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Is the landline making a comeback? Gen Z says they want a return to lost ‘glamorous accessory’ to feel like ‘a main character in a noughties TV show’


From the resurgence of vinyl to 90s clothing, Gen Z’s love of nostalgia and all things is well-documented.

And the latest retro trend to sweep younger generations appears to be the landline.

Those born before 1995 will fondly remember a house phone, often attached to the wall, and occasionally in a garish, novelty design.

Cult 90s and noughties TV shows, including Juno, Lizzie McGuire and Mean Girls, all relied on their main characters love of the landline.

And now it appears teens and those in their early twenties are bringing back the trend, with vintage phones selling out on eBay and other resell sites and some people even getting landlines installed in their homes.

Nicole Randone, 24, from Westchester, New York, has a purple Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen-branded landline first sold in 2003, in her room.

Nicole Randone, 24, from Westchester, New York, has a purple Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen-branded landline first sold in 2003, in her room. 

Gen Z said using phones makes them feel like characters in TV shows. Hilary Duff is pictured in Lizzie McGuire, which aired in the noughties

Gen Z said using phones makes them feel like characters in TV shows. Hilary Duff is pictured in Lizzie McGuire, which aired in the noughties

From the resurgence of vinyl to 90s clothing, Gen Z's love of nostalgia and all things is well-documented. One TikTok user, from the US, shares her 'vintage phone'

From the resurgence of vinyl to 90s clothing, Gen Z’s love of nostalgia and all things is well-documented. One TikTok user, from the US, shares her ‘vintage phone’

Brooklyn, from the US, hung a home phone on the wall because she ‘thought it looked cute’ despite not having a landline installed.

‘I saw this and thought it was the cutest,’ she said in TikTok.

Another, called Cassidy, said she got her hands on a 80s vintage Garfield phone, which came without a wire.   

Sunny, also from the US, brought her Hello Kitty landline after seeing a TikTok of someone using a frog shaped phone.

Like many her’s isn’t installed to a real line. Sunny connects hers to her iPhone via a Bluetooth adaptor meaning it rings when her iPhone  rings.

‘I love the novelty of talking to my friends and sitting in one place. When I’m having a long text conversation with a friend, I’ll just ask if we can speak over the phone and catch up,’ she told the Guardian

In her video, which has been watched almost 17,000 times, Sunny tells viewers that she bought the Hello Kitty landline from Facebook Marketplace for ’30ish dollars’ and that it is also available on Mercari and eBay

She also explains how she was able to connect her iPhone to the landline using a ‘Cell2Jack’ adaptor, which means any call she receives on her smartphone will go through to the Hello Kitty phone. 

Another, Zoomer, Nicole Randone, 24, from Westchester, New York, has a purple Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen-branded landline first sold in 2003, in her room.

Nicole, who goes by Miss 2005 online, shares 90s and noughties nostalgia to her nearly 200,000 followers

Her Mary Kate and Ashley phone is pictured

Nicole, who goes by Miss 2005 online, shares 90s and noughties nostalgia to her nearly 200,000 followers. Her Mary Kate and Ashley phone is pictured

Novelty phones, like the the hamburger phone used in the 2007 film Juno, are popular on eBay. Elliot Page is pictured as Juno

Novelty phones, like the the hamburger phone used in the 2007 film Juno, are popular on eBay. Elliot Page is pictured as Juno

Gen Z say they want to recreate moments from hit noughties films like 2004 Mean Girls.Amanda Seyfried is pictured

Gen Z say they want to recreate moments from hit noughties films like 2004 Mean Girls.Amanda Seyfried is pictured

eBay is full of people selling and buying novelty landlines online

eBay is full of people selling and buying novelty landlines online

She added to the Guardian that one her ‘favourite memories’ was using the tan landline that her parents that was mounted to the kitchen wall,’.

‘I always fantasied about the day I’d have one in my own room.’

‘When people see my landline, they treat it like a toy. Since I’m an influencer, I’m constantly online, so it’s really nice to disconnect and it almost feels like an escape,’ she added.

Nicole, who goes by Miss 2005 online, shares 90s and noughties nostalgia to her nearly 200,000 followers.

She says using a landline means she can ‘live out her childhood fantasy’ and makes her ‘feel like a main character’ in one of her favourite TV shows – which include  One Tree Hill, The O.C and Gilmore Girls.

Emily Flowers, from New York, said that she has installed a landline in her house.

In a series on TikTok videos she shared voicemails. ‘Pov your apartment gets a landline so we come home to updates,’ she wrote.

Despite the resurgence among young people, in the UK and the US the number of landlines are dying.

Nicole (pictured) says using a landline means she can 'live out her childhood fantasy' and makes her 'feel like a main character' in one of her favourite TV shows - which include One Tree Hill, The O.C and Gilmore Girls

Nicole (pictured) says using a landline means she can ‘live out her childhood fantasy’ and makes her ‘feel like a main character’ in one of her favourite TV shows – which include One Tree Hill, The O.C and Gilmore Girls

Sam Casper, 27, from  West Hollywood, has her own landline installed. 

She owns a light pink landline that belonged to her step-father’s grandmother, who bought it a few years ago from Urban Outfitters. 

She said that she uses it to speak to her friends, many of whom are also on landlines.  

‘It’s so cute and romantic. It’s very Sex and the City, which is why we started doing it. I really loathe cellphones, because everyone cancels at the last minute these days through text, which I find so absurd.’

She also has a voicemail machine, but is selective about who she gives her number too.

‘There’s no caller ID, so I can’t screen who’s calling,’ she said. 

‘If I meet a new friend and they’re the type of person I’d invite back to my house, they get the landline. Whenever I hear my phone ringing, I get so giddy. I love to just sit there and talk and twirl the little cord.’

