This is Part 2 in our series, Movies Make Their Mark on Streetwear. Didn’t read Part 1? Check it out now….
The 1980’s ushered in a number of films that majorly influenced women’s street wear. Remember sweatbands and leg warmers, and off-the-shoulder sweatshirts (which, incidentally, have made a comeback as of late)? Then you may be shocked (or not) to know that the sexy, slouchy look was inspired by Jennifer Beals’s character in 1983’s “Flashdance,” an iconic role that was especially influential in making a generation of young women cut up their oversized sweatshirts in an attempt to look healthy and athletic.
Meanwhile, Madonna set a funkier, but no less iconic, trend with the fashions she sported in 1985’s “Desperately Seeking Susan.” The look consisted mainly of layering and studs on everything, but it’s worth breaking it down a little further. Black leggings, oversized tops and blazers, bold neon colors and lots of mesh – the clothing is a cinematic extension of the style associated with Madonna’s 1984 album, “Like a Virgin” but with a little more leather, a little less sequins and lace.
Men’s street wear also found inspiration during the 80’s. In fact, “The Breakfast Club,” has it almost completely covered. The film’s three male protagonists each represent a stereotype of the time, including their respective senses of fashion. Andrew (Emilio Estevez) is the jock, Brian (Anthony Michael Hall) is the geek, and Bender (Judd Nelson) is the rebel/”criminal.” Each one is appropriately dressed: Andrew wears a muscle vest, jeans and sneakers; whereas Brian wears a very plain shirt, chinos and plain sneakers (which today would be called “normcore”). Bender wears a biker jacket, plaid shirt, biker boots and earring. The film offered every American adolescent male a look to emulate.
While most of these styles were somewhat transient, a few films gave us some permanent fashion gems.
- Tom Cruise might have been dancing around in his underwear, but he didn’t forget to accessorize. In “Risky Business” Cruise wore Ray-Ban Wayfarers and brought them back into mainstream fashion after their popularity had waned through the 70’s. This time they were here to stay.
- From “Business” to pleasure: we move to the West Coast where a very young Sean Penn starred as a laid-back, stoner, surfer dude in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” His checkered Vans became the stuff of legend — well, at least in streetwear circles. After the film’s release checkered Vans started flying off the shelves. The company had never intended to sell their shoes outside of California and suddenly had a national success on their hands. The rest, as they say, is history.
Next up: the influence of “White Men Can’t Jump”, “Do the Right Thing”, “Boyz in the Hood” on urban wear and street wear.