Every so often, a trend will take off with a force so powerful that consumer demand drives manufacturers to rush knockoffs into production, like how every person wore a "Thriller" jacket in 1983, no matter how ridiculous they looked.
Hollywood has always had a hand in shaping popular culture and taste, so it should come as no surprise that its influence on the fashion decisions people have made throughout history has been enormous. But with so much pop culture to consume and content being churned out at such a fast pace these days, it's doubtful these super trends will ever have as much sway as they did in the past. Unfortunately, that means we'll probably never again experience moments like when ...
#6. Tom Cruise Almost Single-Handedly Kept Ray-Ban in Business
Back before he became a full-time shill for the world's most annoying cult, Tom Cruise was known more for his bankability as a movie star than his relationship with Xenu. His very first leading role as the privileged high school kid with an overabundance of First World problems in the hit teen comedy-drama Risky Business not only launched a 21-year-old Cruise into superstardom, but kept one of history's most iconic fashion brands from dying off.
And gave lazy teens an easy Halloween costume for the rest of the decade.
In the film, Joel (Cruise) is super stressed about getting into his college of choice, but also overwhelmed by the newfound freedom of being left home with no parental supervision. Dilemmas ranging from "Should he drive his dad's Porsche?" to "Should he turn his home into a temporary whorehouse?" arise, and Joel deals with every single one in the exact same way: By doing adorable things while wearing Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses.
He most famously puts them on right before uttering the film's catchphrase (and the '80s version of YOLO), "Sometimes you gotta say what the fuck." That he dons those particular shades at that moment is no happy accident.
In the 1980s, sales of Ray-Ban's Wayfarer sunglasses had sunk to an abysmal 18,000 a year. In an effort to turn things around, the company offered the producers of Risky Business $50,000 to feature the Wayfarer model in the teen comedy and, just as importantly, on the movie poster.
Sales of Wayfarers immediately took off. By 1989, Ray-Ban had sold more than 4 million pairs of the now-iconic model, a pretty sweet return on their investment. But the Cruise promotional juggernaut had just gotten started.
Three years after Risky Business, Ray-Ban and Cruise struck product-placement gold again when he and Val Kilmer battled it out for king douche of the sky and the sand in the box office hit/Navy recruitment propaganda film Top Gun. Cruise, Kilmer, and co-star Anthony Edwards all sported Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses in the movie.
"The Top Gun rules of fashion are for your style and for that of your team. They are not flexible, nor am I."
Once again, the partnership was a resounding success. Sales of Ray-Ban Aviators rose 40 percent in the seven months following the release of the film. To this day, they remain the eyewear of choice for anyone looking to inject a little "Hot Cop" flair into their wardrobe.
#5. Flashdance Made Everyone Want Collarless Sweatshirts
Acid-wash jeans, parachute pants, leg warmers -- the '80s were chock-full of WTF fashion, and the collarless sweatshirt borne of the summer blockbuster Flashdance was no exception. Flashdance follows the story of Alex (Jennifer Beals), a young woman who spends her days working as a welder in a Pittsburgh steel mill and her evenings underneath the dance shower at her local dive bar performing elaborately choreographed routines, just like you'd see at your favorite blue-collar watering hole.
In one of the film's most memorable scenes, Alex carries on a conversation with a male suitor while reaching inside a ridiculously loose-fitting sweatshirt to remove her bra.
The sexy off-the-shoulder style apparently resonated with the masses, because the "ripped apart and ready to dance" casualwear look has been with us in one form or another ever since.
Interestingly enough, it all happened by accident. The gray sweatshirt, which Beals had brought from home, shrank in the dryer, so she cut out the neckband to make it fit more easily over her head.
That's not nearly as interesting as the story of how Beals landed her breakthrough role: According to Hollywood legend, executives at Paramount Pictures wanted to cast an unknown. After a nationwide search, producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson and director Adrian Lyne had narrowed it down to three actresses: Demi Moore, Leslie Wing, and Jennifer Beals. Unable to decide, Simpson reportedly showed pictures of all three women to a group of teamsters on the studio lot and (in a move that most likely wouldn't pass HR muster today) asked them "Which of these women do you most want to fuck?"
MJ Kim/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
This method was last used when Maggie Smith beat out Judi Dench for Downton Abbey.
Flashdance became one of the highest grossing films of 1983, leaving a pile of torn sweatshirt collars in its wake.
#4. Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier Stole Coonskin Caps from the Indians
Walt Disney, famed animator and communist hunter, was one of the greatest marketing geniuses and revisionist historians of all time. So it's no surprise that when Disney decided to open an amusement park in the '50s, he used these skills to great effect. Disneyland was a huge success, and the effort ultimately resulted in one of the biggest (and stupidest) fashion fads of the 20th century.
At the time of the project, Disney was low on cash, so he struck a deal with fledgling television network ABC. In exchange for financially backing the new park, ABC execs were given the rights to Disney's first weekly television series.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
"How about something with a kooky pirate?"
"Eh, no one's gonna watch that shit."
Because national pride moved lots of units during the Cold War, Walt and company wanted an all-American historical hero to kick off the first season. They found one in Davy Crockett, the Tennessee congressman who died at the Battle of the Alamo.
Predictably enough, Davy Crockett: Indian Fighter was wildly popular.
As they always do when they have a hit on their hands, Disney marketed the hell out of every piece of Davy Crockett merchandise possible. One item in particular, the coonskin cap worn by actor Fess Parker, surpassed all others. Although it originated with Native Americans, thanks to the magic of Disney marketing the coonskin cap now belonged to a newly minted legion of armchair "Indian Fighters."
Fortunately, the replica smallpox comforter set never made it out of marketing.
If your grandparents had the foresight to invest in raccoon hide at the show's inception, your family is probably still living off the resulting financial windfall. At the height of the show's popularity, an estimated 5,000 coonskin caps were sold each day, driving the price of raccoon fur from 25 cents a pound all the way up to $8.