Showing posts with label Fashion Fads. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fashion Fads. Show all posts

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Guest blog: Umbro Shorts

Welcome back to our exciting series of Children of the 90s guest blogs! We have several pieces in the works and we are still reviewing applications, so if you are interested in contributing to Children of the 90s, shoot us an email to!

I was so excited when one of my very favorite bloggers contacted me wanting to write a guest post for Children of the 90s. For those of you who don't know Sha
nnon, she is an extremely dedicated fellow 90s enthusiast whose primary focus is a laserlike focus on the Sweet Valley series in her Sweet Valley High blog.

Long-time readers may also recognize Shannon from her contr
ibution to last year's Glamour Shot Challenge. In case you missed it, here's one of her awesome airbrushed photos from her mall session circa mid-90s:

A little about Shannon, from the SVH guru herself:

When I’m not sitting around feeling regretful about my childhood fashion choices and my forays into Glamour Shots modeling, I spend entirely too much of my free time reading and blogging about Sweet Valley books. You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.

Be sure to check out Shannon's blog and to follow her for tons of 90s goodness. Shannon chose to wrote about a subject near and dear to many of our nostalgic hearts: Umbro shorts. Oh, the shininess.


Long ago and far away (the 1920s in England), Harold and Wallace Humphreys decided they were sick and tired of their football (and by that I mean soccer) teams looking so shabby on the field. They wanted to dress the sporting world in shiny nylon, so they started Humphreys Brothers Clothing, a name that later got shortened to Umbro. Many years passed during which Umbro outfitted England’s soccer teams, but the rest of the world didn’t care much about it. Then Americans started to play soccer, and we were delighted to learn there was already a clothing line dedicated to our favorite new pastime. In 1992, Umbro was acquired by a South Carolina company called Stone Manufacturing, and we quickly Americanized everything about it.

Umbros were super boring when we got hold of them, but we had a fierce love of neon back in the 90s – probably the last death throes of the 80s getting out of our system. So it was no surprise that those unassuming soccer shorts were soon being produced in all manner of fantastic colors. Even the logo got a splashy new look. Suddenly, Umbros were the Next Big Thing and every school age kid had to have a pair. Finally, I had something to wear with my oversized neon t-shirts!

I don’t know why my friend is holding me like a baby, but check out our Umbros!

Over the next few years, one couldn’t swing a dead cat in a school hallway without hitting at least five kids wearing Umbros. The more athletic kids – the ones who actually played soccer and had probably been wearing Umbro-like shorts for years – generally stuck to the checkerboard/solid color style. The rest of us felt no such compunction and we wore all the new and exciting designs available to us. As long as our shorts had that double diamond logo on them somewhere, we could be confident in our coolness. As has been pointed out before on this blog, there has never been a more brand-name conscious decade than the 90s. Of course, as with any other fashion trend, there were generic knockoffs to be had. These impostor Umbros were easier on our parents’ wallets, but we were pretty sure nobody would like us if we wore them.

A popular design for the serious athlete.

There were a couple of problems Umbro-wearers faced. One was that if it rained, your super awesome hot pink Umbros had a tendency to become transparent and give everyone a good look at your Power Rangers underwear. A bigger problem was that if you did anything athletic, or even if you sat down wrong, you ran the risk of showing off your undies in a more direct way. Umbros, being rather loose and made of a lightweight material, tended to ride up and give the world a pretty good view of things best left unseen. It was for this reason that some of us, myself included, took to wearing biker shorts under our Umbros.

This fellow could use some biker shorts.

These problems aside, the Umbro brand enjoyed a good few years of popularity here in the States. However, we have awfully short attention spans, and Umbro shorts soon gave way to No Fear and flannel shirts. Umbro didn’t care, though. They just went back to doing what they’d always done: creating sportswear for soccer teams. Umbro became part of the Nike family in 2008, and they’re more financially stable than ever. You can still find 90s style Umbros if you’re feeling nostalgic, and you might even be able to make some money if you happen to have any still taking up space in your closet. For instance, the gentleman below sold his pair on Etsy last June.

Don’t you want to be that cool again?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Guest Post: Tear-Away Pants

Welcome to another installment in this series of Children of the 90s guest blogs! We have several pieces in the works and we are still reviewing applications, so if you are interested in contributing to Children of the 90s, shoot us an email to!

