The role of nostalgia in retro sewing

Armstead, Charity
McKinney, Ellen
McKinney, Ellen
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Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management

This article explores the role of nostalgia as a motivation for retro sewing and the ways in which nostalgia shapes the practices of retro sewing. Retro sewers circumvent typical models of clothing consumption by opting out of the commercial fashion cycle, and instead creating clothing for everyday use that replicates or is inspired by styles from the past. As such, the practice of retro sewing is inextricably linked to one or more of the many forms of nostalgia. Previous studies on consumers and nostalgia have not considered the full breadth of how consumers interact with nostalgia. This article explains what types of nostalgia motivate the practice of retro sewing, using qualitative analysis of interview data collected as part of a larger study. Forms of nostalgia that motivate retro sewers include both connecting with the past and using the past in the present. Retro sewing is often motivated by an interest in history and personal nostalgia for childhood and family. Some retro sewers would like to live in the past, whereas others prefer to enjoy past fashions in the present. Retro sewers value aspects of the past as useful tools in the present; they collect and consume vintage items, maintain knowledge, refer to history as a guide for the present and future, and use and reinterpret aesthetics of the past in their clothing. Methods used in designing and sewing retro clothing vary depending on which types of nostalgia are most salient for the retro sewer for any given project.


This accepted article is published as Armstead, C.S., McKinney, E., The role of nostalgia in retro sewing. Journal of Consumer Culture, December 10, 2019. DOI: 10.1177/1469540519893102. Posted with permission.