The mark of a good trend is its ability to come back time and time again. Given its rich history and penchant for birthing some of the most popular movements in history, there’s no place better for resurgence than the UK. In fact, the revival has already started! We’ve noticed that what’s old is new again in Great Britain and honestly, it’s the best thing since sliced bread.
There’s no denying classic products are having a major comeback. From Polaroid cameras appearing on Instagram feeds, to people talking about their vinyl collection, there’s a definite trend in the UK of bringing old school retro staples back to the mainstream. It’s likely stemmed from a sense of nostalgia for the stories our parents told us growing up about listening to records with friends, and also a modern hit back at disposable and purposely obsolete products. Vintage is seen as a way to rebel against modern culture and Mark Mulligan, managing director of MIDiA Research, tells Raconteur that it’s certainly something young people embrace more than others because of what it represents: “Millennials’ identities are at the forefront of everything they do thanks to social media, and the love of retro is another way of expressing who we are”, he says:
“Seeing an album on someone’s shelf said something about that person. A playlist just doesn’t do that. A large proportion of people who buy vinyl don’t even own a turntable. It isn’t about the music format, it’s a way of saying something about themselves and their tastes.” – Mark Mulligan, Raconteur
MTV travel writer Emily St. John saw this with her own eyes on a recent trip to the UK with Contiki: “Everything comes back around (so JT of me), which was clear when people were lined around the corner for limited edition EPs DAYS in advance,” she says, “Record stores advertised all-night raves, and regular customers convened to talk passionately about music of all genres. To physically own something and hold it, rather than download or swipe – it was completely refreshing.”
I for one NEVER stopped listening to the Spice Girls, but I have noticed an appreciation for Britain’s biggest musicians and bands popping up amongst Gen Z. Think about how much the death of David Bowie rocked the world, even those who didn’t grow up with his absolutely amazing tunes playing through the radio every night. It’s clear his fans are spanning generations as old music becomes ‘new’. Britpop bands are making such a comeback that there’s even a Britpop-themed festival in Birmingham called Shiiine on Fest, to appease the demand for sounds from decades gone by. Considering the sheer amount of talent to come out of the UK, it’s not surprising it hasn’t faded into the history books.
“The British Music Experience in Liverpool gave an awesome snapshot of how much British talent has contributed to the music industry. From The Beatles, Queen, Sex Pistols to Elton John and David Bowie all the way to the Spice Girls, Coldplay, Adele and Ed Sheeran. In my opinion, Britain is the music capital of the world.” – Emily St. John, MTV Travel Writer
It’s not just popular tunes either, folk and niche musical tastes have become cool again as the younger generations embrace their ancestors’ traditional sounds and dance an Irish jig or whirl around at a Scottish ceilidh (pronounced cay-lee) with pride.
Did you watch the Royal Wedding? Same. With that case rested we’ll move onto the next point… just kidding! The modern royal fever is hotter than ever though as Harry and Meghan (and William and Kate to a lesser extent) usher in a new era of ‘relatable royals’. The perception of British Royalty as ancient and stuffy is being challenged and garnering fans from international and younger generation as we see the charity work done by the Royal Family through social media. Suddenly Kensington Palace is no longer an ‘aunt heap’ but instead a ‘young royal hangout’.
“I am SICK for the royals. Love them. It was so cool to walk the same halls as newlyweds Meghan and Harry (they had just been to visit the week before), not to mention the hundreds of years of history that filter through the castles. If I had a time machine…” – Emily St. John, MTV Travel Writer
It’s not just charity work either, fashion is what’s making most of the headlines and it’s helping showcase some great British designers that have been around for hundreds of years to a new crowd. It’s not just Meghan and Kate; Princess Diana’s niece is a model and fashion icon!
Speaking of fashion, there is nothing hotter than the retro look. UK High-Street brands like Topshop, are packed full of 90s clothes, and plenty of Fashion Week runways saw the return of the humble fabric corduroy. Once reserved for British teachers and Britpop star Jarvis Cocker, corduroy is now being donned by all thanks to many British inspired fashion collections. The streets of London are a hot bed for vintage fashion, and it’s hard not to feel underdressed as Emily found out…
“Everyone was WAY better dressed than me. Each person had a true aesthetic that wasn’t contrived or styled within an inch of its life, they were just effortlessly cool. I need to go shopping. ” – Emily St. John, MTV Travel Writer
And it’s not just new fashion inspiring people; iconic and beloved British brands like Hunter wellingtons (AKA gumboots to Aussies), that were once reserved for The Queen and her household, are now a must-have for festivals.
Food and Drink
When you think of British food you might feel underwhelmed, but that just shows you haven’t been to the UK recently because the next level dining experiences you can have there are the good kind of overwhelming. The old school fish and chips combo is no longer considered daggy but instead served at high-end restaurants and at retro chippies (AKA take away shops) like Poppies Fish and Chips.
Another quintessential Brit fave, gin, is the hottest tipple around instead of a spirit reserved for your mum and grandma. There’s been a total reimagining of traditional recipes with modern twists thanks to chefs like Jamie Oliver and the rise of food trucks. Scotch eggs and apple pies are staples in the growing number of foodie hotspots around the country, which are not just in London but also in cities like Manchester, Cardiff and Glasgow.
“Over a month later, I’m still in a food coma. Warm and comforting, every meal was utterly more-ish. Plus, can we get more food trucks/festivals in Oz please? ” – Emily St. John, MTV Travel Writer
The popularity of The Great British Bake Off should be enough of an indication that baking scones and puddings isn’t a lost art. A British pub opened in Sydney recently too! There is HIGH demand for what used to be considered ‘boring British food’.
Want to find your own retro gems? Discover your Great Britain with even more inspo here.