1992 JCPenney’s wedding catalog is making TikTok nostalgic for the past: ‘So. Many. Bows’

Gen Z TikTokers are getting a glimpse into the past, thanks to vintage catalogs — and the content is making them nostalgic for a time they’ve never known.

It’s not the first time we’ve seen slices of history go viral on the app. Earlier this year, 1960s high school photos had TikTokers feeling like they were born in the wrong era. Later, an abandoned family home acted as a 1980s time capsule for millions of viewers.

But in a new trend, TikTok accounts devoted to nostalgic content are uploading pages of old catalogs to their accounts — and making viewers yearn for the past.

TikTok account @wedontwannagrowup gained over 56,000 views and 3,700 likes when it flipped through the pages of a 1992 bridal/formal JCPenney’s catalog.

Accompanied by the 1991 hit song “Save the Best for Last,” by Vanessa Williams, the video gave young viewers a peek into the ’90s wedding industry — and judging by the comments, they liked what they saw.

“I wish these were still in fashion, love them🥺” commented @loviisa.f.

“These outfits low key slap,” added @suesieq.

“So. Many. Bows,” remarked @lazyleslieknope.

Another nostalgia account, @shinypretties, gained over 105,000 likes and 6,600 comments when she uploaded the contents of a 1997 dELiA’s catalog.

This time, the fashions seemed more familiar to TikTokers, as they recognized them from today’s fashions.

“People wearing this stuff now lol,” commented https://www.tiktok.com/@jesslynamber.

“I want all of these fits,” wrote @itslindsey619.

But it’s not just vintage shopping catalogs that TikTokers are loving. An issue of Cosmo Girl! from 2000 garnered over 38,000 likes when @shinypretties uploaded it.

“I’m low key sad that kids don’t grow up with these magazines anymore,” commented @bunnyb373.

“Is it just me or were magazines way better back in the day? So many ads now!” wrote @punkypowerproductions.

Toy catalogs are also taking TikTokers back in time — such as the 1989 JCPenney Christmas catalog uploaded by @wedontwannagrowup.

According to experts, yearning for all things ’80s, ’90s and 2000s is driving a new era of “nostalgia economy” — from the way companies advertise (like Pepsi’s new retro logo), to the bevy of period shows dominating streaming platforms (like Stranger Things and Daisy Jones & the Six).

But TikTokers aren’t expressing nostalgia just for bygone eras. Thanks to the breakneck speed at which the internet moves, experts are noticing an uptick in nostalgia for the not-so-distant past.

“Given that the internet has democratized access to nostalgia, and the speed at which culture spreads on TikTok, we’re seeing the nostalgia cycle becoming shorter, with some Gen-Zers currently expressing ‘lockdown nostalgia’ for the early 2020s,” Maxim Kabakov, vice president and group partner for strategy at UM Worldwide, told Ad Age.

“In the future, expect to see even more of a collapse between nostalgia and the present. Something that happened only a few months ago could be ripe for ‘nowstalgia.’”

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