Fuel Your Imagination

The new nostalgia: Why brands are embracing the roaring twenties

As a new decade dawns, a fresh aesthetic of nostalgia is emerging according to Shutterstock’s annual Creative Trends Report.

Nicola Kemp

Managing Editor, BITE


The roaring twenties are set to be a key visual trend in marketing in the decade ahead as consumers turn to a new wave of nostalgia for reassurance in an uncertain and fast-changing world.

Research from Shutterstock analyses data gathered over a 12-month period from billions of customer searches for images, footage, and music content. The data, combined with analysis from Shutterstock’s internal visual intelligence panel, pinpoints patterns and styles that they believe will impact visual trends in 2020 and beyond.

Flo Lau, Associate Creative Director at Shutterstock, says the aesthetic of the “roaring twenties” will be a key trend, particularly amongst luxury brands such as Gucci. Nostalgia has long been a lynchpin of marketing. She explains, “People are more compelled to spend more money when they are triggered by old time feelings. They bring back memories and drive imagination.”

Looking back to the lavish imagery of the 1920s is not the only trend that speaks to excess, escapism and beauty; the report identifies the growth of high-impact floral designs as key.

This art isn’t for decoration; it’s for declarations.


Brandless branding

Other key visual trends identified in the report include the growth of minimalist design and the term ‘black’ which saw searches increase by 1,779%. The report suggests that “unprecedented minimalism” lies ahead for brands, in contrast to the lavish detail of the roaring twenties and growth of floral imagery.

“These aren’t either, or trends,” Lau explains. “These shifts are global. Yes, we are seeing big floral prints for brands including Ralph Lauren and Gucci [but] we are also seeing the rise of minimal packaging. Brands need to be aware of what compliments their brand aesthetic.”

Pointing to the example of the Dior Cruise campaign of 2020, with its mixture of minimalist black and ‘in full bloom’ design, she adds, “On paper they contradict each other but these seemingly contractionary trends can work together.”

The fallacy of ‘peak purpose’

While marketing commentators have been lining up to call time on purpose-led marketing campaigns, visual trends continue to point to the growing swathe of brands turning to nature and sustainability to better connect with consumers.

The report identifies ‘Wild Life’ as a key trend for brands, with a 553% increase in searches for hiking imagery and a 368% increase in searches for camping imagery.

As Lau explains, “Environmentalism and equality will continue to impact visual trends in the decade ahead. Activism will continue to have a big impact on culture.”

In line with this, ‘Protest Art’ is identified as a key trend for the future, fuelled by a 465% increase in searches for equality icons. It’s a statistic that suggests that activism is set to be of growing importance to brands moving forward. As the report declares, “This art isn’t for decoration; it’s for declarations.”

Related Tags

Trends Nostalgia