’80s Revival

’80s Revival

The decade they tried to forget is back—and back in style


Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on October 2009

Photos by Kevin Mcgue

Photos by Kevin Mcgue

If you’re old enough to have experienced ’80s fashion the first time around, you might think the era of stone-washed jeans and big shoulder pads was best left forgotten. But for a new generation of Japanese women—many of them too young to remember the decade, assuming they’d been born at all—the heyday of Cyndi Lauper and Boy George is providing a new source of inspiration.

These young female fashionistas don’t consider the styles of the ’80s a source of embarrasment; rather, they warm to their convenient, ready-to-wear sense of playfulness and rebellion. The feeling isn’t necessarily shared by their male counterparts, mind you. A recent article in women’s magazine L25 reported that the new breed of effete soshokukei (herbivorous) men consider T-shirts with gaudy prints, leopard skin print, and studded, zipper-riddled leather the three biggest turn-offs in ladies fashion. Yet all three were very much in evidence at the September edition of the Tokyo Girls Collection event, which unveiled the Autumn/Winter lines of two dozen brands. It’s clear that women are aiming to present a more self-assertive and individualistic impression with their fashions, as the ideal look shifts from kawaii to kakkoii.

Miwa Mochizuki, producer for up-and-coming brand Glad News, says that “strong lifestyle,” “strong posture” and “strong attitude” have become keywords for women who want to project an image of self-assurance. By borrowing studs, aged leather and lace design elements from the ’80s, she says that fashion can provide a kind of vicarious time travel, allowing women to enjoy other eras of style.

Meanwhile, designers haven’t been afraid to wear their influences on their neon-pink sleeves. At a recent fashion show for the Theatre Products Spring/Summer collection, models in dayglo greens and pinks paraded on the catwalk with vintage ghetto blasters blaring Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” Yes, apparently it really is impossible to hear that song too many times.

Momoko Ogiwara of the brand Murua says she was inspired by punk icons such as Debbie Harry, who set the tone for fashion during the heady days of the early ’80s New York art and music scene. Others have taken cues from lighter sides of the decade. Cecil McBee, a perennial favorite with the 109 crowd, draws on late-era glam rock, while the latest collection of Milkfed, the brand founded by Sofia Coppola, channels the “California Cool” look popularized by films like Valley Girl and Less Than Zero.

Love or hate the ’80s, it looks like the fashions that defined the decade will be around for some time to come.


Address Book
  1. Glad News
    7F Shibuya 109, 2-29-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku. Open daily 10am-9pm. Tel: 03-3477-5063. www.gladnews.jp
  2. Cecil McBee
    2F Shibuya 109, 2-29-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku. Open daily 10am-9pm. Tel: 03-3477-5060. www.cecilmcbee.jp
  3. One Spo
    6F Shibuya 109, 2-29-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku. Open daily 10am-9pm. Tel: 03-3477-5147
  4. Milkfed
    Heaven27 Laforet: 4F Laforet, 1-11-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Open daily 11am-9pm. Tel: 03-5414-1340.
  5. Murua
    2F Marui Jam, 1-22-6 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku. Open Mon-Sat 11am-9pm, Sun 11am-8:30pm. Tel: 03-6410-5846. www.murua.co.jp
  6. Lip Service
    Available online at www.lipservice.jp