Nostalgia for the 70s: the fashion trend that's stayin' alive

With many of the pandemic’s fashion trends being led by TV and music videos, a trio of new films suggest 1970s fashion will be returning in a big way and that the post-Covid “going out again” wardrobe is to be more unexpectedly daring.

Ben Affleck was recently photographed filming The Tender Bar, set in the 70s, wearing flared jeans, aviators, a Cuban-collared jersey and clog-like loafers. His look comes hot on the heels of snaps from House of Gucci. Lady Gaga stars as Patrizia Reggiani, the wife of Maurizio Gucci – grandson of the founder of the house of Gucci – in a story that begins in 1973 and is full of decadent Italian fashion.

Pictures from the set of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Soggy Bottom show Bradley Cooper decked all in white, with an open-chested pilgrim shirt topped off by a feathered John Travolta hairdo. Cooper has apparently morphed into Barry Gibb on the cover of Barbra Streisand’s Guilty album.

The parallels between then and now are not just sartorial but social. Daniel Todd, a buying manager at Mr Porter, says: “A lot of what’s going on in the 70s was deemed countercultural, and I think that’s very relevant today.”

Aoife Byrne, a retail analyst at Edited, agrees: “The 70s were a politically charged decade, defined by activism and a feminist movement that echo what we’re living through now.”

This freedom extended to people’s wardrobes, says Todd: “Men began dressing with a newfound sense of fun and anything-goes flamboyance, combined with an exaggerated masculinity. Today’s versions of key 1970s pieces subtly dial down the original era’s excesses while retaining their dash and expression.”

Online shopping platform Lyst reports a 45% increase in searches for flared jeans and a huge uptick on the term “psychedelic”. Sales of 70s staples such as clogs, tank tops and products to tie-dye have increased in the past year, while hairstyles such as Farrah Fawcett’s feathered cut and the mullet have returned. The autumn/winter fashion catwalks, meanwhile, featured an eclectic array of 70s styles from hippie to glam rock and disco.

Stella McCartney highlighted oversized flares, Marie France Van Damme brought back the kimono and kaftan, there were ponchos at Etro and Chloé, crochet at Miu Miu and Valentino, Balenciaga referenced glam rock, Givenchy was very disco and Anna Sui’s entire autumn/winter collection felt like it took place on the set of Nic Roeg’s Performance.

Geraldine Wharry, a trend forecaster, says: “Fashion is about storytelling. It was an incredibly rich time, culturally. The 70s weren’t all rosy – there was the Vietnam war, economic struggles as well – but within this, creatively it was an era where rock, punk and disco thrived. The end of the 70s is also when rap was born.”


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