I’m sure everyone has noticed the 80’s comeback. As if it ever stopped right? Although it’s not new, there are some things that weren’t being attempted until recently, especially by more popular designers. As it is today, you can get just about everything you could get in the 80’s but better, in some cases. They can range from way cheaper than a vintage shop to 10 times more. Forever21 for example has some great neon colors and 80s designs and much cheaper than any vintage boutique in Portland but, if they come from names like Diesel or Torn, you could pay $180 for acid wash jeans. This doesn’t mean vintage shops have lost their purpose. Now that people see these styles in a more public light, they might be less wary of wearing them in public. Styles they’ve admired from afar or stuffed away in a closet – wearing only to 80’s parties or in font of a mirror, can now be worn for a night out (put the silk jumpsuit away).
Also, some of us are vintage-o-philes and want the real thing anyway. People who got their acid wash jacket on Karmaloop will stare in envy at my high waisted, bat winged, huge collared acidwash jacket – that is if they have a true appreciation for vintage and arent just jumping on the tend bandwagon. The topic came up in my flickr group “Is Vintage clothing the strongest fashion trend again?”. It made me really think about new trends I’ve been seeing lately in my recent hunt for summer clothing. One member answered “Vintage is ALWAYS in…true style never goes out of style!”, basically stating my response much shorter, but I felt like saying more, of course.
Firstly let me make the point that although people represent the 80s as being totally awesome, allot of people looked like total idiots in that glorious era. Bad hair, shoulder pads and oddly fitting pants.
The whole reason they are bringing styles back, especially 80s styles – stirrup pants, acid wash, hoops, neon colors and ruffles, is BECAUSE it has been really popular for a very long time. I think they’re a little late honestly. People will definitely buy new and full priced styles but if the company had brought them back years ago they would have really catered to the trend. At the same time when companies “cater to a trend” they ruin it. What’s so special about that 80’s outfit you’re wearing if 50 other people in your city are wearing it, or more?
A subculture is usually created just by companies NOT mass producing trends, but I guess they all decided it was time for vintage fashion . What this means is one of two things, 1. the trend will completely burn out and everyone will be bored with it, or, hopefully, 2. the market for REAL 80’s vintage will get hotter and “no man, this isnt that mall shit, this is real” will become a regular phrase.
Due to companies like American Apparel bringing old styles to the main strip, I think that the people interested in 80’s vintage are getting younger, making it more profitable for companies to consider. I personally would rather have an actual vintage item than a cheaply made impersonation, but there really are benefits to these styles being remade, even if it does negatively effect the vintage subculture.
One thing they are doing that is different, and in most cases worth paying more for, is improving the material and cut just enough to fix what was awkward of uncomfortable about some clothing of the past, sometimes. For example, I tried on a pair of stirrup pants the other day, and since I used to wear them in the actual 80’s, I remember them having really tight stirrups that pulled down on your waist. How else would they stay on your feet? This forced you to wear a belt to keep them up, potentially leaving you worried about camel toe (Sorry for the visual). They were also made out of a horrible early version of stretch denim that had a strange texture and would warp or melt in the dryer. Unless you got the workout style ones, in which case a belt is not an option and they had to be baggy in the legs, basically looking like harem pants. The ones I tried on the other day were unusually long as if they didn’t want the stirrups to be too tight. An improvement, but really, due to people having different leg lengths (they what?!), this change only benefits a few tall people, and people who are “taller than tall people”, get the camel toe, and short people like me get a bunch of extra material to deal with – and a lump in my shoe. When you walk, the stirrups just slip off and cause me to fidget with them constantly so for me, they are useless. They also only seem to come in one length, so, once again, clothing designed for one body type reigns supreme! They are made out of a better fabric though and its more likely you wont have to wear a belt if you dont want, but keeping them on your feet is another story.
I also recently bought a pair of acid wash jeans from Forever21, surprisingly cheaper than Diesels version (shocking right), and I was impressed with the quality and the fit. I like to wear pants inside my new big ass biker boots but since my legs are short, skinny jeans end up having to be rolled up and shoved into my boot. These ones werent so bad. I know that most clothing these days is designs for people with long legs and 13inch waists but I don’t plan to accept it. They are also a pretty thick denim, unlike the last ones I bought at target, so thin that had holes in thighs within 2 months.
I do have some acid wash jeans from the 80’s that I’ve picked up over the years and the major problem with them is ..the entire shape.. (the ones I have at least). The waist is high, but not high like designers are bringing back now, no, this kind of high is what I’ve always called “mom pants” high. They are way too tight for their supposed size, then the material gets looser just below the waist, making it look like you have a pooch. Then they continue with a strange shape the rest of the way down the legs. Were they to fit a person perfectly, the person would have to have a tiny waist and huge butt and thighs. So as tempting as it is to wear my vintage acid wash pants, they are a loss. So its pretty great that some designers are bringing back acid wash, if that’s what you want, and I do.
They look like this:
That’s not to say there weren’t ones that fit hot punk girls and boys like a second skin, but I think these were really the most common. (that’s a girl in the photo)
My favourite thing of all the bring-backs is the colors. I shop at an urban street style store in downtown Portland when I really want something awesome (Compound). Their recent influx of 80’s quality designs, colors and patterns makes me immediately spend too much money. They also carry the new “old school” Nike wind breakers. I have an original of one of these too but once again, they’ve made necessary improvements since the 80’s. Mine is a pale purple and pale orange – though both very bright. It is extraordinarily puffy and shapeless sadly and I’ve only worn it once. Laying the jacket on the floor, it is almost completely square. There is a waist cinch but all this does is create a huge amount of annoying material gathered around your waist area- because although it is too big it is also too short. Nike’s new jackets are a definite improvement to this issue . They of course come in the most amazing neon colors, have the same great ventilation, fabric and are an appropriate length for not looking like an ass.
Hells Bells is one of my favorite companies and one that fully embraces 80’s color. Stussy is also one that has most recently really been taking color risks and rightfully so! I buy this stuff new but most clothing I buy is used or at Ross or Marshall’s – and of course, Forever21 is a store I cant even walk past these days. I bought the most eye piercingly pink stripped tank top today and another with some great Navajo-neon pattern.
Just as a little perk, heres how I dressed in the 80s. Yes I was a little kid but I had style dammit and every year, as silly as it sounds, I dressed like Madonna for Halloween. If only she were so cool now.
My favorite Skirt ever, Im still looking for something like this..things like this didn’t survive it to the vintage shops sadly.
Crop shirt, acid wash pants (the good ones), hot pink feather.
A few of my favs today.
Enjoy the influx of 80s colors and designs while they’re around and cheap but don’t forget your vintage shops, etsy stores or ebay stores. The companies might be giving us things the vintage shops cant and cheaper, but you can never replace a real 80s piece, many of which no company can ever imitate.
Great 80s Websites: