Fitzroy Nostalgia


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Comparatively small to other fashion capitals around the world, Melbourne is a supercharged hub for fashion tribes and trends that are constantly in flux. Just out of the CBD, Fitzroy holds the bohemian heart of Melbourne and is where you will see anything and sometimes everything, especially fashion at its most eclectic. Popular with students and travellers alike it has been rare for Fitzroy to exhibit static fashion trends or for one trend to become dominant over any other.

With its rich diversity there is no surprise that in 2012 Fitzroy was predicted as one of seven of the hippest suburbs in Melbourne, attracting a population that is young, energetic, educated and ethnically diverse (Urbus, 2012). And as Chris Sanderson from The Future Laboratory stated, the hipster died the minute we called him a hipster. The word no longer had the same meaning (as cited in Ferrier, 2014). Yet 18 months later Fitzroy is still detangling itself from this boom of the stereotyped ‘hipster’ fashion trend that has held a tight grip on the area for the past few years.

As we wandered the streets of Fiztroy earlier this month, there is evidence that early adopters emerging with subcultural fashion trends heavily nostalgic in various mash-ups of 90’s fashion elements. Although these mash-ups are a strong aesthetic divergence, there is also remnants of the hipster and slow movement ( at the core of this evolution with heavy prominence on vintage and recycled clothing, as Daniel Bernardo puts it, outfits were all about being true to ourselves and not spending too much money on clothes (cited in Segran, 2015).

The evidence of this 90’s nostalgia may represent a backlash of huge style conformity or normcore (the desire to fit in with a crowd) that we saw last year the hipster trend, with early adopters wanting to retreat to their youth to remember when they felt valued and loved for who they were and not for what they achieved or earned … or for what they were wearing (Rosenblum, 2014). With a retreat of the masses into conformity, it’s not much of a surprise that we have seen a number of early adopters exhibiting varied interpretations of what nostalgia means to them. As Brian Walker, Chief executive of Retail Doctor Group puts it simply, the world is becoming increasingly homogenised … fashion shops churn out the same looking dresses and furniture shops churn out identical sofas … at some level, people are finding different ways to define themselves through the retro market (cited in Jacks, 2015).



Urban Boho = slow movement, craft, hipster evolution, embracing nature/environment, bohemian hippies, 60’s era

Twiggy with Sonny & Cher – Style icons of the 60s

90’s Nostalgia = nostalgic feelings for childhood, metal/grunge- the antithesis of the bright colour flooding the market

DrewBarrymoreScreen Shot 2016-01-07 at 11.41.52 PM
Drew Barrymore “we all in the 90s rocked good PC bed heads” #messyhairdontcare

00’s to 60’s = wanting a simplicity / easy feel, dressing for comfort & body shape, wanting long lasting ‘classic’ pieces

Audrey Hepburn icon of simple feminine style


The trends had a definitive nostalgia in the way items were styled whether by colour combinations or prints and patterns or shapes and silhouettes. We saw a 90s melange of influences reflecting the music trends of rave, Seattle grunge, hip hop and pop. The innovators resonated a youthful unkempt carelessness with the styling being more is more with clashing colours, oversized loose fit and street wear items. Dressing for comfort held precedence over promoting any brands or personal image although there was individuality and pride in their outfit of the day #OOTD. This tribe had the ‘cool before it’s cool’ hipster agenda but in a “I woke up like this” way as seen with support for local businesses such as Dystal Phalanx, a innovative fashion destination stocking independent Australian designers. Using today’s hip hop and EDM music to inspire their wardrobe choices, items sell quickly when featured in video clips such as Drake’s Hotline Bling hit which saw a spike in sales after the release of the video.

Beyonce Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 10.38.39 PM

Nostalgia for the grittiness of grunge and pop fantastic power of the 90s is reinforced by mainstream media in the video clip Flawless by megastar Beyonce. A mosh pit of multicultural punk rockers and skinheads embracing notions of equality by accepting that everyone is flawless with all manners of attitudes and style. The trending hashtag #Iwokeuplikethis has 1,356,200 results on instagram, featuring humans and animals in a plethora of poses in half asleep and fully awake states.

iggy clueless
90s Nostalgia. Aussie rap star Iggy Azalea video clip #TBT replicating Cher Horowitz from Clueless.

Another easy trend to spot was the effortless urban boho style with loose floral print dresses, sandals in a combination of natural colors khaki, beige, tan with a pop of orange or mustard yellow. Camouflage, stripes, spots and ditsy prints were mixed with plain colors in skater skirts, sundresses, overalls and playsuits. The innovators use nature, art and the 60s as inspiration for their wardrobe recalling Mary Quant, Twiggy and even their Mums. Janis Joplin’s niece Malyn Joplin has a fashion label Made of Pearl, which captures the counterculture spirit of the legendary rock n’ roll blues singer and style icon, delivering a mash of paisley kimonos, velvet flares and suede vests which furthers the bohemian aesthetic and our memory of Janis Joplin. The style connects with the slow movement and the hipster trend that thrives in Fitzroy which is compared to Shoreditch in the UK, Williamsburg in New York and Newtown in Sydney.  

