Even though old is gold, hearkening to the past can hinder fashion creativity

What you need to know:

In the 21st Century, technology has been our saving grace in terms of innovation. Unfortunately, their  products and services do not count since we cannot wear them

“The Jetsons”, was an American animated sitcom that originally aired in prime time from September 23, 1962, to March 17, 1963, on America Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

The cartoon attempted to predict how technologically advanced our nation would become. We have advanced impressively in the technological department but the Jetson wardrobe is far more futuristic and definitive compared to looks from today. It may just have been a cartoon in which imagination was key, but the lack of imagination that contemporary fashion is experiencing makes this 1960s cartoon’s style more sartorially progressive than what we wear today.

In the 21st Century, technology has been our saving grace in terms of innovation. Unfortunately, their  products and services do not count since we cannot wear them. If our local fashion designers can emulate companies like Safaricom and think outside the box in terms of technology and science to create transformative and iconic products that define our time, why can’t our form of dress be just as ground breaking?

Retro style and vintage clothing have always been a part of fashion due to their classic, timeless appeal. The right vintage pieces combined with a modern wardrobe can still produce a timely look. Unfortunately, it is becoming too easy to adapt vintage pieces into our present wardrobes because not much in the sartorial world has changed.

Nineties grunge pieces, vintage Levis cut-off shorts, ’80s “Cosby Sweaters,” flared tight jeans (hipsters) and suede bags with extreme fringe are making a comeback. Instead of simply drawing inspiration from these trends in the hopes of transforming them into something new, designers are just bringing them back into the present, which is essentially leaving us in the past.

That inspiration hinders the progression of fashion if it is not channeled in moderation. A 2012 Marc Jacobs fashion show consisted of menswear looks that drew inspiration from the everyday attire worn by 1920s factory workers: a very crisp and simple button down with a vest and trousers. The rusty and monotone color palette is what helped to evoke the vintage flare.

Designer Jacobs was inspired by past trends and looks and even said himself, according to a label review in New York Magazine, “I like romantic allusions to the past.” Well what about working toward innovation for the future? The past two decades of fashion and style have not been drastically different compared to how different the ’90s were from the ’70s.

Basically, there’s nothing wrong with honoring the past, but the constant reminiscence of fashion from a prior time – is making it difficult for the 21st century gen Zs to establish their own look for future generations to draw inspiration from and imitate.

 It seems like local fashion designers and image consultants and stylists are just copying what’s already been done. Maybe it’s because they’re playing it safe and sticking to comfortable clothes.

I don’t think they’ve run out of new ideas yet. While there’s value in the old and traditional (“old is gold”), clinging too much to the past can limit or impede creativity in the realm of fashion. Things are evolving, and so should fashion.

George Ooro, Journalist, art critic, digital stories, and cross-cultural curator.