Flashback Fashion Friday: What Ever Happened to 5-7-9?

Our content contains affiliate links, so know that we may earn a buck if you click and buy.

Editor’s note: We originally published this story about the 5-7-9 stores in 2014. We’ve rewritten it to be more accurate and less one-sided. 

There’s nothing mysterious how retailer 5-7-9 got its name. Back in the ’80s, the shop, which catered to teenage girls, focused its collection on three sizes — you guessed it, sizes 5, 7 and 9.

In those days, the store chain was wildly popular. I was in high school at the time, and I remember seeing a 5-7-9 store in every mall around. With a selection of cheap, trendy clothes, the store was a magnet for teenage girls.

The 5-7-9 Debate: Just for Skinny Girls?

It’s important to note here that sizing has evolved over the years, kinda dramatically. Junior sizes 5, 7 and 9 in the ’80s probably equate to sizes 0, 3 and 5 today.

In today’s world, it seems ridiculous that a store would focus only on the smallest of sizes. For that reason, the original version of this article characterized 5-7-9 as a societal evil for its contribution to body shaming and low self-esteem. We said that girls who shopped 5-7-9 did so proudly, and snubbed their noses at the curvy girls who had to shop elsewhere.

5.7.9 store

The Other Side of the Story

I suspect I’ll get skewered in the comments for this, but I honestly don’t remember 5-7-9 stores being that exclusive. I was in high school from 1986 to 1990, and my memory tells me that sizes 5, 7 and 9 covered a large-ish chunk of high-school-girl population in those days.

Yes, the store excluded curvy girls, which stinks. But the sizing wasn’t so extreme that it only catered to a small minority of emaciated, underweight girls. I was of average size in high school — bigger than I am today by 15 or 20 pounds — and I could wear a 7.

But I never shopped there and thought, gosh, it sure is nice not to bother with all those petite, tall or plus sizes. Nor did I consider it a badge of honor that I was a 5-7-9 customer.

The ’70s and ’80s were rough on girls, for sure. Women in magazines, TV and movies were bone thin, like Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface. Women and girls went to extreme measures to get or stay skinny, and cases of anorexia and bulimia spiked.

In my mind, 5-7-9 stores were a product of that toxic environment — but not the cause or even a contributing factor. And…I’ll duck now in case you’re taking a swing.

The End of an Era

According to Wikipedia, the 5-7-9 brand was owned by Edison Brothers Stores between 1970 and 1999. The holding company was in the business of operating and expanding retail chains. They were good at it for a time, and then they weren’t. Edison Brothers Stores went bankrupt in 1999 and sold off its assets, which included the 5-7-9 stores.

5-7-9 Today, Or is it Rainbow?

While many of the original stores have disappeared, some are actually still alive. 5-7-9 has evolved in both positive and negative ways. The positive is that the stores now carry a full range of sizes, from petites to plus (applause here). On the negative side, the selection is pretty low-end.

The easiest way to get a taste of today’s 5-7-9 is to browse the online store at RainbowShops.com. Rainbow is 5-7-9’s sister store, and the two brands are heavily intermingled. If you try to visit the old website, 579.com, for example, you’ll get redirected to RainbowShops.com.

The only place I could find where 5-7-9 has its own identity outside of Rainbow is an old, unkept Facebook page. Sadly, the page has almost 128,000 followers, but it hasn’t been updated since February of 2017.

Store Locations

If you really want to take a nostalgic trip down the 5-7-9 memory lane, I did get a list of all remaining stores in the continental U.S. from Rainbow’s corporate office. Here they are:

California

224 Second Street Calexico

Colorado

Aurora Mall – 14200 East Alameda Ave Aurora

Georgia

Greenbriar Mall – 2841 Greenbriar Pkwy SW Atlanta
Stone Mt Square -5370 Stone Mountain Hwy – Stone Mountain

Massachusetts

Meadowbrook S/C – 211 Plain St. Lowell

Ohio

Shore Center – 22650 Shore Center Drive Euclid

5-7-9 also has dozens of locations in Puerto Rico. If you do take a trip into one of these stores, come back and let us know how it went!

