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Dressed to Impress: Footwear and Consumerism in the 1980s

Start Date 01 November 2023
End Date 16 March 2025
Venue Bata Shoe Museum
Location Toronto, Canada
Curator Nishi Bassi
A gallery display with the phrase 'Pump It Up' in 80s-style font

“The 1980s was a fascinating decade, where personal style was closely linked to the pursuit of success,” says Nishi Bassi, Curator and Exhibitions Manager at Bata Shoe Museum. “This exhibition explores some of the biggest trends and brands of the decade, and how advertising encouraged consumption. Visitors are invited to come to the exhibition to experience joyful nostalgia but also to think critically about how this decade continues to influence our consumer habits of today.”

Culturally, the 1980s were defined by conservative politics, globalization, and technological innovation. Self-improvement and the pursuit of individual success were strongly encouraged, and fashion was promoted as a way to both achieve and flaunt a successful career, a desirable body, and an enviable lifestyle. Shopping malls and mail-order catalogues, as well as advertisements in film, television, and music videos, encouraged materialism and fed a generation of consumers who were dressing to impress.

The Bata Shoe Museum will transform the gallery space into a 1980s-inspired shopping mall, taking visitors back in time to experience the full effect of the decade.