Stranger Threads

Helen O'Neill

When it comes to style, the stranger the better. While Topshop has provided the high street with staple jeans, winter furs and glitzy nightwear for years, even they couldn’t escape the buzz that surrounds the cult hit TV show Stranger Things. It appears that the TV T-shirt is now replacing the band T-shirt.

This October, Topshop and Topman teamed up with Netflix ahead of the highly anticipated release of Stranger Things season 2 to release a range of retro designed T-shirts, baseball caps, lunchboxes, backpacks and board games.

The inspiration for the looks, as well as the shows inspiration, came from the classic print T-shirt looks of the 80’s. The collection, which is currently available online, mixes logo T-shirts with authentic 80’s style sweatshirts.

While most of the line puts the logo and the main characters on the front in the iconic red font, some pieces give a subtler nod to the Netflix original series. The blue and white round neck tee, which features both in the men’s and women’s range, simply has the Hawkins school logo on it providing a really cool and wearable piece in the collection if you don’t want to be too out there with your homage to the show.

However, some of the line tends to look repetitive with the same picture of the characters and red logo which in turn makes the more original pieces stand out. The ‘upside down’ slogan tee is the most original and creative designs in the collection. The bright blue and orange within the target symbol is a bold piece that will be sure to get attention.

In the Topman line, the standout piece is the most retro looking of the lot. The Palace arcade T-shirt with an 80’s blue trim around the neck and sleeves looks old-school, picked out of the wardrobe of The Goonies.

For hardcore fans of the show, one shirt in the collection will distinguish you as a true followers. A T-shirt in the Topshop line features a picture of the beloved character of Barb with the caption ‘Never Forget.’ The mix of grey, white and pinks in the print gives the shirt a soft look which works well with the homage to Barb.

For a serious throwback vibe, the line also provides old school metal lunch boxes featuring the shows promotion pictures as well as backpacks with the logos. The most expensive item in the collection at £35 is a Stranger Things Monopoly board. The game is a unique gem in the collection, featuring places like Hawkins School, the Byers House and the Upside Down up for purchase.

The line is currently only available in the UK and online. Lucky fans got the real experience for two weeks at the end of October when the Oxford Circus store was transformed into the world of Stranger Things complete with Will’s hideaway, the arcade and Joyce Buyers’ light up wall.

Prices for the collection are very reasonable, with all T-shirts priced at £20 and sweatshirts £32. However, the popularity of this line has meant that most of the products are currently out of stock. That’s right, every piece of clothing, along with most of the paraphernalia, is no longer in stock on their site, showing the huge fandom of Stranger Things.

But with the rise in the fan base, other designers are creating original merchandise. Irish designer Megan Rushe from Malahide created a Stranger Things print to go on sweaters long before the Topshop launch.

Rushe sells T-shirts, sweaters and raincoats with customised prints on them which can be requested on her Instagram page, meganrusheprints. Rushe said she was approached by a friend to design a Stranger Things print jumper and after sketching a few designs, featured the sweater on her page.

The talented designs too have the red logo along with sketch drawings of the characters. While they are pricier than the Topshop range with T-shirts from €30 and sweaters from €50, the freedom of customising makes up for the extra cost.

With the following for the Netflix show constantly rising, the inspiration for fashion designers appears to be growing with it; and it’s not just the high-street jumping on board. For Louis Vuitton’s autumn/winter collection, the designer featured a Stranger Things logo T-shirt on the runway teamed with their more on-brand flowery blouse, showing the true power of the world of the upside down.

The stylists for Topshop’s collection also do things a bit ‘strange’. Instead of usually pairing the item you are selling with plain, simple clothing, Topshop took an alternative route much like the series. The tees and sweaters are paired with sheer metallic tops underneath, tight polos and leather pants, giving an elevated look to the collection.

Whether you watch or not, designers are seriously buying into the cult following of Stranger Things. From Topshop’s hugely popular collection, to lesser known Irish designs, there is no escaping the eccentric 80’s nostalgia this series is bringing to fashion.

Helen O’Neill

Image Credit: Megan Rushe Prints