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 10.26.05 PM
Online retailer curate instagram feed for their bohemian tribe

We saw simple feminine looks that merged the styling of the naughties (00s) with sixties where items were chosen to accentuate the innovators body shape and was not driven by magazines or trends but rather a learned experience of dressing oneself and utilising one’s intuition. The style features sportswear which was made popular by American designers in the 60s like Calvin Klein and is reminiscent of the Sex and The City ladies. Film and TV have big influences, the tv series Suits, Asher Keddie (The Offsprings), Lee Lin Chin (SBS) as well as style bloggers Margaret Zhang and Susie Bubble. Quality fabric and construction were important, semi-investment items from Australian labels Alpha60, Cue and Maurie&Eve are mixed with basics from Target or op shops. Fast fashion was recognised but not valued by this style tribe as there was a subconcious awareness of slow movement fashion. Colours are not trend driven -although we did see an abundance of navy- as the focus is on fit and proportions.

Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 3.24.12 AM
Australian fashion brand Cue with feminine fit and silhouettes


Almost all of our interviewers mentioned that they dress differently from their friends with stark differences in style as well as methods of shopping, new vs vintage & op shop and online vs brick and mortar set ups. Melbourne’s Pop Up shops were seen as the ideal retail environment for creative inspiration and novelty. Online shopping was prevalent due to proximity to store locations, availability, style range and cost factors with ASOS mentioned by many students. Instagram is used for indirect inspiration and although it has been commercialized, the self curated newsfeed is at the hands of the individual and not intrusively marketed at the millions of users, one innovator mentioned that she does not use it as a retail avenue which is a developing concept in this social media platform. Many of our innovators were visitors to Melbourne and the Fitzroy area, which highlights the organic diversity of trends, with fashion differences between Melbourne and other Australian cities. They mentioned that Melburnians looked more comfortable and less dressed up, were more adventurous with outfits and creative with fit and proportions.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In summary, the major conclusions that we have made from our interviews and observations of these early adopters around Fitzroy are;

A rejection of social and technological influences:

These early adopters are not interested in representing their social status through designer labels. They are the opposite of the current hyper-connected, omni-channel engaged consumers – rejecting the current high-tech lifestyle and don’t identify with any major influences such as fashion magazines, friends, style icons or celebrities upon their fashion style or buying loyalty. They don’t actively look for fashion inspiration yet all interviewees discussed Instagram as their source for lifestyle inspiration. Viewing fashion alongside posts from friends, celebrities and inspirational quotes, fashion becomes an intertwined part of their holistic life interests as an unconscious influence.

Limiting fast fashion and economically conscious:

Wanting to look different to what current trends offer or wanting to find clothing that suit their body types is the driving force in their shopping habits. These are savvy shoppers who have a hunter-gatherer approach, willing to hunt for bargains, relying heavily on vintage/op-shops and eBay for the bulk of their wardrobe. Despite having ethical clothing options from labels such as Veggie Threads, Bhalo, Scott Benedictine and Wooten (just to name a few), these consumers still choose to buy second hand as these labels are expensive and closely follow current fashion trends. These are minimal online shoppers but when faced with buying new basic items to fill out their wardrobes they shop online and although this group is conscious of buying from Australian labels, ASOS is the most popular choice, contributing to the $160 million spent with ASOS from Australia last year (Smith 2016).


Ferrier, M., 2014. The end of the hipster: how flat caps and beards stopped being so cool. [online] the Guardian. Available at: <; [Accessed 9 Jan. 2016].

Jacks, T., 2015. Selling power of nostalgia sees vinyl sales double. [online] The Sydney Morning Herald. Available at: <; [Accessed 8 Jan. 2016].

Rosenblum, G. 2014, Nostalgia back in fashion, Minneapolis, Minn [Accessed 9 Jan. 2016].

Segran, E., 2015. The Fall of the Hipster Brand: Inside the Decline of American Apparel and Urban Outfitters. [online] Racked. Available at: <; [Accessed 9 Jan. 2016].

Smith, M., 2015. Local fashion is getting an ASOS makeover. [online] Financial Review. Available at: <; [Accessed 4 Jan. 2016].

Urbis, 2012. Sydney pips Melbourne for most suburbs on the hip-list – Urbis. [online] Available at: <; [Accessed 8 Jan. 2016].

Howden, R., 2015. Fashion in the 90s (and what it all meant).[online] Available at: <; [Accessed 8 Jan. 2016]

By Nicole Anderson, Lien Tran, Mandar Nelson




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s