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What are Zubaz?

Zubaz are a brand of casual pants that became a fashion phenomenon in the early 1990s. Known for their outlandish zebra-striped pattern and baggy fit, they were originally designed for comfort and mobility, catering to the bodybuilding community. The name "Zubaz" is a play on the word 'bazoo,' which means 'mouth' or 'boastful talk,' reflecting the bold statement made by wearing them. Over time, Zubaz expanded their appeal to a wider audience, becoming a popular choice for anyone embracing the vibrant, often neon, aesthetic of the era. They were particularly favored for their elastic waistbands and roomy cut, which provided an unparalleled level of comfort.

Despite their initial surge in popularity, Zubaz pants saw a decline as fashion trends shifted. However, they've experienced a resurgence in recent years, tapping into the nostalgia for vintage '90s apparel. According to the Zubaz official website, the brand has diversified its patterns and products while maintaining the iconic roomy fit. Today, they offer a variety of designs, including sports team logos and other patterns, appealing to fans who want to make a bold statement at sporting events or in casual settings. This comeback highlights the cyclical nature of fashion, where yesterday's trends often find new life in the wardrobes of tomorrow.

Marilee Reyes
Marilee Reyes

Zubaz are a kind of pant that flared onto the pop scene in the early 1990s. They were one of those fad fashions dearly loved by the wearer and frequently dreaded by others. Zubaz featured baggy legs pegged at the ankle, and were available in a selection of flashy colors in addition to the traditional black and white zebra stripes.

The official pronunciation is “zoo-buzz." A shortened version, “zuba,” came to mean “in your face" — a bow to the fact that the fabric was brightly colored and featured large and loud prints. The pegged-leg shape and elastic waistband that was designed to allow for maximum movement also is said to emphasized the male figure.

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Woman shopping

Zubaz were created by two bodybuilders, Dan Stock and Bob Truax, as a functional short designed for weightlifters. The goal was to create a pair of shorts that would stretch and flex with the body during a workout. The line quickly expanded to become a long pant that left the weight room and began to roam the streets of New York, Chicago and many other American cities and suburbs. In part, the popularity of the Zubaz pant was stimulated by the fact that pro-athletes, and frequently whole sports teams, began wearing them. Things really took off when NFL quarterbacks such as Dan Marino, John Elway and Troy Aikman showed up in public sporting the bright stripes. The company is reported to have sold $100 million US Dollars (USD) in products in 1991 alone.

Targeted for male athletes, sports logos began cropping up on Zubaz products and it didn‘t take long for sports fans, men and women alike, who wanted to identify with their favorite team to pick up on the style. However, like all clothing fads, the wild pants were everywhere for a few years, and then faded from the fashion scene. But like many styles, the retro bug may have brought the trend back. Stock and Truax apparently have tested the waters and deduced that the world is ready, once again, for a Zubaz invasion.

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