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Adidas Leads 80s Retro Wave

Recycling decades is a favorite pastime. Now the decade of the 1980s is rearing its head once more. Adidas is one of the stars of the comeback.


Adidas tennis shoes are one of the the big stars of a current 80s revival in Germany

Retro fashion is hip. And in Germany, the era to emulate these days is the 1980’s—that decade that gave us Madonna and New Wave, Flashdance and acid wash.

It isn’t hard to find out what’s hip in Berlin these days. Just take a stroll through the Hackescher Markt area in the shiny new Mitte neighborhood. The shop windows of the various boutiques provide a good indicator of what clothing is cool to be seen in.

One of the hippest things among the trend conscious these days sports three little stripes—the Adidas stripes.

Yes, Adidas, the brand that takes many back to the heady days of the 1980s, when they last enjoyed de rigeur status. Today Adidas is enjoying a booming business thanks to this wave of nostalgia for New Wave and sneakers-worn-with-everything.

In the midst of the sneaker-crazed 80's, rappers Run-DMC paid homage to the label in the 1986 hit "My Adidas." The group exposed suburban teens to the flash of Adidas. With its laces missing and tongue pulled out, the ‘Superstar’ model became the ultimate street look in athletic shoes until competitors Nike and Reebok stole the show in the late eighties.

A Roaring Comeback

But now the brand is back. And the Adidas store in central Berlin is making the most of this remembrance of things past. It has mounting a photography exhibition of the works of Jamel Shabazz, who took photographs of his fellow urban African-Americans throughout the 1980’s. Many of Shabazz’s subjects are wearing Adidas, perhaps not surprisingly.

They’re also sporting "fly glasses", large square glasses big at the time. The women of the time tended toward spaghetti strap tops, and men found fulfillment in Adidas track suits. In true fashion fashion, now it’s all come back again, twenty years after the fact.

Those who watch the cycles of fashion say pop icons and street kids sought out Adidas’ vintage styles as a response to the technical and neon wizardry of modern sneakers. This return to the old, to the "originals" prompted Adidas to re-release old models such as the ‘Superstar’ shell toes for a whole new generation to flaunt, and pay for.

The 80’s Popping Up Everywhere

But Adidas isn’t the only 80’s trend making a comeback these days. A quick glance at the billboards around Berlin will induce a strong sense of déjà-vu in anyone over the age of 30.

Advertising has gone crazy for models with glossy lips, heavy eye make-up and spaghetti straps. Hair is getting bigger, sometimes it’s feathered. Sunglasses are expanding, sometimes they threaten to completely take over the face.

The broadcast media has caught on. Radio stations in Germany have found a format for success by blending hits from the 80’s in with chart toppers from today. And on German television, a new show called "The 80’s" has debuted allowing people to relive the best, and sometimes the worst, of the decade.

Everybody’s favorite alien, ET, is being resurrected as well. Steven Spielberg’s hit film is being re-released on its twentieth anniversary.

And don’t leave out the clubs. 80’s nights have become a regular staple in dance clubs around the country. The current crop of 20-somethings have developed a fondness for New Wave and other tunes from the time.

How long the craze will last is anyone’s guess. Trends are fickle, fashion trends more so than anything else. But as one trend watchers say, an era is usually seen as ugly or laughable ten years on. After twenty years it turns interesting and eccentric. After thirty, it becomes a classic. According to that rule, the 80’s could be around for a while.