2019 marks an amazing 40 years of Manchester Arndale. Bringing the biggest brands together under one roof, the centre has always been the city’s top destination for the latest trends, but it’s safe to say the fashion world has changed a lot since opening day.
From funky flares to popper pants, let’s flash back to the last few decades, and break down the iconic styles that defined them:
Hot off the back of the Swinging Sixties, 70s fashion was still big on self-expression, with influences coming from the peace-and-love lifestyle of the last decade, as well as the disco/funk/soul music scene. Most 70s kids fit into one of two key camps: mods or hippies. The mods got their kicks from bright colours and striking patterns, with the hippies going for more neutral, earthy tones.
Whichever camp you sat in, flares were a strong 70s style, with bands like the Bee Gees (who grew up in Chorlton, if you didn’t know!) showing the world how to make them look good. As versatile as they were eye-catching, you could find flares in all kinds of materials, with denim and corduroy being some of the most common.
As the 80s drew close, the lines between looks began to blur, with paisley prints, leather jackets and fringe-covered suede numbers finding their way into most people’s wardrobes. One thing that did stay constant, though, was the variety of huge hairstyles on display, with perms and Farrah Fawcett-style locks being popular throughout the decade.
Madonna, Miami Vice and Back To The Future: the 80s saw an explosion of pop culture classics that influenced fashion, makeup and hairstyles across the globe.
For guys, rock and punk were on the rise, with bands like Guns N’ Roses and Sex Pistols bringing combat boots, denim jackets and shredded jeans to the forefront. Transported from the track to the streets, sportswear also saw a big boost in sales thanks to rap groups like Run DMC, who turned tracksuits and trainers into an everyday outfit. And if dressing like your favourite musicians just wasn’t enough, a graphic band tee up top was the way to go.
Girls looks were even more out-there. Big hair, electric eyeshadow and pink blush went hand-in-hand with blazers, tailored jumpsuits and bleached denim jackets. For anyone looking to make an impression, power suits were the perfect combination of fierce and formal, with their padded shoulders going down as one of the most iconic elements of 1980s style. But it wasn’t all about business. When something a little more casual was on the cards, neons, animal prints and workout-wear were most women’s go-to getups.
When the 90s rolled in, everything changed. By this point, there were so many fashion subcultures it was almost difficult to keep track of. Bands like Nirvana brought in an era of flannel shirts, skinny jeans and Converse All Stars. The rise of The Spice Girls saw space buns and Kappa popper pants skyrocket. Oasis made football casuals cool all over the world.
One major 90s fashion trend (that us Mancs are all too familiar with) was the bucket hat. Back when the Madchester scene was in full swing, the popularity of The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays saw the ‘baggy’ streetwear craze blow up, with anyone that listened to them buying their own floppy-brimmed hat. While they might not be quite as big of a deal today, they refuse to disappear, coming back into the spotlight recently thanks to the hip-hop crowd.
Taking inspiration from everything that came before, the looks we see today have some serious 80s/90s vibes. Especially when it comes to streetwear, vintage brands are on the up, with old school sports labels like Fila and Champion bringing a retro touch to the athleisure trend. If you’re feeling this sharp but laid-back look, size? Urban Outfitters and JD Sports are some great Arndale stores to start at.
For something a little more smart, guys can’t go wrong with a classic fitted suit from H&M or TopMan. Matching a darker blazer with a statement shirt adds a burst of colour that brings it all together. Animal print dresses are a strong choice for the ladies, as well as patterned jumpsuits. TopShop and River Island are top picks for those.
When Autumn rolls around, it’s time to get layering. Camo prints are still in style, best matched with earthy/neutral pieces. A sweatshirt under a lightweight trench coat is a good transitional look for guys, while denim jackets are back in a big way for the girls.