Between 2000 and 2022,  the number of households with a landline fell by four million.

Gen Z say they want to live out the fantasy of TV shows like Gilmore Girls

Gen Z say they want to live out the fantasy of TV shows like Gilmore Girls

TikTok user Makaroni Pony tells viewers we lost a glamourous accessory in the old-fashioned rotary phone

TikTok user Makaroni Pony tells viewers we lost a glamourous accessory in the old-fashioned rotary phone

There are now around 22million connections in the UK, down 15 per cent from its peak at the turn of the century when 95 per cent of homes had one, according to data from Uswitch.

Some 1.41million have decided to ditch theirs in the past three years alone, additional data from Statista shows.

The research shows the landline is in terminal decline, with five million households never using theirs for phone calls.

BT is currently switching all its customers’ landline phones to digital, affecting around 10 million homes.

As such, many people who are using the phones are doing so purely for aesthetic.    

Brooklyn, who goes by Brook The Shopaholic on the platform shared a pink phone she got online.

‘I saw this on Amazon and thought it was the cutest thing ever’ before mimicking one of the characters from the 1995 film The Babysitters Club. 

 ‘I don’t have a landline, but I’m legit going to hang this on my wall. I’m obsessed,’ she added.

Such was the interest in her landline that TikTok user Sunny posted a video explaining how to get hold of a Hello Kitty phone

Such was the interest in her landline that TikTok user Sunny posted a video explaining how to get hold of a Hello Kitty phone

Dozens of old landline phones, many of them not working, are being sold online as Gen Z buy them up.

‘We cannot replicate the entertainment a landline provided, at any minute, someone in the household could just pick up the phone and listen to your entire conversation,’ one TikToker said. 

‘Or your on a phone call, suddenly there’s another voice at the end of the line, it was a three way call this entire time. You were sabotaged, that drama’.

Makaroni Pony and has more than 45,000 followers said that society lost a ‘really lost a glamorous accessory’ and is desperate to bring it back. 

The video goes on to show a friend introducing her heart-shaped Disney landline as her ‘first phone’. 

Speaking as though the phone is almost unrecognisable to viewers, she explains that she used to pick up the receiver and dial her friend’s number by ‘pushing the buttons’.

It comes as young adults are turning their backs on high-tech smartphones in favour of ‘dumb’ models from the 1990s.

Experts say the trend among those in their late teens and early 20s is due to a social media craze for gadgets from the era and a desire to switch off from today’s screen-dominated world.

Lou Ellerton, of market research agency Kantar, said: ‘We’re heading back into a period of massive 90s’ nostalgia.’

In the late noughties and early 2010s people brought typewriters to coffee shops as the ultimate hipster move

In the late noughties and early 2010s people brought typewriters to coffee shops as the ultimate hipster move

While the latest phones can cost up to £1,500, low-tech ones are available for less than £10 –with no expensive monthly data bills.

In May, Nokia launched a new, hot pink flip phone called the Nokia 2660 Flip.

Its launch comes exactly 25 years on from the launch of Nokia’s first ever flip phone back in 1998.

University of Illinois  student Sammy Palazzolo went viral in December 2022 for using $40 flip phone on a night out. 

‘[My friends and I] realised that every single problem that we have on a night out — everything that leads to us crying, everything that leads to us having a bad hookup, everything that leads to us having a bad time — stems from our [smartphones],’ she explained in the video. 

‘Make the switch, f*** your phone, and get a flip.’

It’s joined low-rise jeans, Uggs boots and butterfly tops as the latest noughties trend to make a comeback.

The surge in demand of disposable cameras also taps into the mid-noughties trend of indie sleaze, which has made a comeback in recent months.

Eight years ago may feel like yesterday for many, but teenagers who were children in 2014 are already nostalgic for the era and are taking to TikTok for praise their love for the fashion, music and style of the 2010s. Pictured: A TikTok users tribute to 2014

Eight years ago may feel like yesterday for many, but teenagers who were children in 2014 are already nostalgic for the era and are taking to TikTok for praise their love for the fashion, music and style of the 2010s. Pictured: A TikTok users tribute to 2014

A key part of the aesthetic is the use of deliberately ‘outdated technology’. 

Another key trend making a return from the era is outdated technology, with Bella Hadid being spotted dozens of times in wired headphones stepping away from airpods. 

Vogue said the supermodel was  bringing back the wire headphone after being photographed using a pair – while now headphones with a wire are outdated, in the 2010s in was seen as the ultimate hipster thing to do to bring a typewriter to a cafe instead of a laptop. 

It’s one of the latest Y2K trends making a comeback.

In 2021, teenagers who were children in 2014 have shared they are already nostalgic for the era and are taking to TikTok for praise their love for the fashion, music and style of the 2010s.

The bizarre trend sees teenagers playing music from the era, with hits from Lana Del Ray, Five Seconds of Summer, Arctic Monkeys and One Direction among the big hitters.

In dozens of clips, Gen Zers show videos and pictures of styles and images from the time including thigh high socks, tennis skirts, ripped tights and over-saturated photos – as was also popular during indie sleaze. 

Some are also dressing up in the trends with matte lipstick, American Apparel clothes and posing with cigarettes and multicoloured Starbucks drinks.

Those in their mid-twenties have also joined the trend, with many reactivating their Tumblr profiles to show what they wore as teens, while others have joked the era shouldn’t be romanticised as they cringe at their own fashion choices from the era.    

Many have pointed to the social networking site Tumblr -‘and cult of Tumblr girls’ – to glorify the aesthetic – with #2014tumblr racking up more than 47 million views on TikTok, while #2014 has more than five million views and #2014aesthetic has a further 1.5 million.



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