Let's all welcome guest blogger Laura of The Butterfly Collector blog. A little about Laura, in her own words:

I’m Laura and I like the smell of bread. Due to possible over-exposure to all things pop-culture throughout my years, I tend to have a dry sense of humour that has the synapses of my mind tying various thoughts together in strange ways. I live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and love my city. My blog is mostly about my adventures in life as I try to experience as much as I can. I am addicted to twitter (@lowqis) so if you want to see what I am up to, catch me there!

Be sure to check out Laura's blog and follow her on twitter to see more of her amusing musings! Here, she writes about some of the least functional but most poplar athletic wear trends of the 90s: tear-away pants. Take it away, Laura:

Tear-Away Pants

This weekend I ran the Ronald McDonald House “Rock the House Run.” My first 5k since the 90s (when I joined the high school running team to meet a boy I had an unrequited crush on). But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about Ronald McDonald wearing some wicked “tear-aways” in his traditional colours.

Ronald McDonald and me after the 5k

Remember these awesome pants?

Image from

Not only could you rock the Adidas trend, but also do it in such a way that at any moment a wardrobe malfunction could happen that as a teenager could lead to years of lying on a couch, dealing with the esteem issues that such embarrassment might have caused. OR, it could prepare our young selves for the biggest fitness craze to hit the new millennium – strippercize!

When I saw Ronald rocking his sweet tear-aways, I was brought back to my youth --when all I wanted was to own anything Adidas, the ultimate way to be one with my peers. Tear-aways were pretty high on my wish list. I liked the idea of only tearing them away up to my knee (or a little bit higher depending on how scandalous I felt – anything to garner the attention of my crush of the week!). I liked the idea that if it were to get too hot, I could rip them off and continue about my business. I also liked the idea (even if its not really factual) of fashion meeting function.

Brand names were not a huge priority in my house and shopping at Zellers (think Target or Wal-Mart) for knock-offs to suffice my need for the latest trends took place a lot (hey! Don’t judge. I was making $5 an hour on a good day babysitting). So off I went to find an appropriate pair of these fabulous pants. Somehow, knock-off designers missed the memo about the ability for these pants to fully be removed by tearing them away (hence the ever clever name of “tear-aways”). On the knock-offs, the entire side seams of the track pants would be snap buttons but the waist would still be intact, leaving only the fabric from the legs to flutter in the wind. This was perfect for the scandalous fashionista in me, but not-so-perfect for the functional part of this design.

How I evolved with this trend through out the 90s and beyond

  • When I was 13, I had a pair of knock-off tear-aways. I was just your regular Sporty Spice in the making.
  • When I was 15, I owned jeans that were slit up to the knee, exposing my “flirtatious” calves.
  • When I was 18, I owned pants that laced up the outside seams from my hips to my thighs (think Christina Aguilera in the “Come on Over” music video) that I loved to wear to the night clubs. Scandalous!

And like Christina, I would up the sex appeal of this leg-baring trend with the ubiquitous belly-baring tops that fashion dictated we wear in the 90s.

Thank you Adidas, I salute you for creating a pant that formed my fashion sense during my impressionable years.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Children of the 90s Jewelry Trends

Like all fashion trends, jewelry fads are fickle. What’s fashionable and stylish one day can seem remarkably passe the next. Youth-oriented trends can be particularly fleeting; capitalizing on what’s considered cool requires a certain dump-and-run marketing strategy as styles shift.

Unfortunately, these quickly changing trends means all of us bandwagon preteen fashionistas can look back at old photos and cringe at our choice of accessories. Our style may not have been as overblown and overdone as the Madonna-style accessory-laden looks of our 80s predecessors, but we still had more than our fair share of poorly executed jewelry looks. Here are just a few of the popular jewelry fads that plagued our generation:

Best Friends Necklaces

According to the logic of 80s and 90s jewelry designers, nothing quite says “Best Friends Forever!” like the raw imagery of a broken heart. Really, what better to symbolize our forever friendship than a heart brutally cracked down its center, allowing us to flaunt its tattered remains around our necks as a symbol of how much we care for one another? It’s near foolproof reasoning.

