Unless you've finished season three of Netflix's Stranger Things, stop reading. Spoilers follow for those that have fallen behind.
Still with us? Okay, great.
When season four of Netflix's second most popular show ever starts on May 27th, most of the cast will be in a fictional California city called Lenora Hills. It's a stark departure from the show's original locale, a modest (also fictional) Midwestern town called Hawkins, Indiana. Plus, the show has moved forward a few years: It was November 1983 when the show started, and now it's 1986. As such, much has changed. The cast has gotten older, the soundtrack is livelier and the costumes are, well, different — especially since they moved west.
Three years ago, Stranger Things producers — namely, costume director Amy Parris — began compiling looks for season four with the knowledge that the show's period and place would change. She thought about California in the '80s. An unexpected brand, at least for those under 30, came to mind: Quiksilver.
"Quiksilver was an integral part of California fashion in the 1980s. The show is so true to the period that it only made sense to infuse Quiksilver archive pieces through the show this season," she says. "Together, Quiksilver and I worked meticulously to make sure the fit, fabric and feel of each garment was both true to the period and akin to the characters’ closets.
"What we achieved for a TV timeline was impressive, and it's exciting to get to share the garments with the audience...I hope the clothes will resonate with a younger audience who is inspired by the fashion back then and be a friendly reminder to the stylish viewers who followed fashion in the ’80s."
For this project, Parris worked with Quiksilver's global director of merchandising, design and development, Andrew Henry. He offered her access to Quiksilver's archive, where they have pieces from the exact period the show's set in. From this collection, Parris could pick which pieces Quiksilver would remake for the show, which pieces they'd use as inspiration for other pieces and which would make it into their collaborative collections for consumers, which release in conjunction with the season premiere.
Quiksilver was a natural partner, not only because of the brand's popularity during this period, but because the brand shared the show's darker undertone. Sure, nowadays surfers seem like they're part of a lax, laid-back brotherhood filled with loose-haired, sun-tanned characters, but the community wasn't always that close. It was competitive, Henry says.
"Quiksilver's got a very a happy '80s story, but also a very dark story, so we synced really well," he says. "In the '80s, there was a lot of competition. There's a dark side to any action sports industry — whether it's the music, the attitude, the ownership of waves. Back in the day, surfers were rebels, but thankfully today it's much more inclusive. There was really this attitude of 'If you can't rock' n' roll, don't fucking come.' That was literally the advert in '86."
The dichotomy suits the show well, which boldly features two planes of existence: real life, where most of the show takes place, and The Upside Down, the alternate dimension where the darkness lies. Quiksilver could play off this concept because it lived it through its clothing, too.
"In the archive," he says, "we were able to find pieces from '86 that actually sat in this happy, bright, pastel, happiness type of thing, but there's a part of the collection that was really dark, with blacks and reds, and it was a really nice fit."
What it is exactly each character will wear throughout this season understandably remains under wraps — at least for you, the audience — but Henry says Parris and the Duffer Brothers, the show's creators, "really captured the vibe of that '86-87 period." But his team deserves part of the credit, too, because they were a willing collaborator. Henry's team worked closely with Parris' to provide one-off samples, alterations as needed and general feedback about the rest of the wardrobe, because it isn't all Quiksilver, he admits.
"The two teams collaborated so closely that Amy [Parris] and my designers and tech designer are friends now," he says. "They're in contact and sharing ideas." It's fitting that a show about friendship — plus the supernatural, government secrets and science experiments — would forge a few along the way.
The first part of the Quilksilver x Stranger Things collaboration, 1986, is out now. The rest of the collections — Character Wardrobe, pieces the cast will actually wear, Surfer Boy Pizza, merch for a pizza shop in the show, Lenora Hills Surf Club, designs inspired by this new fictional town and Hellfire Surf Club, a nod to The Upside Down — will drop when the first episode does, which is May 27th.