Eighties nostalgia is a Gowan-esq strange animal. Bizarrely it actually started to manifest itself before the decade had even come to a close, and has been feeding on its sparkly, padded shoulder wearing, Diet Coke swilling, cocaine tooting, Magnum PI mustached dreamy Max Headroom neon self ever since.
Like an obscure body in the S-K system, the lasting legacy of the ’80s for those unlucky enough to not have lived through it seems to be primarily the music, but for those who survived it, it is the fashion that still roars. Easy enough to laugh about it now, it was like the culture had developed Stockholm syndrome with bad taste. Even the garish orange browns of ’70s have aged more gracefully.
Here are 10 slices of pink-hot Toronto fashion from the ’80s, captured on videotape and forever destined to haunt the acrid memories of those who lived through them.
Ritchie’s bridal consulting for post-apocalyptic weddings, fembots and stern faced Euro sleaze.
Hard to swallow the freshly minted Hudson’s Bay chic over evolved from this kind of awesome no budget wonder.
Bernie G’s thread empire didn’t get to see out the decade, but for the ’80s his sharp suits “looked good” on all good Toronto hoons city wide.
Best known in Toronto as the place where kiddie favourite Today’s Special was lensed, Simpsons department store was always a menagerie of the most excessive ’80s lifestyles. Example: they only rented out Betamax videotapes.
Before acquiescing to market forces and watering down its brand to an almost Coors Light level of debasery, Mark’s Work Warehouse used to be a proud blue collar joint where working men got suited and booted, although this commercial sounds as if they raided all the scary records from Boards of Canada‘s hidden stash.
Yeoman panty providers Whisper managed to capture the essence of 1986 in a mere 30 second television commercial.
Another lasting piece of ’80s goldenrod was brand obsession, and if you were a jeans guy/girl, Sergio was your drug dealer.
GWG sought fame on the back of rising hockey god Wayne Gretzky, who actually found much more infamy and street cred in the decade with his playground friendly Joey Moss PSAs.
The Leather Attic dance was often imitated, never bettered.
Where better to end than the “Centre” of the city, a place where Toronto’s
thermonuclear ’80s fashion congregated and retail outlets from Simpsons to Stitches sold on the best and worst of the times.
While the ’80s might have ended on a calendar, it never died in the same way other decades did. The eternal fascination with the Martian like culture that got as much right as it did wrong continues to amuse, bemuse and influence in equal measure. It was larger than life, and no amount of posing or homage could ever hope to capture that it’s punch to the face with a velvet glove aesthetic .
Retrontario plumbs the seedy depths of Toronto flea markets, flooded basements, thrift shops and garage sales, mining old VHS and Betamax tapes that less than often contain incredible moments of history that were accidentally recorded but somehow survived the ravages of time. You can find more amazing discoveries at www.retrontario.com.