Gen-Z goes cassette crazy as '90s trends get a second shot at life

Internet – The '90s have made their way back into our lives in a big way, and Gen-Z might be to thank – or blame.

Small sunglasses, mom jeans, and cassette players have made their way back onto retailers' shelves.
Small sunglasses, mom jeans, and cassette players have made their way back onto retailers' shelves.  © Collage: screenshot/Instagram/kourtneykardashian/solasidos

For millennials, it was vinyls and record players, flower crowns, and peasant dresses. For Gen-Z, it's cassette tapes and players, mom jeans, and your grandpa's best-kept sweaters.

Resurrecting trends wasn't something created by the millennials, but they were the first generation to grow up with the internet and the ongoing evolution of mobile phones.

They were the generation that documented their style resurrections and shared them with the world through AOL instant messaging, Xanga blogs, and MySpace – which led the way for all social media platforms to-date.

But now, a mobile-first generation is taking over the airwaves and flooding them with '90s nostalgia. But for Gen-Z, it's not nostalgic; it's just fashion.

The same could be said with the rising interests in obsolete items such as cassette players and too-tiny-to-see-through sunglasses.

While the functionality isn't there, the style is, and style is the only thing Gen-Z-ers pay mind to in terms of trends.

Take cassettes, for instance. These were monumental advancements for the music industry, as they allowed people to take their tunes on-the-go. People were no longer bound to their radio dials at a set time every day just to hear their favorite song.

High fashion meets low function

A TikTok user documented her Gen-Z daughter's failed attempt at opening a cassette tape (collage).
A TikTok user documented her Gen-Z daughter's failed attempt at opening a cassette tape (collage).  © screenshot/TikTok/Lynda Machado

Ultimately, these devices made music portable, even in cars – something that couldn't be said before their existence.

Now, you can readily buy them at Urban Outfitters, along with a cassette player to bump them in, because let's be honest: you probably don't have a functioning player around.

One mom, Lynda Machado, even posted a TikTok of her 14-year-old daughter trying to open a cassette tape she had bought from the retailer, and could hardly breathe from laughing at her child's utter failure to operate the simple case.

In the video, Machado tells her daughter what she needs to do after watching her struggle for several seconds.

Like any 14-year-old girl, she responded with sass, and questioned her mom's wisdom.

Machado laughingly shouted in response, "Because that's how it works!"

But the question is: why? Why bring back a format of music that doesn't bring anything to the table other than novelty?

Because Gen-Z, that's why.

The generation that encompasses all six to 24-year-olds has been bringing back '90s fashion trends one by one. Bucket hats, microscopic sunglasses, velour tracksuits, cassette players, and chunky sneakers were all laid to rest after 1999.

It seems that at some point over the last two years, Gen-Z must have taken a deep dive into the fashion archives of decades past, calling for the '90s to come out and play.

Millennials by no means hate fashion from the decade they were born in. Moreso, they want Gen-Z to know they weren't the creators of '90s fashion: the 1990s – and the millennials – were.

While Gen-Z and Millennials continue to wage, and counter-wage, fashion wars against one another, others look on and wonder why anyone would want to re-live the "trendy" part of their past.

Cover photo: Collage: screenshot/Instagram/kourtneykardashian/solasidos

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