by Otonye Senibo
The 1980s was arguably one of the most influential eras of cinema, with classics like The Goonies, Footloose, and Beetlejuice. These movies not only shaped a whole generation of fashion but also continue to influence streetwear today. Several iconic '80s films played a pivotal role in the rise of streetwear fashion, shaping and defining its distinctive styles still sported today.
Without further ado, these are my picks for the top 1980s movies influencing modern streetwear:
1. Pretty In Pink (1986)
A teen romantic comedy-drama directed by Howard Deutch, Pretty In Pink introduced some of the most avant-garde and unconventional ‘80s fashion trends in cinema.
Main character, Andie, played by infamous Brat Pack member Molly Ringwald, is seen creating her own clothes and putting together outfits that were unique, to say the least. Fashion of the ‘80s was all about individuality and breaking gender norms, in favour of exploring personal style – something explicitly shown in this cult classic.
Even though this movie was made in 1986, it’s still as relevant today as it was back then. In recent years, the rise of people breaking gender norms and exploring different ways of expressing themselves through fashion has continuously grown and found its way to both mainstream fashion and onto runways.
2. Boyz n the Hood (1991)
John Singleton's debut as a director and writer is showcased in Boyz n the Hood, an American film that delves into the themes of youth, crime, and personal growth.
Popularising oversized clothing, iconic snapback caps and flashy fashion accessories such as gold chains and grills, these streetwear pieces were iconic staples in the movie and grew into a trend throughout the late ‘80s and ‘90s.
Fast forward 30-something years later, and the fashion industry is still taking notes with oversized silhouettes more popular than ever. Almost more prevalent since the 1980s, current popular rappers, actors, and designers still using this movie as inspiration. This can be clearly seen in Pharrell Williams' Louis Vuitton Men's Wear Summer/Spring 2024 collection.
3. The Breakfast Club (1985)
Perhaps one of the most iconic and well known movies of all time, The Breakfast Club is a 1985 independent teen comedy-drama, focusing on coming-of-age themes.
Penned, produced, and helmed by John Hughes, there was no way this movie wouldn’t be a success. Hughes was a notorious director, film producer, and screenwriter credited for creating some of the most memorable comedy films of the 1980s including Home Alone, Sixteen Candles and Ferris Bueller.
The Breakfast Club showcased a diverse group of high school students stuck in school detention, each sporting a unique fashion style highlighting their individuality, consisting of the five main characters – the brain, the athlete, the princess, the basket case, and the criminal.
These looks almost created a uniform for each person which, throughout the follow decades, can be seen adapted through the different trends of the years. Notably, Claire Standish (the princess), the most popular girl at Shemer High School, wealthy with diamond earrings and a dad who drives a BMW, looks down at everyone else and feels she's better than everyone.
In the movie, she sports princess attire, wearing a soft pink V-neck jumper with contrasting boots. Over the decades, the rich, popular mean girl who runs the school acts entitled and self-absorbed and often also wears the colour pink. This can be seen in other movies decades later, such as Mean Girls (2004) and Clueless (1995). You can easily tell which character is going to be the popular, entitled, mean girl just by the pink uniform they adorn.
The reason the 1980s has such a powerful impact on modern streetwear is because it represents a norm-breaking era that was carefree and fun.
It was a time of experiments and risks with fashion in an industry where trends seem to be recycled and mundanely repetitive. The '80s broke free from conforming to any stereotypes and simply tested fashion, an inspiration to modern streetwear today and something that will continue to be an inspiration for decades in fashion.