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Reminiscing 80s Fashion: Popular Stores that Shaped an Era

CEO Tinh Phung
DEB Shop It's a bittersweet feeling to witness the closing of boutiques, shopping malls, and other iconic clothing stores in today's world. However, back in the 80s, these establishments buzzed with energy, capturing the hearts...

DEB Shop DEB Shop

It's a bittersweet feeling to witness the closing of boutiques, shopping malls, and other iconic clothing stores in today's world. However, back in the 80s, these establishments buzzed with energy, capturing the hearts of teenagers and the young Generation X. These stores weren't merely places to spend money, but rather hangout spots where young people could escape the confines of school and strict parents. In this article, we'll take a nostalgic trip down memory lane to explore some of the most popular 80s clothing and fashion stores.

Discovering the Playground of the 80s

Merry-Go-Round Store Merry-Go-Round Store

Shopping malls in the 80s were not only shopping destinations, but vibrant playgrounds for teenagers. Envision scenes reminiscent of movies like "Valley Girl," "Weird Science," "Mean Girls," "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," and even the hit series "Stranger Things." These malls were filled with escalators, elevators, lighted water fountains, fast food stands, and occasional live entertainment. Even shopping itself became an adventure, with an endless array of colors, styles, and accessories. In the 80s, embracing the weird was a statement of cool.

The Rise and Fall of Iconic Stores

Kinney Shoes Kinney Shoes

While some stores managed to withstand the test of time, such as The Gap and Spencer's, many iconic 80s stores have faded into oblivion. These stores either struggled to keep up with ever-changing trends, lost ground to online shopping, or were absorbed by larger retail chains. Let's reminisce about some of these beloved fashion establishments:

1. Deb Shops

Deb Shops

Deb Shops dominated the teenage and young adult clothing market in the 80s. With their 295 stores and affordable prices, they offered everything from casual wear to sportswear and lingerie. However, despite frequent updates to match the latest trends, Deb Shops faced financial challenges. In 2015, after filing for bankruptcy, they bid farewell to their physical stores, continuing to sell online until 2018.

2. Merry-Go-Round


Merry-Go-Round excelled in contemporary and trendy fashion, captivating a wide audience aged 15 to 35. Starting with a focus on blue jeans, the company expanded to nearly 1,000 stores across 39 states. Unfortunately, Merry-Go-Round stumbled when its foray into baggy hip-hop clothing disappointed its target market. After declaring bankruptcy, the brand faded away in the 90s.

3. Chess King

Chess King

Chess King, founded in 1968, was renowned for its men's fashion, offering everything from parachute pants and bomber jackets to trendy accessories. The store even experimented with three spin-off specialty stores. Despite its popularity in the 80s, Chess King met a similar fate as Merry-Go-Round. It was acquired by Merry-Go-Round in 1993 and subsequently closed its doors in 1995.

4. Kinney Shoes

Kinney Shoes

Known as "The Great American Shoe Store," Kinney Shoes was a go-to destination for shoe shopping in the 80s. They catered to everyone, offering moderately priced shoes from well-known brands like Reebok, Buster Brown, and their own athletic line, Stadia. Kinney's name may no longer grace storefronts, but its legacy lives on through Foot Locker, which acquired the trademarks of Kinney and Woolworth.

Kmart 80s Kmart

5. Kmart

Kmart holds a special place in the hearts of those who experienced the 80s era. It stood tall as the retail giant, offering not only clothes but a wide variety of products. In the 80s, Kmart boasted an impressive 2,486 stores globally. Although the company faced challenges in the 90s, it remains a subsidiary of Transform SR Brands LLC with a reduced number of stores. However, like many other iconic stores, Kmart's glory days have come to an end.

Fond Memories and Future Nostalgia

The aforementioned stores were just a glimpse into the vibrant world of 80s fashion. Some brands, like Esprit and Benetton, continue to thrive, while others like The Ground Round still exist but have lost their former shine. Although these stores may never make a comeback, it's delightful to reminisce about the past and share our experiences. We encourage you to share your memories and favorite 80s fashion stores in the comments section below. Let's celebrate an era that shaped our fashion sensibilities and left an indelible mark on our lives.