Armed with an iPad® and a pair of vintage Nike® high-tops neatly tucked into slim-fit jeans, they stand in line and compare t-shirts. One of them will have a vintage Madonna tour shirt, the other a Saved by the Bell-themed sweater. Their hair is crimped and they’re fully embracing neon makeup. They’re not headed to a theme party; they’re part of a movement called Hyper 80s.
Hyper 80s emerged on the youth culture scene in Europe about a year ago and is slowly tricking into the United States both by intent and pure accident. The concept is simple, blend vintage and modern together and add something new. Take the best of the 1980s and mix it with the 1990s. Then add a modern styling to it.
The idea came from DJs missing the great beat lines in mid-90s trance music and the classic sounds of 1980s analog techno and new wave. So artists began blending the two together, and what started as a few DJs, later developed into a cult following that dressed the way the music sounded. It’s embracing nostalgia with no consequence of being exact to the true form of “vintage.”
This is giving a new generation a fresh take on what retro means, because to them, it’s not retro. The 1980s were over before they were born, and the early Gen Y group has moved beyond an interest in their childhood favorites. This has created an opportunity for younger Gen Y (kids born after 1990) to look at 1980s nostalgia as a new experience. And that’s exactly what they’re doing.
Taking this new experience of 1980s bliss and mixing it with their own nostalgia (that of the mid 1990s), they have proven that nostalgia is no longer era-bound. And it’s not just in fashion and music—we’re all experiencing this phenomenon in pop culture without even knowing it. Look at the remake of The Smurfs. Despite having the same characters, it has been given a modern facelift for a generation that never experienced the original.
The same thing can be said for other modernizations such as The Karate Kid and video games such as Oregon Trail and Super Mario Bros 3D. We’re taking the best-selling and most memorable aspects of what we knew and loved and refreshing it to make it more appealing to a new generation.
And what’s even more interesting is we’re creating a Hyper 80s scene in the United States without knowing it. Hip-hop music is borrowing from 90s trance for beats and pop musicians are reintroducing saxophone breaks into dance floor anthems.
Speaking of pop stars, the best example of this is Katy Perry and her hit “Last Friday Night.” The video is almost as surreal as a 1980s John Hughes film (The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, etc.) with appearances from Kenny G, Debbie Gibson and Corey Feldman all set in a world of 80s day-glo and leggings, except with modern video games, the Internet and cell phones.
Los Angeles is already experiencing the style jolt of Hyper 80s. Just head down to Cinespace on Tuesdays and you’ll be transported into a hub between the 1980s and 1990s. And it’s only going to keep spreading.
But where do we draw the line between homage and defiled? Are there some things too timeless to integrate? It doesn’t matter in the eyes of the beholder, all nostalgia is fair game; and people feel a level of ownership with the brands, especially ones from their childhood.
So think about not only what your brand will look like in 10 years, or what it looked like 10 years ago, but consider what is it going to look like in the hands of someone willing to make a few time-sensitive edits. Or better yet, what are you doing to enable people to utilize your brand beyond a time stamp?