Aoife Byrne

September 5, 2022

Could The 80s Dethrone Y2K Fashion?

Here's how retailers can act now on the next nostalgic revival

The 80s are on the cusp of a resurgence, finding a fresh new fanbase off the back of recent pop culture moments, most notably, Stranger Things and Barbiecore.

Read on to discover the key buys for 2023 and find out how you can leverage Y2K to ensure this trend's success.

Abercrombie & Fitch, boohoo and more use EDITED for guidance on successfully ranging the hottest trends. Get in touch today to join the lineup. 

80s fashion

Key Takeaways

  • With maximalism firmly established as a core trend in the mass market, the 80s present a natural progression of this theme, tapping into existing narratives such as Dopamine Dressing.

  • Several retailers, including Free People and Madewell, are already backing the decade, championing retro denim silhouettes and heritage sneaker brands Reebok and New Balance.

  • Utilize the popularity of Y2K to capture the budding 80s consumer. The early aughts revived several trends from the decade, including slogan tees, colored denim and Ray-Bans, placing these products in prime position today.

  • Euphoria has driven make-up trends away from barely-there minimalism toward playful graphic looks. Capitalize on 80s beauty trends of colorful eyeshadow and statement blush for commercial entry-level products, ideal for next year’s festival lines.

  • For 2023, metallics, bold tailoring and neon hues will be essential trend buys.

 

Trend Accelerators

Stranger Things

One of this trend’s leading influences is the Stranger Things franchise. With Netflix reporting the largest opening weekend and largest viewership for an English language show in its first 28 days on the platform, the series’ wide viewership and devoted audience have been fundamental in propelling all things 80s, from music to fashion.

Pop Culture

Kate Bush’s 1985 hit, Running Up That Hill, went to number one in the UK following season four of Stranger Things, while leaked shots from the upcoming Barbie movie reveal a strong 80s aesthetic with neon hues and retro workout gear. In May, the hotly-anticipated follow-up to the 1986 cult movie, Top Gun, hit cinemas, while on TikTok, perms and mullet-style ‘wolf cuts’ are trending.

 
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Netflix & Warner Bros.

On the Runway

Miami Swim saw high-leg cuts surface as a key fit for swimsuits and bikini bottoms, while during the recent Pre-Spring 2023 presentations, the 80s were backed as an essential narrative. Metallics, neons and peplums were just some of the trends featured, suggesting an imminent revival in Spring 2023.

In Retail

The 80s are already creeping into high summer assortments. SKIMS launched a metallic swimwear collection in July with a viral campaign to match, while neon green and barbie pink have bubbled up as the defining shades of the summer.

 
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Cupshey Spring 2023 - Image via Spotlight & SKIMS

 

Trend Status

While the levels of interest in the 80s don’t come close to those in Y2K, the decade has surpassed searches for 90s style. Inquiries spiked following the release of Stranger Things 4 in June and have maintained interest levels since. The revival of the 00s brings with it many elements from the 80s, notably crossing over with the Indie Sleaze aesthetic from the era. This aspect has and will continue to, help bolster the decade into 2023.

80s fashion

Pinterest UK Searches

 

Current Market Analysis

Who’s Investing?

Free People currently leads the pack with over 100 products containing the descriptor “80s.” The vast majority of these items fall into the brand’s vintage clothing and accessory range, which includes one-of-a-kind floral blouses and statement earrings. Madewell also boasts a significant assortment, largely comprised of balloon-fit jeans and pants. Elsewhere, Monki is retailing neon arm warmers and cropped hoodies, while Reebok sneakers are touted as a classic from the era at Forever 21 and ARKET.

80s fashion

Which Categories have the Most Backing?

Bottoms dominate when it comes to 80s-inspired silhouettes, most significantly, jeans. The aforementioned balloon cut supplies 19 styles at Madewell, while high-waisted mom jeans are noted at Abercrombie & Fitch and the “80s skinny” at Zara. Graphic tees and sweatshirts account for the majority of tops – the second most invested in category – while for footwear, Teva, Reebok and New Balance are the key names stocked.

80s fashion

Products Currently Retailing

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BusyLady Baca & the Goods at Free People, Madewell, Abercrombie & Fitch
 
 

2023 Buyers’ Checklist

Spring/Summer 2023

  • Bold silhouettes and striking colorways will be key for SS23 buys.

  • Following the success of Dopamine Dressing, consumers have grown in confidence when it comes to color, bringing with it a greater appetite. The neon hues we’ve seen bubble up this summer will obtain a wider trend status, highlighting pink, green and orange tones as essential colorways.

  • Tying into both 00s and 80s stories, the slogan tee is poised for a revival – think positive statements that allude to Frankie Says Relax and retro classics like ‘I ❤ NY.’

  • Power dressing will see high-waisted suit trousers and boxy, oversized blazers in demand – trends that have already proven successful in SS22.

  • Bomber jacket arrivals grew 26% this season and were backed again in the Pre-Spring 2023 shows, highlighting it as one to watch – an ideal product for transeasonal assortments.


Key Buys

  • High-leg swimwear

  • Graphic tees

  • Bold Tailoring

  • Neon colorways

  • Bomber jackets

  • Colorful eyeshadow

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Beach Riot at Free People, Zara, Nasty Gal

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T by Alexander Wang at Revolve, New Look, Makeup Revolution at BEAUTY BAY

 

Runway Inspiration

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Alessandra Rich, Diesel, Brandon Maxwell Pre-Spring 2023 - Images via Spotlight

Fall/Winter 2023

  • Metallics will form the foundation of 80s-leaning collections next fall, from glamorous sequins and sparkly lurex to hi-shine synthetics.

  • Look to the era’s punk movement for a directional approach, ensuring oversized biker jackets are a core item within outerwear lines.

  • The tulle skirt, either forming part of a dress or as its own silhouette, will be essential for partywear season, while acid wash denim will be key within casualwear ranges, utilized for trucker jackets and high-waisted jeans.

Key Buys

  • Sequinned partywear

  • Sparkly knitwear

  • Punk biker jackets

  • Tulle skirts

  • Metallics

  • Acid wash denim

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PrettyLittleThing, Boden, H&M

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boohoo, Monki, New Look
 

Runway Inspiration

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Koché, Saks Potts, Oscar de la Renta Pre-Spring 2023 - Images via Spotlight
 

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