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Stranger Things gives culture an 80s makeover

Courtesy of Netflix

Stranger Things gives culture an 80s makeover


The Future. Netflix’s Stranger Things is such a massive hit that fans are keeping the love alive after the credits roll by bringing back the 80s-era music, hairstyles, and fashion. Much like the recent period-specific love surrounding another Netflix hit, The Queen’s Gambit, period pieces that enter the cultural conversation offer brands the opportunity to tap into a audiences’ newfound nostalgia to bring back old products or services.

Malls, mullets, and Metallica
Fast Company reports that Stranger Things love expands far beyond TV screens.

  • After Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” re-entered (and topped) the charts this past month, the season four finale also sent Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” soaring in popularity (again).
  • When it comes to style, mullets are making a strong showing again, taking inspiration from series favorites Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) and Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery).
  • Also, the all-but-extinct banana hair clips (and big clips in general) are making a comeback for women — even perms are popular again.

Additionally, Stranger Things costume designer Amy Parris collabed with 80s-favorite surf brand Quicksilver on a capsule collection inspired by the show. In true 80s style, it includes a neon purple hat and an oversized nylon windbreaker — both of which have already sold out worldwide.

University of Sydney’s Tom van Laer and Monash University’s Davide Christian Orazi note that brands across the spectrum are picking up on the renewed 80s love, and are now engaging in “retromarketing” — “the relaunch or revival of a product or service from a historical period, which marketers usually update to ultramodern standards of functioning, performance, or taste.” It’s a classic case of pulling those nostalgia-strings… even if the products may not exactly have existed in the 80s. They just need to feel 80s.

And for many consumers (and Stranger Things fans), there’s nothing even tangible for them to be nostalgic for. If you’re under the age of 30, you weren’t alive in the 80s. But, the love for the 80s is a “compensatory reconsumption” — this idea that the 80s felt simpler, purer, and maybe even cooler. So, we spend money on products and services that evoke a “wistful affection and sentimental longing for it.”

…just how your older brother did for 70s rock and roll, and your cool aunt for the flower power of the 60s.

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