Reporting Jason DeRusha
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — More kids are now wearing the zebra-striped pants their fathers found so comfy.
Zubaz, a Minnesota sportswear brand, received an unexpected push — and national exposure — from March Madness. Now, the owners are trying to keep up with all the attention.
Twenty-five years ago, Dan Stock and Bob Truax started selling these wacky stripes. They brought the brand back from hibernation in 2007.
The Zubaz offices have the look and feel of the Hall of Fame with posters, pictures and memorabilia from the brand’s heyday in the early-90s, when it seemed like everybody wore their zebra-print pants.
“The product’s just this crazy, comfortable thing that’s now making a comeback,” said Stock.
Teenagers are now wearing them as retro gear and, with more sports licenses, business has really taken off in the last few months.
“Seven to eight times in business this year, in 2013, than we did in 2012,” said Truax.
Their recent success occurred even before Adidas unveiled new uniforms for the NCAA basketball tournament with a familiar striped pattern.
“They just happened to pattern something that we’ve kind of been known for and everything,” said Stock.
It’s close to their copyrighted print, but suing isn’t their style.
“You know we’ve had people ask us if we’d take legal action — absolutely not. It’s nothing but great publicity for us,” said Stock.
It certainly is.
The New York Times even noticed, with a big story Wednesday.
“We’re getting all kinds of people that have called us from the past, that say, ‘hey, saw you on the article’ and this and that. Then, all kinds of, like I said, the buyers and the people we work with on daily basis, so it’s been busy,” said Truax.
The owners say besides teenagers and college kids, the biggest difference these days is how many women are wearing and buying Zubaz. It used to be 80-20, guys to women. Now, it’s much closer to 50-50.