In reality, the symbol was probably pretty appropriate for the quick-shifting alliances of young girls. “Forever” was a fairly flexible notion to the wearers of these necklaces, as many so-called friends called back and/or reissued the other necklace to a newer, cooler friend. I wouldn’t feel too bad about it, though. Who really wants to wear a necklace that reads “BE FRIE” or “ST NDS” anyway?

Tattoo Style Chokers

A choker, by its very name and nature, sounds more like an instrument of torture than a jewelry fashion statement. Add the word “tattoo” and you’ve got a pretty questionable trend on your, neck. These woven plastic necklaces and bracelets were a huge overnight trend in the late 90s. Their closeness to the skin combined with the flatness of the plastic gave it a look like a neck tattoo, because what kind of middle schooler doesn’t want to look like they have a permanently inked celtic pattern running across their jugular?

Dog Tags

On a dog, a dog tag makes perfect sense: tag your animal to ensure his safe delivery back to you in the case he gets lost or runs away. In the days before cell phone GPS tracking, perhaps our parents felt it necessary to tag us for migratory purposes. Dog tags may also be appropriate for military personnel, but their practicality wanes a bit when it’s either jewel encrusted and manufactured by Tiffany and Co or distributed as a giveaway at a bar mitzvah party or sweet sixteen.

Slap Bracelets

Any good child of the 90s knows violence and jewelry goes hand in hand, or least wrist in wrist. That’s the best conclusion we can deduce from the overwhelming popularity of slap bracelets, a cloth or plastic coated wire that snapped into place when it was slapped on the wrist. Schools were quick to outlaw these after horror stories emerged of wires snapping out and accidentally slitting open wrists.

Nonetheless, these were a staple of a 90s childhood, commonly found as cheap takeaways in birthday party bags or as arcade prizes. A little danger over a burst artery or two didn’t scare us; we children of the 90s liked to live on the cheap accessory edge.

Jelly Bracelets

Jelly bracelets were more of a holdover from the 80s, but many of us still wore ours proudly well into the 80s. Perhaps we wanted to coordinate well with our jelly sandals, or maybe we were just early adopted of SillyBandz. Whatever the reason, we stacked these babies up to our elbows in bright neon colors.

Body Jewelry

The 90s was a notorious time for rebellious teenagers sporting tattoos and piercings they were sure to regret sometime in a five year span after acquiring them. Belly button and tongue piercings were especially popular, perhaps because they freaked out our parents so much. Teen pop stars like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera sported dangly belly button bling and inspired an ill-advised generation of young women (including myself, for full disclosure purposes) to accessorize their navels.

It was also very popular to sport a row of earrings up and down each ear, with a full row of studs or hoops running from cartilage to lobe. For those of us with easily shocked parents, we sometimes were kind enough to compromise with temporary magnetic piercings or clip-on cuffs. They provided the ultimate in poseur accessories--they looked like piercings, but served a population of young people too chicken to actually pierce anything.

Yin Yang Jewelry

Don’t be fooled by the ancient symbolism of the yin and yang--most of us children of the 90s were not particularly concerned with interdependence or complementary forces driving our universe. Instead, most of us just sported whatever Claire’s told us to wear. In this case, many of us supported an ancient Taoist philosophy without even knowing it.

Hemp Necklaces

For the craftier of 90s children, hemp necklaces were a great logical next step up from friendship bracelets. Simply buy some hemp, knot it up with a few beads, and tie it on a friend’s neck not to be removed until he or she can no longer stand the smell. Hemp necklaces were great for those who were wannabe hippies or just wanted to look like one. Like most trends in the 90s, appearances far outweighed the actual underlying ideology a trend seemed to represent. It was unlikely any of us could speak at length about the uses and sustainability of hemp as a resource, but we’d be more than happy to wear a knotted length of it around our necks.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Tommy Hilfiger

Tommy Hilfiger’s signature red and white block logo with the navy border has become so ubiquitous as a knockoff design for cheap tourist t-shirts and souvenir regalia that it’s become hard to remember that this insignia was once popular in its own right. At different times throughout the 1990s, Hilfiger’s logo exemplified a wide variety of fashion movements ranging from cool (hip hop style crewneck sweatshirts) style to shameful (preppy preadolescent polos).

