The ultra-aesthetic ‘Vintage Effect’ is back in music, art, fashion, and beyond. From Alexander Wang to Saint Laurent opting for the vintage effect for their campaigns, the trend draws on the effectiveness of nostalgia marketing, and the super stylish looks and aesthetic codes of time past.
—By Luisa Tarantino
Vintage has been back for a while, or rather, it never truly went out of style — every year, a new vintage trend in fashion ‘comes back.’ And vintage aesthetics have certainly taken over again, especially with the help of social media, with all sorts of creative output pulling from the visual aesthetics and techniques of previous decades. From grainy polaroid photographs and digital-noise overlayed on video campaigns to full looks that directly mimic vintage looks from head to toe, the vintage effect is cool and sought-after again.
In part, this aesthetic goes hand in hand with the ‘DIY’ trend. With smartphones having better and better cameras each year and free and accessible editing apps making waves on the market, anyone can shoot their own photos or a campaign and easily achieve the vintage look with the use of a simple filter. And this fact was definitely proven in quarantine — plenty of publications and brands had models creating their own DIY shoots at home with the help of their phone or a set-up camera, resulting in images that clearly draw attention to their ‘home-made aspect,’ all while still being incredibly trendy and stunning.
Even more, it draws back to the days of anti-fashion photography, an era that challenged the polished look of the Supermodel era by creating photographs that weren’t perfect or pristine. Today, it’s trendy to be seen as accessible, down to earth, and alternative for brands, resulting in imagery that seeks to urbanize the brand, all while still remaining luxurious and exclusive. The more alternative and ‘self-aware’ the aesthetic, the cooler.
Indeed, there tends to be something very ‘self-aware’ about vintage aesthetics and nostalgia marketing. In a digital age such as ours, accentuating the stylistic codes of the vintage aesthetic works to remind us of what it was like taking pictures with vintage cameras by fabricating the effect, aiming to place us back in time all while reminding us that that time is gone. That way, nostalgia kicks in, and we relish in reliving those eras through our fashion and our photos. It also makes reference to how much technology has changed, drawing on the asethetics of the coming of the digital age in the ’90s and 2000s; a much simpler time than ours, yet a time that created some of the most iconic fashion looks, campaigns, and moments in history.
We all wish we could go back to the 70s, 80s, or 90s and rock those looks — at least now we can pretend, and digitally create the asethetics to match.
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