MOA® Moments: Fashion Through the Years

From velour tracksuits and grunge to bell sleeves and mom jeans (again!), a look at fashion trends from the past 25 years.

The runways of New York, Paris, and Milan may be the places to discover the next big fashion trend. But if you really want to know what people are buying and wearing, look no further than Mall of America.

That’s where longtime MOA trend correspondent Sara Rogers has done her best scouting over the years, through many fads and fashion statements—big shoulders, bare midriffs, trucker hats, and skull prints on everything from sneakers to designer handbags.

55425 Mall of America MOA Moments Fashion

“You can read what the fashion editors are saying and see what the celebrities are wearing, but when I saw skulls everywhere from Mall kiosks to Payless ShoeSource to Victoria’s Secret to Nordstrom, that’s when I deemed it a trend,” Rogers said. “You’ve got every demographic there.”

So many memorable fashion moments—and a few we’d maybe prefer to forget—have blossomed at the Mall since it opened in 1992, when jeans were tapered, jackets were boxy, sweaters were oversized, and Kurt Cobain claimed flannel shirts for the grunge movement.

From the Gym to the Street

One of the most iconic trends of the early ‘90s: Zubaz, those baggy pants with the elastic waistband that came in a bunch of wild prints and were embraced by everyone from football star Dan Marino to super model Claudia Schiffer. Created by a couple of Minnesota bodybuilders who just wanted to wear something comfortable for weight lifting, Zubaz grew into a phenomenon, reportedly selling 50,000 pairs per week at the height of their popularity.

55425 Mall of America MOA Moments Fashion

NFL legend Dan Marino couldn’t escape the allure of Zubaz.

And long before “athleisure” was even a word, Juicy Couture tracksuits became the ultimate off-duty ensemble. Bloomingdale’s at the Mall devoted an entire department to the velour zip-ups, with women grabbing the matching tops and bottoms in every color, despite their steep price.

Remember the excitement at the Mall when the Ed Hardy store opened? That was back when Jon and Kate Goesslin were married and T-shirts featuring tattoo-inspired graphic prints with roses and skulls were all the rage. And we can’t help but miss Arden B., once a reliable resource to get the dress for less, such as the figure-hugging Herve Leger-inspired bandage dresses that every Real Housewife once bought in bulk.

Today, Zara, H&M, and Forever 21 are among the Mall retailers providing the same fashion thrills on a budget.

“It doesn’t really matter what your age is,” Rogers said. “It’s all about wardrobe management: 70 to 80 percent of your wardrobe should be classic, and you’re looking for a few exclamation points. I like to find those trend pieces inexpensively.”

Timeless Trends

This spring, a bell sleeve is an instant update, along with backless loafers and frayed hems on jeans. The cold shoulder continues to be popular with women of all shapes and sizes. One of the newest options is one-shoulder tops.

55425 Mall of America MOA Moments Fashion

Of course, by the time we celebrate the Mall’s next big birthday, shoulder cutouts may make the list of trends gone by. That’s the ebb and flow of fashion, and that’s what keeps us shopping!

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