The 90s were a time of great brand consciousness; many mainstream young fashion followers were content to plaster themselves silly with logo-emblazoned garments. Despite all of the alternative movements of the 90s, much of the decade’s fashion was still largely characterized by an adherence to brand names and an unexplainable willingness to shell out fifty bucks for a sweatshirt whose only redeeming quality was a stamped on logo and accompanying designer name.

Hilfiger’s fashion became such a coveted status symbol that when rapper Snoop Dogg wore a signature Hilfiger red, white, and navy rugby shirt for an appearance on a 1994 episode of Saturday Night Live, New York City stores quickly sold out of the style. Hilfiger’s sportswear became a highly versatile trend, transitioning seamlessly from suburban teenager to hip hop icon. Hilfiger capitalized on his popularity among popular rappers and hip hop artists, including Coolio and Puff Daddy in his runway shows and enlisting the late singer Aaliyah in a print campaign.

His clothing designs were simple, featuring iconic designs, patriotic color schemes, and lots and lots of logos. A simple shirt or pair of jeans bearing little visual interest outside of Hilfiger’s signature logo sold for a relatively high price, giving the brand the illusion of exclusivity. Many children of the 90s undoubtedly argued with their parents that yes, it was totally worth it to pay forty dollars for a plain t-shirt with “Tommy Girl” splashed across the chest. With multiple successful clothing and fragrance lines, it seemed Tommy Hilfiger was destined for uncapped style popularity.

Unfortunately for Hilfiger, at the height of his 90s success the newly evolved internet rumor mill started churning out falsehoods about Hilfiger’s purported prejudiced beliefs. A widely circulated email incorrectly reported Hilfiger’s allegedly racist views and claimed he had appeared on Oprah to disparage Black, Jewish, Asian, Hispanic and other non-white wearers of his clothing. You may have received or heard about an email like this:

Oprah's interview and Tommy Hilfiger Good for Oprah!!!! I'm sure many of you watched the recent taping of The Oprah Winfrey show where her guest was Tommy Hilfiger. On the show, she asked him if the statements about race he was accused of saying were true.

Statements like"... if I'd known African-Americans, Hispanics, Jews and Asians would buy my clothes, I would not have made them so nice. I wish these people would NOT buy my clothes, as they are made for upper class white people."

His answer to Oprah was a simple, "YES". Where after she immediately asked him to leave her show.

My suggestion? Don't buy your next shirt or Perfume from Tommy Hilfiger. Let's give him what he asked for. Let's not buy his clothes.

Let's put him in a financial state where he himself will not be able to afford the ridiculous prices he puts on his clothes.


Many former Hilfiger fans were outraged over this claim, despite the fact that no one could remember or locate the footage of his supposed career-killing appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show. You would think with everyone up in arms over this story, someone somewhere would say, “Hey, this sounds kind of suspicious and made up. Maybe we should verify this as credible?” You would be wrong.

Hilfiger’s rep denied the statement, and Oprah declared the rumor false on her show. Over a decade after the original rumor took hold, Hilfiger appeared on the Oprah show to set the record straight and debunk the myth. Though now it is clear that there is no truth to the massively circulated email, its presence wrongfully damaged Hilfiger’s personal reputation.

Unluckily for Tommy Hilfiger, this was not his last brush with public scandal. All of Hilfiger’s clothing is marked “Made in the USA,” but his manufacturers utilized sweatshop labor in the Northern Mariana Islands. As a US territory, it technically verifies the “Made in the USA” claim without having to adhere to all of those pesky sweatshop labor laws like minimum wage. While they settled the class action suit, it didn’t do much for Hilfiger’s already wavering public esteem.

Despite all of the scandals--both verified and false--Hilfiger’s designs prevailed as some of the most popular fashions of the decade. While his popularity has faded significantly since his 90s glory days, Hilfiger remains a staple in department stores and has continued to expand his lines to include homewares and other items. His recent designs have veered more into the classic preppy than the hip hop style that brought him such fame in the 90s--it's certainly tough to imagine the still-famous but aging Snoop Dogg or P. Diddy appearing in a Hilfiger ad in this decade.

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