Kira Vaden was compulsively refreshing eBay, watching prices rise and fall on one specific product: “vintage” iPod Shuffles from the late aughts. Vaden, a 23-year-old Starbucks barista from Peoria, Ill., finally pulled the trigger in December, purchasing a pack of two Shuffles for $11.50. She didn’t know whether the tiny music players worked or if she could even hunt down a charger. No matter. Vaden was planning to use the iPods as hair clips.
Once the package made it to Vaden’s home, she fastened the small lilac and seafoam-green devices—conveniently fitted with a clip on the back—into her chocolate-brown hair. Vaden then filmed a TikTok, showing off her unique barrettes. She captioned the video, “My new favorite accessory #ipodnano.” (When commenters called her out for misnaming the iPod, she made a reply video: “it was. An. Accident.”) The original TikTok now has 2.1 million views. “A lot of people love it, but a lot of people—they hate it because it makes them feel old,” Vaden says. “So, so many people are angry about it, which I think is crazy.”
Shrugging off the naysayers, Vaden is part of a wave of creators in their teens and early 20s bringing back now-obsolete technology for aesthetic purposes. Just as the 2010s saw the revival of the vinyl record and the Polaroid camera, the 2020s are ripe for repurposing bygone tech, from iPods, to flip phones, to Ethernet cables.