An old famous Italian pop song asks “Cosa resterà di questi anni ’80?” meaning “What will remain of the ’80s?”. Today something has certainly remained as some brands that were successful in those years have returned and young consumers from the Y and Z generations–in addition to older aficionados–seem to love them.
Apart from the fact that the ’80s are trendy again and inspired many s/s ’18 collections just seen on many catwalks, several authentic premium-though-affordable sportswear brands of those years are now being revamped. And, like back in the day, the young new breed loves to wear their logos.
Why are some entrepreneurs now resurrecting brands that Millenials and younger consumers should enjoy even though today’s kids are quite different from the stylish rebels of the ’80s like, for instance, the so-called Paninari and many others devoted to Fiorucci?
Fiorucci fever is still high
Fiorucci, the brand identified by–among its many logos–a two-angel image “stolen” from a painting by Italian Renaissance painter Raffaello Sanzio, was founded by style guru Elio Fiorucci in 1967, exactly 50 years ago. Although it was dormant for years in the hands of Japanese trading group Itochu, in 2015–coincidentally the same year Elio Firorucci died–the brand was bought by British entrepreneurs Janie and Stephen Schaffer. Its relaunch began with a temporary store opened in February 2017 in New York and officially debuted in September 2017 with the inauguration of the first 500-sq.-meter flagship store in London at 12 Soho Square. “Our main focus has been to respect the history of the brand and archive all artworks and garments,” says joint CEO Janie Schaffer.
The newly revamped collection debuted in Milan during the September 2017 edition of Milan Fashion Week at 10 Corso Como, the only store currently selling the brand in addition to the London flagship. For the same occasion the store also presented the book Fiorucci published by Rizzoli that celebrates the brand’s half century of life. On that exact same night, also inside 10 Corso Como, a movie “Spirito Libero” dedicated to Elio Fiorucci’s creative genius was screened. The designer’s creativity continues to live beyond time and look as modern as ever.
Schaffer underlines how forward-thinking her relaunch project wants to be: “There is so much iconic art from the history of Fiorucci but we felt it was important to ensure that we move the brand forward. For this reason we have brought in a world-class design team that while respecting the brand’s own archive they are constantly looking to the future.”
Schaffer knows that the world is a different place now when compared with the past decades when Fiorucci was hyped internationally in the ’80s: “Obviously in those years there was no Internet, no mobile phones, no websites and no social media. However, the one thing that Millenials today crave is authenticity just as consumers from past decades did back then. Shopping just takes another form today.” And she continues recognizing what similarities tie Gen Z consumers with Fiorucci: “We thought a great deal before buying the brand about whether young consumers of today would love to buy a brand that is now 50 years old, but I think we underestimated how cool the original Fiorucci customers were. The Millennials are seeking out Fiorucci possibly because they are being influenced by very cool people who knew the brand. There has never been a better time for Fiorucci as in many respects Millennials are dressing today the same way the young people dressed back in the ’70s and ’80s.”
Back to Paninari times
Other signs showing a return of iconic brands from the ’80s are the revivals of brands such as Best Company and C.P. Company, both beloved by Paninari, the young wealthy Milanese kids who spent time in the first Italian fast-food restaurants wearing expensive sportswear looks in that era.
Best Company, the iconic sweatshirt brand, was recently revamped by Falis 2014, an Italian company involved in resurrecting other glorious brands from the past such as Fila Tennis and Bear. In August 2017 Falis launched an impressive f/w ’17-18 ad campaign for the Italian market whose face, photographer and author is Oliviero Toscani portrayed together with his son and nephew. The campaign’s tagline is “Forever young.”
“We chose Toscani as he is a strong personality and he can convey the idea how this brand can be worn by everyone. The concept behind this campaign was a gift–his family–and the idea that younger generations can make this brand become successful again,” says Michele Bernardi, managing director at Falis and a longtime insider of the fashion and sportswear markets. “We didn’t want to play with nostalgia, but tell the market that Best Company, a bestseller in the past that still many remember and love, can be as strong again for people of all ages,” he continues. Even before the company could offer a complete total look collection it simply launched a campaign that presented the brand’s redesigned logo and communication strategy. Then it started selling a few down jackets in 150 Italian stores only. The complete collection, including also the iconic sweatshirts, will debut for f/w ’18-19 at Pitti Uomo in January 2018. Communication can create more engagement than the product itself, at an early stage. While older consumer recognized the brand through traditional media, the younger generation’s curiosity was awakened through social media.
C.P. Company versus homologation
Also C.P. Company, another brand most beloved in the ’80s, is back after being acquired by Tristate holding. It is betting on grabbing the young generation’s attention by revamping iconic models such as its Goggle Jacket, though also taking a contemporary and urban lifestyle image. It also started on- and offline communication strategies focused on presenting C.P. Company jackets as indispensable for urban daily life.
“Younger consumers are very different from those of the ’80s,” explains Leo Scordo, newly named general manager, C.P. Company, who previously worked for sportswear brands such as Ermenegildo Zegna’s sportswear division and RH+, an outdoor and sportswear brand. “In the ’80s a branded piece of apparel communicated a status. TV commercials and serials, for instance, defined the belonging or not to specific target groups. Today’s consumers are living less hedonistic and more ‘difficult’ years than in the ’80s,” he says. He continues: “Communication has changed, the speed in taking decisions and common values have changed too. What hasn’t changed, luckily, are people willing to look at the future.”
“Today their lifestyle is much more active. For this reason they care so much for performance and functional aspects in choosing what they wear,” underlines Scordo. “With C.P. Company we want to support their vision, refresh our icons by developing always new products and materials.” C.P. Company’s brand awareness is quite high especially in markets such as Italy, the UK and some areas of Northern Europe. “I think that young consumers don’t think of the ‘old’ C.P. Company. They simply share–in every sense, also through social media like as our #eyesonthecity campaign–trans-seasonal pieces and high-performance fabrics as part of a dress code that doesn’t homologate the identity of the single person,” he explains, drawing an aspect that was common for the ’80s.
Also the French sportswear brand New Man is back. It was founded in in the ’70s and reached success in the ’80s. It is recognized by its geometric logo created by industrial designer Raymond Loewy as it can be equally read upside down. It was recently bought by investment fund Belle Etoile and relaunched for s/s ’18. Its new course started from a main sportswear collection and a colorful agender athleisure capsule collaboration collection by French designer and activist Andrea Crews. “When New Man appeared in the market in the ’70s and ’80s it upset codes bringing colors into menswear,” Corinne David, brand coordinator, New Man, says.
Brands from the late ’70s and ’80s can be successful again because, by keeping their own authenticity capital intact, they can still stir young people’s imaginations. Michel Benchetrit, CEO, New Man, notes: “The young generations want to build a world that suits them best, apart from the industry’s standards and dogmas. They are inventing a new economy making their own rules to create an open and connected society.” Exactly like youth movements from past decades who played with garments to create and express their own style. The first influencers were born in those years. Millennials and Gen Y kids are accidental followers.