seem to get enough of the tailoring and polished silhouettes that harken back to the best of 1960’s style. Jonathan Adler, One Kings Lane, Kate Spade, ModCloth and Target’s Threshold line also hang their hats on classic vintage-inspired design.

This nostalgia is creeping into every facet of our lives – from what we watch on TV (Downton Abbey, Mad Men and Dallas) and what we drink (Pepsi’s “throwback” bottle designs, the rise of vintage cocktails) to our kitchen appliances (KitchenAid’s launch of 24 retro color options and Smeg’s 50’s refrigerator launch). Throwback Thursdays, a popular trend on Facebook and Instagram, lets users celebrate their own memories by sharing old photos with their networks. In fact, a large part of the appeal of Hipstamatic and Instagram is that they let users simulate the look and feel of old film photographs. And Throwback, an iPhone app, offers a way to recapture the fun of getting film developed in an era where everything is instantaneous. It lets you capture a photograph but does not save it to your phone;  instead, the photo is thrown into the future and emailed back to you and those you share it with at a random time, anywhere from one month to five years from the date the photo was taken.

Brands are following suit when it comes to advertising. Old Navy used nostalgia to reach a younger generation by tapping 80’s and 90’s legends from 90210, Backstreet Boys, Blossom, New Kids on the Block, Airplane and Christmas Vacation. And Microsoft’s “Child of the 90’s” Internet Explorer ad was enough to make some of us wish for Trapper Keepers and a dot matrix printer. Although it also made us wonder:  Should there be a limit on how quickly time periods can be considered “retro”?

Consumers are also on the hunt for authenticity. Tired of big-box stores and mass production, customers are continuing the trend toward local, smaller businesses and one-of-a-kind, handmade goods. Etsy, billed as “your place to buy and sell all things handmade,” sold $95.9 million of goods and recorded 1.67 billion page views on the site in January 2013 alone. Homeowners are decorating with more meaningful pieces that represent their personal and family histories in an effort to have a more authentic purpose.

What does the search for authenticity and harking back to a simpler time mean for big brands? It means consumers are growing more nostalgic for a time when products and brands meant something — and stood the test of time. Maybe our grandmothers were right: They just don’t make things like they used to. At Frank About Women, we understand why vintage values — wholesomeness, the importance of family, authenticity and doing things the simple way — are on the rise. In times of significant change, looking to the past is a sanctuary for connection and simplification. Brands can tap into this mindset to create a meaningful emotional connection with potential and existing customers.

Let us define your vintage value. Call Shaun Stripling, chief marketing officer of Frank About Women, at 336.774.9397, or email her.

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