Sometimes trends appear out of nowhere and they take off like nobody’s business. Sometimes you can’t believe that no one has ever thought of the thing before, and you’re sure you’ll never be leaving this hype behind – whether that’s wearing skinny jeans or going to “invitation-only” hidden bars.

Real talk though; most of the time someone has thought of it before. In the words of Mark Twain:

“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations.”

He said that back in the 1800s and we’re pretty sure he wouldn’t have said it if he knew people would eventually invent the internet, TVs or a decent pair of trainers.

But we feel like this rule is particularly true when it comes to fashion trends and social fads. There’s a reason that people who are 40+ are often saying, “Are they back? I wish I hadn’t thrown mine away!”

(Though for the most part, we’re glad that our dads aren’t going to step out in MC Hammer pants any time soon).

Read on for our favourite little-known trend origins.

1: Swallow Tattoos

Since Harry Styles got swallows inked onto his chest, it feels like copies of this tat have been seen all over the place.

Actually, swallows have been a symbol worn by proud sailors for hundreds of years, to show off their sailing experience; specifically that they have travelled a certain number of miles without dying.

If they did drown, the legend goes that the swallows would fly them to heaven.



2: Speakeasy Bars

If you and your mates have never been to a speakeasy bar, you might not hang out with many hipsters. For the most part though, it can be a pretty cool experience and they are popping up all over the place.

Sometimes you can’t get in without a secret code and they are usually disguised as laundrettes or something similar so you wouldn’t know they were there unless you are, in fact, IN THE KNOW. Wink, wink.

But what’s the point? They are actuasplly a throwback to the Prohibition era in the United States, when buying or selling alcohol was illegal. You had to go to a speakeasy if you wanted a naughty drink and you’d need to keep quiet about it.



3: Flatform Shoes

We all know that platform shoes have been around for hundreds of years – they were worn by the Ancient Greeks in plays to show which characters were most important, and they’ve been worn throughout the centuries since by men and women – whether for fashion or to keep their clothing off the dirty streets.

Flatforms (with thick soles across the whole shoe, rather than as part of a heel) have cropped up time and time again too, but our favourite story is that behind “brothel creeper” shoes.

This is the name given to thick, platformed shoes which have crepe soles and generally, suede uppers. They surfaced in the late 1940s and were inspired by WWII soldiers’ desert boots, which they wore back to London and – allegedly – sometimes into the brothels of Soho.

Teddy Boys made their popularity skyrocket in the ‘50s and we’re still wearing thick flatforms today.

4: Fancying Vampires

Humans are a weird species, and we’re probably the only ones who could ever fantasise about something that wants to eat us. Apart from perhaps those spiders and praying mantes that eat their mates – but that’s a whole other article.

Zombies, no. Giants, no. But vampires? We’re all about them and we’re bleeding the topic to death (if you’ll pardon the pun), from best-selling books and films like Twilight to TV series such as True Blood.

While Bram Stoker’s description of Dracula wasn’t the most flattering (and let’s be honest, he had centuries in which to glo’ up), he has been shown to use his seductive qualities as much as his supernatural powers to claim victims in many a film over the last 100 years.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Angel also set a standard for the modern, attractive souls who live at odds with their cursed existence. 

5: Athleisure

The word athleisure might have only become popular in the last few years, but any fan of the Spice Girls (so, all of us?) will know that Mel C recently revealed the origin of their nicknames. Her moniker – Sporty Spice – was given to her by Top of the Pops magazine in the ‘90s, reminding us all that she was working the sportswear-as-daywear trend several decades ago.

These days, athleisure is a little more luxe; people wear their sweats with heels or throw in different textures to mix things up, but all in all, Melanie Chisholm nailed it back in the day.



Do you know an interesting backstory for a recent trend that isn’t on this list? Tweet us or tag us on Insta @TokyoLaundry68 and you might just appear on our pages.

For the latest fashions à la Tokyo Laundry, check out new-in men’s clothing and women’s clothing today.