Is It The Reincarnation Of The 1930s?

The world has witnessed economic slowdown and recession repeating itself in a cycle over the years since early 19th century. History has documented the change in fashion and lifestyle with every economic downturn that mankind has faced. The dramatic changes of the early 1920s, when corsets were abandoned for a free-flowing silhouette, signifying freedom. The Boxy look reigning the fashion world in the 1930s, thanks to the Great Depression when men’s jackets were up-cycled to be worn by the women folk. The recession forced them to wear a man’s hat and jacket to take up his office space while he fought for his country in the World War.

The Autumn, 1930 Sears Catalogue admonished, “Thrift is the spirit of the day. Reckless spending is a thing of the past.”

And now here we are, in the 2020s, fighting a similar battle. A battle of survival from our own onslaught of nature. The ecological balance has been tilted and we need to correct it soon. The repercussions can be felt not only in our climatic conditions, but also other aspects of our livelihood.

And since the circumstances call for a change in our lifestyle, fashion being an integral part of it, has to be the mechanism of change.

Let us examine how similar or different are we from the Great Depression of 1930s.


* Economic Recession

* Low spending budgets

* Fashion cycle trends at a tipping point

* Minimalism gaining ground

* Thrift as a norm



* Fitted styles gave way to boxy looks

* Sheer and flimsy fabrics were replaced by thick body fabrics

* Legs got covered with longer dresses and skirts

* Necklines plunged to create focal point

* Underwear became more controlled under loose outerwear

Images from Archives


* Boxy is sexy

* Natural fibre textiles like hemp and linen are being preferred

* Leggings as a layer seem to have lost their function

* Less is good

* Fashion cycle lost seasons. So, Slow is in

* Vintage takes centre stage

Images Courtesy: Buna Studio, Three Clothing


The pattern is clearly visible that we are replicating the 1930s, though in a contemporary avatar.

The recession has hit us again and is forcing us to live frugal. The situation is very different from that era. And the consumer of today, Gen Z, has not lived the previous version. The current trends have a similar pattern, but for a newer generation.

We can see that the following trends will come into force as we go:

* Loose garments made in coarser fabrics that are made of natural plant based fibres

* Minimalist styling and loose fits for long lasting fashion

* Durable and functional shapes with classic touch to beat the ever changing trends

* Affordable fashion to beat the Couture culture

* Advent of all-weather apparel as a category as climatic changes have confused the seasonality around the year

* Athleisure wear takes centre-stage as it defies the season specific styling.

It will be interesting to see how the consumer takes up the lifestyle change, which will be a landmark turning point in the History. But yes, the change is imminent. And a radical one at that.

About the author


Shunya is a journey of fashion veteran, Rajesh Jain, a business strategist in the Fashion & Retail industry. His domains cover all aspects of business – Product, People & Processes. He has journaled here his observations of this ever-changing trends in consumer behaviour and lifestyle.

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