January 20, 2018

The 1980s are Back! So Why Is This Important?

the 1980s are backBy Julie Samrick

Pop culture from 30 years ago is being recycled with a vengeance.  Who knew neon colors and paint- splattered palettes would make a comeback?  At my son’s soccer tournament over Halloween weekend a girls’ team donned side ponytails and off-the-shoulder Flashdance shirts that read “Let’s Get Physical.”  The primetime music shows like The Voice and X Factor feature contestants covering songs from the early 1980s of late.  And at malls I see a plethora of long shirts, leggings, and short boots.


Marketers are smart to recycle whatever the current parental generation enjoyed as children. It makes sense- by doing so these parents will want to share the experience with their own children. Every time this happens it reflects what was happening 25-30 years before.  Therefore, today “The Smurfs” are back, as are “The Muppets,” “Care Bears,” and “Hello Kitty.” 


I took my kids to see Wreck It Ralph last weekend and though I liked the arcade game, 1982 nostalgia, I’m not sure my 21st century, Mario Brother-loving sons did. I’d imagine as parents we often enjoy these recyclables even more than our kids do because they are just learning about it. We already have memories of those things; we are already adoring fans.


My mom used to marvel back when my friends and I wore Keds tennis shoes, pegged our jeans, and watched The Wonder Years. It reminded her of the sights, sounds and fashions of her own youth just as many of us feel today. I used to shrug my shoulders when she’d say this- but I get it now.


Though it makes me feel old, and slightly ripped off that marketers can rehash things and we’ll run out with our wallets open, ready to consume them again, there’s also something comforting about this phenomena. It’s a shared memory, a shared tradition we get to have with our own kids. It’s an opportunity to talk with our kids, too- about how the things they’re experiencing now were different or the same. Above all it’s an opportunity to talk about values with our kids. Do you like that look?  What do you think of that show? For some reason they’ve brought back colored and print jeans, but there used to be things called brooches and shoulder pads, too. I wonder why those didn’t survive?


Children enjoy hearing stories about their parents’ experiences and once they have their own kids they will appreciate these talks all the more.


Which fashions or trends from the 1980s are you happy to see back? And which ones do you hope stay away?


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