Trend To Watch: Back To What Was Cool When We Were 10 - why is that?
Defining what ‘cool’ means nowadays, is hard - often what I find cool, you may not find cool and vice versa.
Joel Dinerstein, Clark Chair of American Civilization at Tulane University, intrigued to discover more about this word, wrote a book called “The Origins of Cool in Postwar America”, where he expands his thoughts on the origins of the word 'cool' and what it means.
Dinerstein claims that the word ‘cool’ was generated around the 1950s, among Euro-Americans and stood for an individual who was rebellious but not in a political way, only culturally – based on the music they listened to, the clothes they wore and the way they spoke.
Nowadays, what people believe to be cool, is completely different from what our parents and grandparent’s considered cool – and this is simply because every generation of young people will give different meanings to cool. As the world changes and evolves, the word stays the same but due to the historical moments that the generations are living, the meaning will change to meet their needs.
So as the traits of being cool change, people often ask what is and what is not? I believe that the best way to identifying the spirit of the time, is to identify who, rather than what is cool. So, if you identify someone to be fashionable, stylish, trendy, groovy...etc. you are very likely to think that what they are wearing is cool too. If instead you see someone wearing something cool, this does not necessarily make them cool.
Social media has changed the meaning of this word in many ways, especially because people can now build and customize cool virtual personas, that actually do not represent the truth. Today, people perceive who you are through Instagram, and what you say on Twitter and how you curate your Snapchat stories. These are the modern tools that can make now dictate if you are in or out. And this is not all, social media has also affect the way that we relate to icons of cool - this is because we are so focused on trying to determine who we are, that we barely have the time to try and emulate the people we admire.
However, this is not all bad - Dinerstein thinks that our generation is finally starting to drift the meaning of coolness back to its origins - social activism is now an important part of millennials ethos, as we finally feel we can speak and be heard by thousand of like-minded people online, engage with them and work collaboratively to, hopefully, make a difference. We are now, more than ever, aware of social and environmental injustices that still exist in our world and we are keen to unite our voices to make them louder, in the aspiration to be heard.
However, the difficulty in gaining a ‘cool’ image has never stopped brands from trying. Therefore, brands are constantly seeking for opportunities to tap into what matters to young people. And in a generation where everything runs past us so quickly and changes so swiftly, I feel that Gen Y are clinging like never to their childhood. To times where certainty was stronger, where pop culture was more visible, where it was easier to identify who was cool or not. Where what you wore was fun and always border line tacky. Might this be because identifying really cool people is getting harder? If this why we are going back to wearing what we know was once cool?
I certainly feel nostalgic and I am all for beaded bags and necklaces, hair clips and gel bracelets. What is happening to me?