nostalgia mo David

ATH Opinion: Why the Nostalgia Trend is Creating an Ongoing Conversation Across Decades

Mo David on the comforts of nostalgia.

Butterfly hair clips, bucket hats, velour tracksuits, and platform sandals; there’s something unquestionably comforting about seeing your favorite childhood nostalgia trends making a comeback.

Mo David, a Brooklyn-based poetry and short fiction writer, based his latest project, Mo David’s Blues, around elements of nostalgia. The collection includes poetry and essays with an accompanying SoundBook that brings the work to life through audio and ambient noise. We spoke to David about the comforts of nostalgia, the power of adding his voice to a continuing conversation that spans decades, and his predictions for what’s next in the revival of decades-old trends.

The Comforts of Nostalgia

Take a quick scroll through David’s Instagram feed, and you will quickly notice the familiar silver sphere of decades past.

“The CD theme was born of feedback I received from a friend,” David shares. “She said the book felt like the mixtapes we burned in high school, a gathering of disparate feelings and places that are each enhanced by the presence of the others. That unlocked the project for me, and I felt empowered to craft this “coming-of-age” collection, to learn the nuances of what it meant to live as myself at different points in my life.”

nostalgia mo david
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David points out that anyone born in the 90s has witnessed an incomprehensible amount of technological advancement in their lifetime. “That speed creates both cultural barriers and really strong communities,” he says. “If you were listening to cassettes in high school, it means you were 16 at a specific moment. You were somewhere else if you had already traded them in for CDs. And if you were plugging in your iPod, streaming from your phone, asking the speaker to start playing a song, all of this cemented you in a window of time that will never be replicated. I’m really interested in these micro-eras and their impact on us as adults.”

Nostalgia as a Form of Communication

According to David, while the nostalgia revival we’re seeing right now is often thought of as a subconscious desire for “simpler times,” the eras we are reviving held a lot of similar unrest to what we are experiencing right now.

“The late 60s and early 70s, the late 90s and early 00s…those periods weren’t necessarily safer or simpler,” he says. “They were just different. I think at the heart of these trends is actually a really interesting attempt to contextualize our experience within the story of history.”

We’re posing our own questions and it could be decades before we hear the answer.
Mo David

David says that perhaps it’s not exactly nostalgia we’re after but rather another means of communication.

“I think when people make these references, they’re answering a question that was posed decades ago, completing an interaction that took generations to resolve itself. To believe that we’re pulling from the past, we assume that we’re in the future. But every generation believes they’re at the crest of the wave, at the very front of the line. In reality, we’re inside someone else’s memories, putting the pieces together in a way that is still invisible to us—and might always be. We’re posing our own questions, and it could be decades before we hear the answer.”

nostalgia mo David reading
Photo credit: Mo David

Nostalgia as a Trend

David says that it’s been fun to see the early 00s clothing trends he loved as a child come back around.

“In watching people reach for some of the pieces I loved most in the fourth or fifth grade, I realized that I actually still love those pieces, and it made me reexamine why I let some of them go,” he shares. “Now I have my checkerboard sneakers again, my cargo pants, my sweater vests. These were some of the first ways I expressed myself, and a lot of it still holds true about how I like to feel and how I like to present myself. It doesn’t necessarily feel like reminiscing on the past because I’m not just remembering the feeling; I am once again having it.

“They say you can never go home again, but that’s not exactly true. There is always a way to feel at home.”

Regarding nostalgia’s future, David predicts that we will keep pulling from different eras, especially as we continue to move toward sustainability.

“If we really want to eradicate single-use plastic,” he says, “we’ll have to learn from the people who lived before that was an option, before food and fashion got fast. I’ve seen people on TikTok buy these Victorian-era keychains that hold a few daily essentials like a comb and a lighter; all made out of brass and already older than anybody alive. It’s pretty exciting to imagine what might come back around.”

Looking for more from Mo David? See more of his work @MoDavidsBlues.

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