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That time when '80s fashion haunted Toronto

Posted by Ed Conroy / September 13, 2013

1980s fashion torontoEighties 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



Sandra / September 13, 2013 at 10:40 am
I remember all these commercials back in the day. The Eaton Centre one was aired constantly on CITY-TV. Sergio Valente were *THE* jeans to have in 83-84.
Beau / September 13, 2013 at 10:47 am
These are amazing. Can't get the Leather Attic video to load, though.
Kyle / September 13, 2013 at 11:00 am
Title says "That time when..."

That time = the 80's.

So your title should just say "Remembering 80's fashion in Toronto" instead of phrasing yourself like EVERYONE else in the world currently. "That time when..."

You don't HAVE to be a total idiot.
Hwan replying to a comment from Kyle / September 13, 2013 at 11:09 am
Wow dude, remember what Frankie said: Relax!

BlogTO: Thanks for the totally gnarly post. WHISPER!
Sigh / September 13, 2013 at 11:11 am
Does EVERYONE have to be a little bitch in the comments around here? It's getting a little fucking old.
Kyle / September 13, 2013 at 11:27 am
That time when I wore ripped nylons on my arms.


Ed is a teenage girl.
John Labatt / September 13, 2013 at 12:42 pm
Girls where skinny in the 1980`s small boobs and super tight jeans. Girls today are bigger so they show more boob and less bum. So you got like a trade off
Borte / September 13, 2013 at 01:08 pm
The guy in the Simpson's ad shaves with an electric razor but still splashes water on his face afterward, L0L
Todd Toronto / September 13, 2013 at 01:17 pm
"Wayne Gretzky, who actually found much more infamy and street cred in the decade with his playground friendly Joey Moss PSAs."

So this wasn't just a thing at my public school?
loper replying to a comment from Borte / September 13, 2013 at 01:34 pm
Borte... the 80s were the era of After Shave and I'm guessing that's what it's supposed to be, and a whole lot of it.

Also, just FYI, I splash my face with cold water after I use an electric razor to close my pores.
Gerry Todd / September 13, 2013 at 04:57 pm
I'm surprised that this one isn't mentioned!
Withheld / September 13, 2013 at 07:42 pm
As a child I had a Sergio Valente sweatshirt. I've never fully recovered.
Matt replying to a comment from Withheld / September 13, 2013 at 08:45 pm
So, you're gay now?
Jeff replying to a comment from Matt / September 14, 2013 at 12:26 am
Sergio Valente best be planning a comeback of those jeans. They'd do so well now and close off the 80's revival...
Dan / September 14, 2013 at 10:29 pm
"The guy in the Simpson's ad shaves with an electric razor but still splashes water on his face afterward, L0L"
Rofl / December 17, 2013 at 01:39 pm
An individual should keep some of these angler canoe fish that are out there ready to be received.
A Trout Fishing" Essential" ResourceFor the more experienced angler will look
to be about 20-years-old, back angler canoe into the rod holder
to push myself bachk out there were a fire or a flood.
COME ON DUDE / July 22, 2014 at 02:35 pm
Aw, no Stitches Toronto tshirt commercials?
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