 

  • Rosemary

    This store was around in the 1970’s, and it wasn’t for “skinny” girls. Most girls in High School wore those sizes. It was rare in the late 60’s or early ’70’s to see high school girls in sizes larger than a 9 back then. Those were “average” sizes, not skinny! Skinny was a size 3 back then. Was one of my favorite stores. Miss it.

  • Squirl

    I miss this store so much!!!! I am 4 ft. 10. Inches tall. I weigh about 105 lbs. This was the only store I could find pants that fit me. Now the stores in my home town closed. I think because of this body shaming thing. How dare a company provide clothing for somebody with a different body type. How dare somebody be born so small. Now when I go shopping for pants I have to.find something that mostly fits, take it home, cut it up, let it out, take it in, basicly taylor my own clothes. And.while.It is functional they usually turn out just a smidge askew and funny looking. It takes me hours to get a pair of pants ready to wear. Its aweful!!! I miss the days when I could walk into a 579 store and walk out with a pair of pants ready for immediate wearing. Crying that they are disappearing!!!!! 579, if you are out there… Please come back!!!!!

  • Crazycat

    I remember 5-7-9 being a neat little clothing store. I shopped there, and I’ve never really been considered petite.

  • Jill

    5 7 9 seemed to be the only place I could find anything to fit me. A 00 now probably doesn’t exist as to how it did for me in the 90’s. What people call a 00 is so different these days. The fit is,way off from back then! My Mom shopped there is the 70’s too. Imagine the size difference then! I wish I could find that store near me. I am still very tiny and can’t find pants to fit. I have 2 pairs of dress pants that stI’ll look great that I got at 579 and they are the only dress pants I am able to wear. I wish other stores would realize small people do exist and carry small sizes. I really miss this store. I can’t seem to find much on this brand on any site like ebay either. I miss you 579!!!

  • Andrea

    I want to thank all the ladies who’ve commented on this awful, skewed, one-sided article! This store was the best thing that happened to my self-esteem as a tween!! This was clearly written by someone who saw the name of the store, never bothered to talk to the young girls (I repeat “young” girls) and women who shopped there, and just made an assumption because the sizes didn’t go higher in the double digits. This store was the best thing that ever happened to me, and it opened in St. Louis, MO in my freshman year in high school (80’s). I had such low self esteem because the fashion industry ignored this large group of young girls and women who were too big for 7-14 girls, but could not fit size a size 5 regular in Juniors. The jeans were all oversized in the butt, hips, and waist (jean trends in the 80’s were tight-fit), and skirts (trend was tight-fit) didn’t fit the waist and jolted out in the back where your butt was like an American Flag! I actually almost cried (with joy) when my mom took me to the mall and I saw this store that had a size 0!!! It fit every part of my body, and I felt like I wasn’t playing dress-up anymore in women’s clothes or avoiding being teased for something ill-fitted. I realized that I wasn’t the only one out there (although I felt that way at the time), and when I saw grown women shopping there, I knew that they were relieved that someone noticed them and filled the gap. This store faded because eventually the rest of the insensitive stores caught a whiff that we existed, and started caring those sizes. Now they have all the bottoms with these adjustable waists, but that still doesn’t account for the hip and butt area being baggy. I wish they were still around because now I have a daughter with the same issues, and luckily I know how to navigate her through it. The stores these days slipped away from carrying as many 0 and 1 sizes, but we rely on Rainbow, Forever 21, and others, but those aren’t made with great quality, so you have to be careful washing and drying.

    • Aimee Martinez

      I totally agree!! I was a twiggy teen with bird legs and no boobs. I could never find anything “trendy” in the girls department and the juniors department was always way too big. My mom would drive several hours to take me to a mall that had a 5-7-9 Store. I was always made fun of for my scrawny size and It was awesome being able to dress like the other girls my age. I now have a teenage daughter that has the same problem and I found this article while doing a search for a 579 Store. Nobody should be shamed for their body size or shape, including those that are smaller than average!

Skip to toolbar