It seems that what’s remembered most about the ’80s are its very worst parts. No one remembers the Smiths, R.E.M., the Pixies or New Order. Instead, they recall AquaNet, Uncle Jesse haircuts, Crockett and Tubbs, and Bon Jovi selling out stadiums.
And thanks to the cyclical nature of fashion, all of that’s back.
It’s a trend that just won’t fucking die. Irony has become reality with the hipster set: fanny packs, thick gold chains, acid-washed jean shorts, leg warmers, veritable Jane Fonda outfits.
One long-standing company that’s actually making good on the ‘80s is Huntington Beach sports-action giant Quiksilver, which has re-introduced elements of its most iconic pieces from the ’80s, when people weren’t afraid of color (in an un-ironic sort of way) and thigh-bearing short shorts.
Greg Macias, Quiksilver’s director of marketing, says the pieces were actually taken from the company’s archives, then reworked and re-tweaked, making them more 2008.
“The design inspiration was that we’d go back to our heritage,” Macias explains. “Quiksilver was founded in 1969, but our company went public in 1986. There was a lot of momentum around surf in the late ’80s, and you know, with all that color, it really came into market.”
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While the ’80s-inspired pieces don’t belong to any one collection, items such as the Vintage ST Comp board shorts ($59.50) look like they were procured straight from the closet of my big brother (or, you know, Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, or any member of the Bones Brigade). They’re everything board shorts aren’t anymore—shorter, brighter, without a drawstring. The ST Comps were both a technical and stylistic innovation at the time, brought on as a result of the booming surf scene. For the first time, Quiksilver offered a two-way stretch that provided the flexibility required for surfing. The neon-blue ST Comp shorts (also available in traffic-sign yellow!) feature a distinctly ’80s black graphic print that includes the familiar mountain-and-wave Quiksilver logo running down the length.
Other items, such as their Wayfarer-esque Ferris sunglasses ($95), the striped Family Jewel ringer tank top with the sky-blue piping and rounded seams ($62), and Zephyr corduroy shorts ($55) all exude that fun, carefree attitude the ’80s oozed with.
Much of that decade’s fashion was inspired not only by the surf scene, but by music as well, particularly new wave. Quiksilver (re-)acknowledges the collision of new wave pop and surf style with their Echo Beach line of board shorts ($59.50), in a rainbow of neon-colored, checkered, harlequin diamond and polka-dot patterns.
The best part? “Younger kids are finding it inspiring,” Macias says. “They haven’t seen it; they weren’t born yet. They love it. Anything that’s bright, crazy and different—it’s brand-new to them.”