The year is 2021, we’re still in a global pandemic, and wired headphones are rising in popularity again. Yes, you’ve read that right – some people are willingly opting for a tangled mess in their pocket in pursuit of a ‘music aesthetic’.
Just like how we might all laugh at an iPod Nano, wired headphones are now considered to be a vintage accessory of the past. This makes sense if you think about the fashion industry’s twenty-year cycle, as many people in the 2000s were enjoying the latest trendy tech item – the Apple wired headphones – which were first released in 2001. The real question is, why are people wanting to revert to an older piece of technology when there are far better options on the market?
The TikToker @thedigifairy raises some excellent points in her viral video discussing the recent trend. In particular, she makes us consider who starts these fashion trends. Many female celebrities have recently been seen rocking wired headphones, including fashion influencers such as Lily-Rose Depp, Bella Hadid and Zoe Kravitz. If Bella Hadid can look like a humble queen effortlessly wearing wired headphones, why can’t we? Celebrities are at the forefront of fashion trends and if they’re embracing older technology, then it seems more socially acceptable for many.
However, it seems quite classist to be able to afford wireless headphones, like AirPods, but reject them in favour of a ‘humble music aesthetic’. Being unable to afford the latest tech isn’t a fashion aesthetic until rich beautiful women say so.
Looking ‘poor’ is becoming more popular. The rise of vintage and charity shopping amongst the middle-class increases the prices of stock due to an increase in demand. This makes it harder for people who cannot afford more expensive goods to actually find clothes, which in turn, keeps many in a cycle of deprivation.
If middle-class people get on board this trend, will wired headphones still be accessible and cheap for others who have no other option? We’ve gone through many cycles of music consumption styles before – like the return of cassette tapes and vinyl, despite the accessibility of digitally installing an album. Defining your status is no longer just about what music you consume, but also how you consume.
It was controversial in 2016 when Apple removed the headphone jack from iPhones, and now people are going out of their way to revert back. If you own an iPhone, you need a wired headphone lightning cable adapter on top of wired headphones. Or, as Apple wants you to do, you can buy their premium AirPods and cut out the middleman. It seems ironic to start using older technology again when newer technology is actively encouraging you to move forwards with the times.
The trend is fairly harmless in the grand scheme of things, and it helps to normalise outdated technology for those who feel pressured to keep up-to-date on the latest tech. However, it is bizarre that people willingly dispose of their AirPods in favour of wired headphones. If you have some wired headphones lying around, sure – go for it. But if you’re buying a brand-new pair to look like Lily-Rose Depp, please consider your privilege.