It was 1988.
Bob Truax and Dan Stock owned a gym in Roseville, Minnesota that was popular among bodybuilders. The problem? Back then a beefy body builder didn't really have a comfortable workout pant that was versatile enough to expand on their thick hunky man thighs while working out and remaining comfortable. There wasn't much on the market for the big and tall. So, they began brainstorming a new kind of pant with the heavy-lifter in mind.
Their first run was a simple pair of shorts, baggy with an elastic stretch machine (string) built inside. They sold them through word of mouth at the gym and the idea began to catch on. Their body-building super freaks were becoming hooked on the roomier swag pants, they called 'Zubaz'.
It was a play off the catch phrase zooba, a popular slang term back in the day for something awesome, loud, and in your face. What better way to tie in with the brand name then to make some obnoxious zebra print pants that screamed for attention. In your face they were as they slowly became a pop culture phenomenon. A breakthrough was happening before their eyes when their co-gym owners who just so happened to be WWE Hall of Famers, the Road Warriors started rockin' them in the ring. Quite frankly it fit well with their mean mantra of spiked shoulder pads and face paint. This was some serious next level shit.
Before they knew it, Zubaz were popping up all over the place and when it caught the eye of a JC Penney store owner, the market exploded. Bob and Dan had a million dollar baby sitting in their hands and it wasn't before long that athletes of all sorts were seen sportin' the hideous yet unimaginably unique Zubaz pants. The slogan, Dare to be different became their aphorism for good reason.
NFL Quarterbacks like Dan Marino, John Elway, and Troy Aikman, legends of the game were endorsing the brand. Everybody wanted a pair of Zubaz. Even the hottest supermodel in the world at the time Claudia Schiffer did a set of ads for the brand. In 1991 they linked up with Pro-Line Portraits to feature their pants in an NFL trading card set, which is still to this day one of my favorites of all-time. It was the hit of an era in sports that will never be duplicated as well as possibly the worst fad or freshest depending on who you are of the 20th Century. So what happened?
It was said that at one point Bob and Dan were producing over 50,000 pairs in a week span, now that's some serious hay. However, with that much enterprise going on for a relatively small business, it became nearly impossible to keep up. They were slowly reaching the category of growing too big, too fast. After reaching out for financial help and slowly losing control of their skin in the game, the men sold their share in the company in the mid 90s. The company would go belly-up in 1996, but it allowed Bob and Dan to buy back their shares.
Even with this incredible fad being formed under the Zubaz name, there was apparent backlash especially among the female population. Many people referred to them as the lazy man's pant. If you wore them there was a certain perception that came with it unless you were in the limelight. That's all personal opinion though as the pants have slowly made a comeback over the last few years.
After reacquiring the trademark, Bob Truax and Dan Stock sought a comeback in 2007, marketing the apparel to young males with a sense of nostalgia. They're going for that retro appeal. While we don't expect to see Zubaz being at the forefront of american culture again anytime soon, they are still a timeless classic in our book great for gameday and well, being lazy in your own lap of luxury.
Throughout the early 90s Truax and Stock sold over 10 million pairs of pants hitting 160 million in sales. Regardless of the negative feedback, there is more than plenty of love for the pants they called Zubaz. Dan says, "We've been hearing it for years to bring them back." So thankfully, they have. We love them so much that you can now find Zubaz patrolling the easy interface that is our web shop. We're staying with the local flavor right now with Navy Blue/Red, Red/Gold, and Black/Fluorescent Purple colorways, but of course as a growing brand we're always open to suggestions.
Want to dig further into the Zubaz archives? Here are a couple links that you may enjoy:
Keep the Zubaz dream alive and embrace the awesomeness!