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What Fashion Trends Did "Miami Vice" Make Popular?

It's considered one of the most influential television series ever made. So many concepts from the Emmy award-winning crime story have been integrated into our current tastes.

What Fashion Trends Did "Miami Vice" Make Popular?

JAMES "SONNY" CROCKETT

Detective Sergeant Sonny Crockett was an officer with the Metro-Dade Police Department. He worked undercover in the Organized Crime Bureau, Vice division. In one of the first episodes, "Brother's Keeper," Crockett was portrayed as an aloof and laid-back character. Made famous by Don Johnson, Crockett had a unique appearance that set the fashion world on fire. Known for having blonde hair and a suntan, his famous loose-fitting suit over a T-shirt, paired with loafers or boat shoes became an instant trend in the 80s and early 1990s. And that was just from the first season. Harsh neons from season 3 were extremely influential, although it didn't enjoy the timeless pastels that have become heavily ingrained in fashion today.

During the first 2 seasons of the tv show, Crockett's suits and shirts were tailored with shades of pink and blue, slowly moving to dark neons in the 3rd season. Don Johnson originally wanted Crockett to dress like an urban cowboy. But after arriving in Miami, the contact heat and humidity changed his mind. He took on Executive Producer Michael Mann's ideas of a pastel linen suit.

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Don Johnson's "designer stubble" was copied by men across America. It even led to the marketing of a face razor called the "Miami Device" that would leave a short layer of stubble. Brands like After Six created "Miami Vice" dinner jackets, Kenneth Cole created Crockett and Rico Tubb's shoes, and Macy's even opened a dedicated "Miami Vice" section for young men.

It didn't stop there. Guest stars like Bruce Willis would join the show for a few episodes dawning similar looks. Crockett would wear Ray-Ban Wayfarer glasses that would popularize the brand. It nearly quadrupled the sales of Wayfarers. Sonny Crockett's fashion was inspired by John Taylor of Duran Duran, who in the video "Hungry Like the Wolf," is seen wearing a white sport coat and slacks with no shirt and slip-on shoes. Michael Mann and Dick Wolf also said that the pastel colors from the show were influenced by a trip to the paint store many years before the show's debut. Mann had taken a vacation to South Beach and played around with a few colors before coming up with the theme.

RICARDO "RICO" TUBBS

Played by Philip Michael Thomas, Tubbs was the partner of Detective Sergeant Crockett. They would ride in Crockett's Ferrari together... with Tubbs carrying a similar style. Because Ricardo Tubbs suffered storylines of constant tragedy, even though his character was stylish, his outfits didn't catch fire like Crockett's. But Tubbs' outfits took Italian men's fashion and spread it to America. Sales of unconstructed blazers, shiny fabrics, and lighter colors went up massively. Philip Michael Thomas didn't experience the fame of Don Johnson's character in the show. It explains why Sonny Crockett was such a massive character from the get-go.

Less prominent characters, like Detective Stan Switek (played by Michael Talbott) also sported pastel and unique looks. But on the polar opposite, Martin Castillo (the department's police chief) would offset the show’s designer fashions. Played by Edward James Olmos, the character would remain simple, with inexpensive black suits and skinny ties. It was his standard outfit throughout the show.

LASTING EFFECTS

Miami Vice didn't just have an impact on fashion. It completely changed tourism in South Florida. Before the television show premiered, Miami and Miami Beach were not the destinations they are today. The tv show played an important part in rehabbing the city's infrastructure and reputation.

Dubbed the "Vice Effect," the show led to protections for the city's art and buildings. Michael Mann was adamant that earth tones couldn't be visible in the background shots of the show. So the production team would be tasked with fixing historic buildings, reworking boring tones with pink, blue, and other famous pastels from the show. Changing Miami forever.

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March 28, 2022

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