I grew up in the late 90s and early 2000s era where jelly shoes and door knockers were still a thing. Outlined lips and low-rise jeans were a must along with skirts with odd slip placements. These looks defined my youth and defined somewhat laughable trends to look back on. But what is ever present in our current fashion trends is the return of looks from the 90s. From lip outlining to baby hairs and various colored clothing. One thing that I remember most from these trends are the stores where people got their clothes. A little store called Rainbow, a littler known store called Fashion Bug, and maybe lesser known, Dots. These stores were formally considered the catalog for the “ratchet” girl. The girls who purchased make-up from Rite-aid or the around the way hair store. Girls considered to be “hood rats” before being a hood rat was cool.
I remember being young, in the mall, watching these girls go in and out of the store with bags and bags of Rainbow clothes. Outfits for almost every occasion. I also remember some of the whispers and looks for the girls who came from Rainbow with the huge bags. As years past, Rainbow had morphed from popping to being “that” store. The one where “those girls” shopped. I remember once reading Facebook comments about the clothes looking like they would, “make the skin itch.” The trendy powerhouse of the 90s became the “ghetto, cheap” store where none of us wanted to go, or where we went in secrecy. It was the store to get the big bangles, quick camisoles, and a basic t-shirt. Those gems that made Rainbow a go-to faded into the background. This was not the move anymore. The urban fashionistas transcended to Forever 21 and H&M. Of course, by this point the jelly sandals and door knockers had become a thing of the past. Skinny jeans, snapbacks, and Polo had moved in like a cold front. Rainbow was a background shop being dragged by Forever 21 and H&M.
It had become an unwritten punchline to a joke about the “basic girls at Rainbow.” Later, the emergence of Fashion Nova changed the entire game in about 2014. Fashion Nova became IT, especially with their magic jeans and crop tops. Fashion Nova and Forever 21 changed the game with their fashions except I couldn’t help but notice some of their clothes looked like Rainbow’s. From the fabric to the look, some of these clothes are the same. But what was it about Fashion Nova and Forever 21 that people loved so much? It could be they have everyday essentials or date night outfits or something cute and causal. Somehow, the reputation of Fashion Nova was building while Rainbow kept its bad name and bad taste in people’s mouths.
For years, up until recently, Rainbow was tens of steps behind the trendier stores. Recently, Rainbow has been making a comeback, being featured in magazines as a “cheap on trend store.”
The point is, before Forever 21 and Fashion Nova made their way into the hearts of thousands of Baltimore girls, there was Fashion Bug, Dots, and Rainbow. Three stores that defined the kick back, ring dance, and night out looks for several years.