Fashion & DesignThe Bata Shoe Museum opens 80s footwear exhibit

The Bata Shoe Museum opens 80s footwear exhibit

The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto is capturing the essence of the 80s with its latest exhibition, “Dressed to Impress: Footwear and Consumerism in the 1980s”, opening today and running until March 16, 2025. 


Photo by Ryan Emberley (@ryanemberley) and Kennedy Pollard (@kennedypollard_).


The 80s. Consumerism thrived as politics, media and globalization encouraged materialism as an outlet to flaunt success and an enviable lifestyle. Movies, television shows and advertisements further fed the hunger for individuality and self expression, leaving a colourful trail of footwear. This Bata Shoe Museum exhibit features some of the most popular brands and styles of the time, celebrating the saturated hues and bold shapes that defined the era. From Reebok Pumps to Gucci loafers, the 80s were stepped into with purpose and style. 


Bally pumps, 1980-89.


Designed with bright red and green linework, these Bally pumps portray the individuality and self expression of the 80s. The Bally brand lives on today with a wide array of modern pump styles.


Tokio Kumangai pumps, 1980-83.


Tokio Kumagai shows took statement pumps a step further. The brand’s circular cutouts added a post-modern edge with geometric shapes.


Thierry Mugler Apollo Jelly Shoes, 1985.


From colour pops and cut-outs to material statements, the Thierry Mugler Apollo Jelly Shoes started the memorable PVC jelly shoe craze which ran way into the 90s.


Gucci horsebit loafers, 1980-89.


The Gucci horsebit loafer embodies a chic and polished energy. Popular among executives and other financial career positions, these shoes meant business and never truly left the fashion scene.


PONY sneakers, 1989.


A street style favourite was the American PONY Sneaker. These chunky high tops with pops of colour added a sporty status to everyday ‘fits and the influence is evident today.


Nike Air Jordan 1s, 1985.


Another iconic high top was the Nike Air Jordan 1s. The first Air Jordan, produced in 1985, marked a major shift in the sneaker industry, taking Nike out of Adidas’ shadow for athletes and streetwear fans. 


L.A. Gear sneakers from the 80s.


L.A. Gear thrived in the 80s with its embrace of Los Angeles culture. The sneakers went against the tide of glamour, adhering to Los Angeles and its love for casual fashion. Though L.A. Gear fell behind other sneaker brands, it was all part of the consumerism made big by the 80s and admired today. 


It’s not hard to see the 80s influence in contemporary footwear. Despite some fads being left behind (thankfully), signature styles from the likes of Gucci, Nike and Reebok live on today and continue to inspire new generations. 


Enjoyed reading about this exhibit? Take a look back at “Celebrate nature’s influence on fashion with Bata Shoe Museum’s In Bloom Exhibit”.



Stephanie Beattie is a Glossi Mag contributor.


In her final year of journalism school at Toronto Metropolitan University, Stephanie loves painting, Bob Dylan and caramel lattes.

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