An early 1990s wrestler needed exactly four garments to wear when not in tights ready to walk through the curtain; a fanny pack, a Gold’s Gym tank top, a Ribera Steakhouse jacket, and most sacred of all, brightly colored Zubaz pants. Whenever people post pictures of “old school cool” in relation to pro wrestling, Zubaz isn’t far behind. Where many fashion trends have been adopted into wrestling culture, the iconic Zubaz are actually born from within.
Designed for comfort and versatility, the Zubaz pants were massively popular before falling back into oblivion for several years. But like many big stars in pro wrestling, nothing stays in retirement forever. The brand has seen a revival in recent years, helped in large part by wrestling fans and their nostalgia for the 1990s. Not only have fans breathed new life into Zubaz, but wrestlers themselves have also embraced the stripes of brand, revitalizing classic comfy pants and taking them to a whole new level. After all, life began for Zubaz in the imagination of a pair of pro wrestling’s most beloved legends.
Zubaz was born in the gymnasiums of the Road Warriors
Although Zubaz seized entire wrestling locker rooms in the early 1990s, they are synonymous with a duo; Road warriors. The face-painted bullies would become the poster boys for the Zubaz brand in many of their commercials once they became a hit, but both Hawk and Animal played key roles in creating the brand. In the late 1980s, the Road Warriors owned a pair of gyms, where they saw the assortment of outfits people would wear while working out. gym managers Bob Truax and Dan Stock to create something new.
The principle was quite simple. They wanted to design a pair of pants that could be worn in the gym, pants that wouldn’t cause discomfort when hitting weights. With soft, breathable material and an elasticated waist to expand with the owner’s muscle gains, fashion has also been added to their function with a range of striking patterns and designs. Although the brand covered all sorts of looks, by far the most popular was the instantly recognizable zebra stripes.
The Road Warriors played a much larger role in popularizing Zubaz beyond their initial inception. As big wrestling stars, wearing them everywhere was an endorsement in itself, with people bound to see the colorful pants everywhere they went. As business stakeholders, both would also have easy access to the product. Before hitting the road, Hawk and Animal would get a box of Zubaz and hand them out in locker rooms, and wrestling for the NWA at the time, which took them all over the country, leaving a path of wacky leisure pants in their wake. . In a 2013 interview with WWE.com, Road Warrior Animal even recalled sending “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith back to the UK with a pile of pants to distribute across the pond.
The Zubaz company became popular, but soon died out
The Zubaz brand found success early on, exploding in popularity, reaching huge heights outside of the wrestling world. As the pants exploded on their own, they would soon strike a deal that sold them at JC Penney stores across the country. Reaching more and more customers, the company soon found itself with even bigger partnerships. Soon the National Football League arrived, seeking to expand Zubaz’s reach in the sports world. A publicity shoot saw The Road Warriors with star Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino all wearing the famous Zubaz. The NFL partnership has seen all manner of new Zubaz hit the market, in all team colors, and with their crests proudly displayed. These made massive sales, earning Zubaz millions of dollars every year.
The good times couldn’t last, however, and the Zubaz company declared bankruptcy in 1996. The brand grew exponentially, but growth that the behind-the-scenes offices couldn’t keep up with. Sadly, Zubaz then disappeared, becoming one of those pop culture oddities that people remember from time to time. But nostalgia works in mysterious ways. Soon, people would yearn for the days when they could stack plates and hit a new one-rep max while decked out in a classic, comfy Zubaz.
Zubaz found his way back into the limelight
After over a decade of inactivity, Zubaz was revived by the original owners in 2007 with limited runs of their original designs. Proving successful and ready to bite the bullet once again, Truax and Stock did a full relaunch in 2014, opening a full online store, bringing Zubaz back to the world. Wrestling fans and wrestlers rejoiced. It wasn’t long before some of WWE’s biggest stars were donning the iconic pants, with the locker room starting to look much more like it did in the 1990s, at least in the clothing department. WWE has even partnered with Zubaz to make officially licensed merchandise, and who can forget Mojo Rawley’s Zubaz wrestling gear?
Zubaz is one of the most guilty pleasures in professional wrestling. Not exactly “high fashion,” but so ingrained in wrestling culture that it’s a must-have for many fans around the world. They act as a throwback to those legends of the late 1980s and 1990s, the ones fans idolized as larger-than-life characters that provided hours of entertainment. Not everyone can step between the ropes and put on a five-star classic like their heroes, but they can pull off a pair of Zubaz and reach an elite level of comfort.
The Road Warriors were one of the greatest teams of all time, so it’s no surprise that so many teams like Demolition tried to emulate them.
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