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There’s nothing mysterious about the origin of the name of the popular 1980s store, 5-7-9. In a fashion culture that is becoming hyper-sensitive to size shaming, size discrimination, size profiling, etc. etc., it is almost impossible to imagine the existence of a store that caters solely to a range of three sizes, but that’s exactly what 5-7-9 was.
We’re not talking about petite cuts or plus sizes, addressing the specific needs of a particular group of people (curvy girls or the vertically challenged, like myself). But rather to the culturally ideal skinny girls. Because of course these three sizes needed a store all to themselves, where they wouldn’t be bothered by, um, all those pesky other sizes. Yes, this was a real thing.
Just to be clear, remember sizes 5, 7 and 9 were different then than they are now – girls in that range would, by current size charts, most likely be closer to sizes 0, 3, and 5 approximately. So basically, during a decade defined by the phrase “you can never be too rich or too thin” – with an accompanying rise in awareness of eating disorders and drop in young girls’ self-esteem – the 5-7-9 store was perfectly poised for huge success. Eighties girls saw it as a badge of honor to be able to shop (and fit into the clothing at) the 5-7-9 store which, quite frankly, did carry super cute (and typically slightly over-priced) trendy clothes of the time. Unfortunately for 5-7-9, like most of the other super trendy mall-based stores, the end of the “me” decade and the advent of online shopping competition doomed the retailer to brand oblivion by the 1990s.
Oblivion is apparently relative, however, and while there’s almost no information on the company itself, a little quick research turns up evidence that 5-7-9 stores do still exist (a “duh” moment, no doubt, for those of you in regions with a store location nearby). They primarily appear to be in outlet mall locations and in Puerto Rico, but if there are stores in our own area we may never know – we hit search on the store locator function on the 5-7-9 website (which, in a mix of English and Spanish, is purely informational, not e-commerce) only to be greeted by this message: “Your connection is not private. Attackers might be trying to steal your information from www.579.com (for example, passwords, messages, or credit cards).” Ooookay – we didn’t really need to know that badly anyway. By the by, this seemed to be a problem originating at the 579.com end, not ours – meaning we will not be visiting that website again and will scan our computers posthaste.
Before we hit the store location dead-end, however, we did peruse the “about us” page on the 5-7-9 site, which does give us a tiny amount of information about the current brand, defining itself as “national retail apparel company” specializing in “trendy junior clothing featuring sizes 00 through 9.” Oddly, it goes on to detail their socio-economic target demographic as girls from the suburbs with a “middle and upper income background” who “use malls as a social meeting place as well as a place to shop.” We feel like the about us page could do more to give us the warm fuzzies about shopping their brand rather than acting as a page from their own marketing manifesto, so between that and the mysterious “attacker” threat, we’re out.
We would be remiss not to point out, however, that 5-7-9 online is closely linked to it’s “sister” store, Rainbow. This is, apparently, the “good” sister, specializing in trendy clothing from junior to plus sizes, with a clean e-commerce web design, reasonably appropriate “about us” page, and super-budget trendy pieces ala Forever 21. Still, the connection to the seemingly threat-filled 5-7-9 website makes us slightly uneasy about shopping Rainbow online – fortunately, their store locator actually worked, so if we decide to check them out, we can do it the old-fashioned way. At the mall.