Remixing tradition

Where ‘traditional’ once signalled nostalgia and stability, now consumers are wanting to see heritage and tradition weaved into modern products. Traditional processes have re-emerged as gritty and exciting, and consumers are seeking to weave this old-style ‘cool’ into contemporary living

How is this sub-trend evolving?

How it was

Reviving traditional products and processes, including those that have fallen out of fashion

The knitting craft comeback of 2012 that helped revive the British wool industry.

How it is

Weaving traditional and contemporary products and processes together to create something new and exciting

The Blenheim Forge in Peckham, London, where Victorian metalwork is fused with contemporary hand- smithing techniques to make the finest quality knives.

How it will be

Tapping into a desire for greater connection to, and pride in, heritage by revisiting forgotten ingredients, products and ideas, giving relevance in a modern context.

In many markets this manifests as an overarching shift in culture – for example, Mexican collective ‘la Bola’ are growing in popularity as a group of musicians rescuing revolution folk songs and modernising them, adapting the lyrics to reflect today’s zeitgeist. Trump is a popular topic.

In-market examples from around the world

What: Kadoyasan Amazake is a traditional Japanese, non-alcoholic, hot, rice wine consumed that many are rediscovering due to it’s reputation as an elixir, imparting a variety of vitamins and minerals.
Why: Kadoyasan and others have recognised that people are looking to traditional health foods and home remedies, and this product caters to the craving for folk wisdom in new formulations and formats.
What: A Babylonstoren is a historic Cape Dutch farm which looks “to the past for inspiration”. They farm animals fruit and veg and also produce food products sold at independent eateries such as Three Mary’s at 44 Stanley in Johannesbur
Why: People want legacy and history, to learn from the past, and for these learnings to make better their present. The entire concept behind Babylonstoren is to farm and produce real, authentic products in a way that keeps to their tradition, letting people benefit from the premium produce as well as the nostalgia provoked.
What: Mei Mei is a brand bringing craft, functional tea blends to the wider public in a country where there tea has not been associated with a moment but rather used as a health remedy.
Why: The brand is innovative in taking an ingredient (tea) that has been for centuries used by Brazilians as a home-remedy for many health problems and focussing on its functional benefits in day-to-day use. They’ve mixed the folk healthcare tradition with the modern desire for healthier, natural alternatives to the artificial brands dominating the beverage market.
What: Pariya produces and distributes high-quality traditional Persian sweet treats. The pashmak, for example, is a luxury candy floss flavoured with pistachio, rose water, saffron, or vanilla.
Why: Making traditional Persian confectionary available in Australasia, Pariya offers an injection of the founder’s much-loved Iranian heritage and culture.
What: MAHOU, Spain’s biggest beer producer has relaunched “El botijo”, its legendary small bottle that was around from the 1960s to the 1980s.
Why: The limited edition of El Botijo attempts to tap into the consumer’s desire to reconnect with their own history, but also appeal to younger consumers who love the vintage look of the beer. The launch campaign includes a Spotify playlist that takes users through the different decades and music styles of 1960 to 2000.
What: During the summer of 2014, a group of culinary students from the Academy of Fine Arts in Łodz, debuted an offal-based meals mobile truck in the heart of Warsaw, to international acclaim.
Why: Having reached the point at which Warsaw is saturated with burger bars and steak joints, the students sought to prove that there are other meats out there, and that the traditional, Polish fare of offal and giblets can be reinvented with new, exciting flavors and presented in a beautiful way.
What: Vogue Italia paid homage to fashion houses Sindisa Khumalo and MaXhosa, for their ‘cultural fusion’ collections.
Why: MaXhosa and Khumalo have taken traditional prints and colours from their Xhosa and Zulu cultures respectively, and incorporated them into non-traditional, knitted garments; a celebration of heritage in contemporary form.