The 1980s was maybe the best decades for men’s fashion, as well as music and culture. This was when several subcultures were born and met each other, creating new styles and genres. It does not surprise that today high-end designers are still inspired by all the menswear subcultures of the 1980s.
Both women and men’s fashion in the 1980s placed particular emphasis on flamboyant clothes and accessories. The main aim was to be and feel glamorous while empowering all bodies and help everyone express their true personality through their style.
Nevertheless, it is impossible to sum up the fashion inspirations of a whole decade in a few sentences. For this reason, we have investigated all the best subcultures of the 1980s, to explore how they have and still are inspiring today’s fashion.
If you are ready to embrace the ultimate 1980s vibes, here you will find anything you need to know to improve your wardrobe.
Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin were only some of the gods of Heavy Metal, who shaped history with their unique style. Heavy metal fashion is still a huge trend.
People wear patches and badges from their favorite metal bands with pride, and this subculture has managed to remain unique.
Heavy Metal Fashion Inspiration
Metalheads, as metal fans were usually called because of their long hair, transformed a simple leather rocker jacket into a pure piece of art. Cut-off denim jackets, combat boots or white sneakers, and tight worn-out jeans were a must for all those who listened to his music.
In the late 1980s, heavy metal met glam rock, giving birth to the glam metal fashion. This was especially preeminent in the Japanese visual kei (or “visual style”) fashion, which incorporated punk, goth, rock and Geisha-inspired vibes. Leather jackets and studded accessories were a must, together with eccentric hairstyles and feminine silhouettes.
Glam Rock / Visual Kei
Visual Kei fashion was born in Japan, inspired by the new movements developed in Osaka and Tokyo. This fashion promoted eccentric and flamboyant costumes and makeup, and leather tight-worn clothes. The aim was to achieve an androgynous look, which resembled the New-Romantic movement.
Punk was especially popular among the younger generation. Guns N’ Roses and The Sex Pistols were the main music and fashion icons. They inspired their fans to customize their own style with random bits of fabrics, often attached to their clothes with safety pins.
Get the Perfect Punk Style
Back in the 1980s, punk fashion was characterized by ripped skinny jeans, band t-shirts, multi-coloured mohawks, and leather or denim jackets. To be a true punk you don’t have to follow others’ style but enjoy the creation of yours. This means that you are free to experiment with different outfits.
Often described as retaliation to punk, the New Romantic movement was led by David Bowie and other fashion icons. Boy George and many others gave the New Romantic movement an androgynous twist, introducing bright makeup, extravagant accessories and silky clothes.
Become a New Romantic Icon
Flowy jackets, pirate shirts, and leather and lace clothing were used to highlight people’s silhouettes and create new fashion standards.
In the early 1980s, the Stray Cats and many others introduced the so-called Teddy Boy look. Everybody wanted to revive Elvis Presley’s vibes, and the pompadour and the quaff became some of the most popular haircuts. Bowling shirts, Hawaiian shirts, black leather jackets and bright colors were a must.
In Australia and Eastern Europe, the skater subculture was particularly popular. This fashion was all about sportswear, with a focus on baseball caps, plaid shirts, simple t-shirts and baggy pants. Accessories were important, and all skaters wore a pair of Converse All Stars or Vans sneakers.
The gothic culture was all about dark clothes and heavy makeup. Young people wore their favorite band shirts, together with cargo pants, leather jackets, and bizarre accessories. Before merging with the emo subculture, gothic fashion embraced the total black style and made it popular.
The skinhead fashion was inspired by ska punk. It consisted of basket shoes, polo shirts, cargo pants, braces, pork pie hats, and combat boots. The main fashion icons were bands like the Bosstones and the Specials.
In the 1980s, sports shoes became a high-priced fashion item. Nike introduced the first-ever Air Jordan sneaker, inspired by the basketball player Michael Jordan. The trend was immediately followed by other brands, such as Puma, Fila, and Nike.
Get the Hip Hop Look
The pop-culture and the hip-hop influence merged, giving birth to a new style, made of sportswear, oversized hoodies, basketball caps, and cool sneakers.
The preppy look was inspired by American wealthy teenagers’ fashion. Polo t-shirts, turtleneck sweaters and pastel colors soon merged with a more vibrant style, which then evolved into a new movement inspired by the American TV drama Miami Vice.
Magnum P.I.’s Influence
From his villa in Hawaii, private detective Magnum III from the popular TV show inspired a new movement. His figures inspired a new lifestyle, made of Hawaiian shirts, gold rings, cowboy boots and suit jackets. Tropical clothing such as safari jackets and Bermuda shorts soon inspired even high-fashion designers.