What Fashion Trends Did “Miami Vice” Help Make Popular?

Miami Vice chronicled the exploits of two narcotic detectives in the height of 80’s Miami. We were as far removed from the glamourous lifestyle the show portrayed in our Connecticut town as a community possibly could. However, the vastly different way of life between that of the show and our rustic farm hamlet didn’t stop us from fervently trying to copy the iconic style of Crocket and Tubbs. We donned the Ray-Bans, pastel-colored polos, and adopted a strict no socks policy. Some guys ventured as far as the monochromatic linen pant-suit on date nights—much to their girlfriend’s delight.

Fashion Trends: Just Like Crockett and Tubbs

Like any good classic, an event occurs to spur our interest again in a TV show, like a reboot, movie release, or video game creation. In the case of the present, a perfect storm of the pandemic and endless streaming abilities brought the original Miami Vice series back into our purview and, with it, interest in the fashion trends the show made wildly popular. 

Here’s a breakdown of three fashion trends inspired by the ’80’s hit television show:

1. The Linen Pant-Suit

Don Johnson starred as Sonny Crockett, who made the monochromatic linen pants suits paired with a casual t-shirt, a popular trend. Quite a few sources list the threads as being made by Armani. In Hollywood, the linen suit has a long lineage. Robert Redford’s pink linen suit that Leonardo Dicaprio brought into present-day fame on the remake of The Great Gatsby proves that linen stands up to the test of time.  

However, we first started producing linen, a versatile yet breathable fabric made from flax plant fibers, as long ago as 36,000 years. The fabric’s porous weave fosters moisture absorption, making it ideal for the Miami Vice set’s hot, humid days and nights. The drawback was that linen wrinkles. OK, if you’re on a movie set and have a wardrobe team to press your suit between takes. Not good if you’re wearing a linen suit to an interview after a long commute. A man shouldn’t take the practicality of a linen suit out of context. This fashion statement is best for casual situations where a few wrinkles are socially acceptable and actually en vogue, like an outdoor party or afternoon brunch by the beach.

2. The Shades

Ray-Ban RB2140 Original Wayfarers are the shades, produced initially by Bausch and Lomb, that Detective James “Sonny” Crockett sported in Miami Vice. However, some avid fans say the Persol Ratti Meflecto 69218 Sunglasses made in Torino, Italy, from the original factory of Guiseppe Ratti were the ones worn by Crockett and Tubbs. Whichever glasses made it on the air, both remain classic wardrobe staples to this day because of their durability, versatility, and classic styling. 

Ray-Ban didn’t nearly maintain the same market share they do today; the brand itself was at death’s door. But, according to different content, I read on the show and the makers of the sunglasses, ipso facto, Miami Vice played a vital part in resurrecting the brand.

3. The Loafers (sans the socks)

According to a Miami Vice fan forum, Crockett’s shoes were made exclusively for the show by footwear brands Sperry, Charles Jourdan, and To Boot. All part and parcel of the show’s $7,000 wardrobe budget for each episode. The most iconic of the detective’s fancy footwear was the loafer-espadrille style. Espadrilles, worn since the 14th century in Catalonia and the Basque Country, Spain, are still made by local craftsmen. Also used as footwear for the King of Aragon’s foot soldiers, the shoe is durable and breathable. The name espadrille, derived from the Spanish word esparto, was after the tough, wiry grass made into the rope that creates the shoe’s sole. The woven rope soles are lightweight, eco-friendly, and versatile, all attributes appealing to today’s fashion trendsetters.