"Fashion goes round and round"
Newtro” represents an unchanging truth in the fashion world. Recently, as the Newtro fever has begun in the fashion world, a large number of popular items in the 90s are coming back. Now people can easily find 90s fashion on the street again such as scrunchies, new types of jelly shoes, and retro wide pants. As the fashion industry enters the retro fever again, it is easy to see items from the 90s leading the trend.
Newtro is a new term that combines “new” and “retro”, meaning reminiscing and recalling the past. In that, Newtro refers to the tendency to enjoy retro in a unique way of 2030 ages. Especially nowadays, Newtro culture is based in the 1990s and has become a new trend for the younger generation who have not directly experienced that time period.
These days current 2030 ages have been constantly exposed to retro styles through the Internet and mass media such as SNS posts, the Korean drama Reply(응답하라, 2015) series, the movie Sunny (써니, 2011) and Architecture 101 (건축학개론, 2012). Through these mass media, the MZ generation who was born in the 2000s has grown a curiosity and interest about the “retro” style of the older generation and began to enjoy these fashions. However, the younger generation does not enjoy the older fashions as merely copying them.
The fashion industry analyzes that the MZ generation is creating a new trend by reinterpreting it with this generation’s own sensibility and way of enjoying it. Also, older generations can reminisce their old memories by wearing 90s fashion items again. MZ generation has generally positive views of Newtro culture. In an interview conducted by the CUF, which asked for opinions on the Newtro fashion, a 23-year-old millennial, anonymous said, “I think positively about the Newtro fashion trend because members of society called the MZ generation can feel a sense of belonging through this trend. As fashion items from the 90s are back in fashion, I think we can combine them with the culture of today to create a more unique culture.”
Newtro also has another positive point that it could reduce the amount of resources thrown away by customizing and reusing clothes that were popular in the past. In an interview with a 20-year-old college student, Lee Ju-young, she replied, “I think positively of the refashion trend because the style of expressing myself has expanded. I heard that clothes produced have a large amount of waste because they are stored and thrown away for a short period of time. However, I think this trend can prevent the use of resources by recycling or customizing clothes that were popular in the past.” Also, she said that as there are enthusiasts who choose vintage shops, the trend can be seen as an economic product.
The older generation also shows a positive reaction to the Newtro fashion trend. In interviews with older generations, asking “What do you think about the re-popularity of items loved in the past?”, an anonymous older generation replied, “Though I am not very interested in fashion, I am glad to see the colorful retro-style clothes I used to see on the streets when I was a child because the memories of that time come to my mind and I get soaked in that memories. Especially these days, it is amazing to see everyone wearing scrunchies on their wrist.”
Various Newtro items:
One of the most popular items of Newtro products these days is “scrunchy”. In Korea, scrunchies are called Gopchang hair bands (곱창밴드) because of their wrinkled looks which look like the appearance of Korean food, Gopchang (pig/cow intestines). Scrunchy has been a popular fashion item in the 80s and 90s since the invention of Rommy Revson. However, as time goes by, scrunchies are getting branded as tacky items. Even in the American film Sex and the City (2003), there was a line of the protagonist Carrie Bradshaw that criticizes the scrunchy fashion: “Scrunchy? Women do not wear scrunchies anymore, at least in New York. You can do it in the bathroom.”
Entering the 2020s again, scrunchy has become a signature item of Newtro trend as various celebrities such as IU, Red Velvet Joy, and Black Pink Jennie wearing scrunchy were exposed through SNS. The role of the scrunchy, which was responsible for low ponytail and light updo hair in the 90s, has now been transformed into a bracelet. Brand Celine emphasized cool points by putting a scrunchy around the wrist or forearm, not as a hair item. In addition, it is loved for its role in purifying burdensome styles of clothes such as leather or colorful dresses into daily wear by matching more diverse patterns and colors of scrunchies.
2. Jelly Shoes
Jelly shoes are also getting popular again among the fashion items of the 90s. People are looking for jelly shoes for similar reasons to scrunchies. A photo of American actor Blake Lively wearing jelly shoes on social media on May 19 has greatly influenced the refashion of jelly shoes. In 2021, jelly shoes came out in a completely different form of design from the jelly shoes that were popular in the past. Now, designers are giving sophisticated and trendy upgrades to the appearance of simple-shaped jelly shoes at fashion houses such as Valentino and Gucci. Fashion magazine Vogue said, “A variety of jelly shoes are enjoying their heyday this summer on retro trends that evoke childhood sentiments. We need to get rid of the stereotype about classic plastic-based jelly shoes.”
Newtro’s influence on Fashion Brand: Fila, Ellesse
Brands that were popular in the 90s are having a comeback with a Newtro wave. Fila and Ellesse, which were symbols of “old-fashioned” have recently become representative brands of Newtro, achieving a remarkable rise in sales. Fila that used to be a fading brand with negative growth up until 2017, is now successfully leading the Newtro trend with the release of Disrupter 2 in 2018 which was released in 1988. Therefore, Fila could have seen over 40% growth in 2018 and 23% growth in 2019. Less than two years after its launch, Disrupter 2 sold 1.8 million pairs and about 820 pairs overseas, and Footwear News, a U.S. shoe specialized media, selected Disrupter 2 as the “2018 Shoes of the Year.”
Ellesse, another brand that suffered from a long slump in the 2000s, is also appealing to young consumers again with retro sensibility in its colorful Anorak, an overcoat with a hood, and a windbreaker, influenced by the Newtro trend. It can be worn all four seasons while enjoying outdoor activities such as sports, hiking, and running. This charm of Anorak appeals to younger generations and becomes a must-have item that can be used for fashion styling. The Anorak jacket was sold out in 1,000 pieces for the first time as it became one of the popular items leading the Newtro trend.
Today, because of the Newtro trend, fashion items such as scrunchy, jelly shoes, and wide pants are gaining popularity again. Due to the re-trend of fashion items from the 90s, not only does integration of millennials and older generations occur but also there is the phenomenon in which forgotten brands revive. Like the famous quote of Karl Lagerfeld, “Fashion always comes back around”, people expect that in the future the current fashion of the 20s and 30s will be also considered retro. As fashion becomes more diverse, new trends will continue to emerge and current fashions, combined with a variety of personalities, will be reborn as another Newtro fashion.