From Addison Rae to King Kylie: 2014’s Tumblr is back in a big way

Addison Rae posts photos from iPhone 4. Vintage photos of Lana Del Rey dominate our feed. Kylie Jenner has pastel pink hair.

There’s no doubt about it: the Tumblr of 2014 is back.

The once-ubiquitous aesthetic of the influential blogging site has returned to some of the internet’s biggest influencers, signaling the arrival of a messier, edgier, and freer aesthetic in the mainstream.

For some, this means a return to a bygone era of the Internet, a time when monetization was not the primary goal of publishing.

“If I had to sum it all up, I would say that people are just missing fun, and Tumblr has been a lot of fun,” said Gabi Abrao, a writer, digital creator and artist known online as “sighswoon.” “People haven’t had fun on the Internet for a long time. It’s like a job for everyone. “You don’t even have to try to be famous, it’s like working for the people.”

Tumblr launched in 2007 and quickly gained fame for its focus on visuals and the creative community. There was a time when the platform was mentioned alongside Facebook and other popular social media startups. But Tumblr, which was bought by Yahoo for $1.1 billion in 2013, has never figured out how to effectively monetize content and has fallen behind competitors as the creator economy has grown.

However, it remains an enclave online, where fandoms and artists like Abrao say they can express their creativity without expecting online influence.

In the early 2010s, Tumblr was filled with many different popular trends, including pastels, smokey filters, grunge clothing, and vintage aesthetics. “Tumblr 2014” represents an amalgamation of these trends. Rae and Jenner’s recent posts reminiscent of the style have inspired articles and TikToks, with many, including Jenner herself, declaring that “this year has a 2014 vibe.”

The 2014 Tumblr Girl of the Year has been making her way back into various online circles for several years now. Trend forecaster Mandy Lee, better known as oldloserinbrooklyn, first predicted a resurgence of the fashion style, which she described as indie meanness, on TikTok in late 2021. Main thread.

MJ Corey, who has gained more than 189,000 followers on TikTok after posting analysis of the Kardashians, said the reality TV family is often used to validate trends.

Jenner was considered a top teen trendsetter on Tumblr in 2014. Corey, known online as the Kardashian Colloquium, said Jenner’s recent pink hairstyle is an homage to a time in her life that fans call the “King Kylie” era.

Meanwhile, Kim Kardashian recently tapped Del Rey to star in the latest campaign for her shapewear brand Skims, a choice that also draws on 2014 nostalgia. That same year, the singer performed at Kardashian’s wedding to her ex-husband Ye.

Skims “has become sort of a cultural document, a cultural archive,” Corey said. “Seeing Lana in a super-romantic, hyper-nostalgic pre-Valentine’s Day campaign speaks to the candy-colored era of Tumblr.”

Others, like 25-year-old TikTok user Sapida De Souza, named Addison Rae, who ranks No. 23 on Forbes’ 2023 Top Creators list, as a leader of the 2014 Tumblr-era revival.

De Souza, a TikTok creator who posts pop culture commentary, made a video that went viral about how she thinks Addison Rae’s recent photo carousel on Instagram helped set the tone for this year’s trends. It featured images of Rae wearing a fur coat and denim shorts over sheer tights, styled with a hazy filter similar to photos popular on Tumblr in 2014.

De Souza believes the rise of the “mob wife aesthetic” and “indie meanness”—two recent trends that look grungy and edgy—are the quintessential popular Tumblr trends, updated for 2024.

The desire for such looks has increased as the “clean girl aesthetic”, characterized by minimalist, pristine style, began to fall out of fashion. According to Data But Make it Fashion, a popular Instagram account dedicated to fashion analytics, interest in “clean girl” posts has dropped by 16% every day since January 1st.

While De Souza loves the “clean girl” trend, she says embracing the Tumblr aesthetic feels like a refreshing break from the “perfect” clean girl project.

“You don’t have to work as hard to achieve the (indie raunchy) look,” she said. “You can pull things out of your closet that you have right now to achieve this look. As for the clean girl aesthetic… trying to keep up with it is much more difficult and expensive.”

Tumblr remains a source of creative inspiration for many, including artist Abrao, who has been using the platform since 2009. She said she believes the 2014 era of Tumblr continues to inspire former users because it was home to creative people at the time.

“It was really a container for the most experimental and sensitive people,” she said.

Abrao said she believes there is a desire for a more “fair” and less perfect Internet. Tumblr was, and still is, a place for many remaining users to experiment with ideas and aesthetics.

Whether Tumblr will make a comeback remains to be seen. The platform said the Tumblr of 2014 “never truly went away.”

“We regularly see things on Tumblr that fit into the category of 2014 trends: aesthetic fashion shoots with 2014 style filters, GIFs of Lana Del Rey, text posts wistfully recalling users’ teenage years, and more posts about Taylor Swift and 1989 than you might imagine,” a Tumblr spokesperson said in an email. “Tumblr has also seen a steady increase in new users since 2019, with many of these users creating posts and entire blogs based on 2014 trends and aesthetics.”

While people look to the past for inspiration, even Addison Rae avoided saying that “2014 is back.” Instead, when a fan on Tumblr asked if 2024 would be the new 2014, she replied, “2024 is the new 2024…bigger, better, prettier, more love.”

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