Justice — no longer the epitome of high fashion

January 17, 2020 — by Anna Novoselov

Walk into any Justice store and you’re immediately bombarded with neon colors, sparkles and rainbows everywhere — almost as if a unicorn had barfed glitter over all the clothes and then dumped pink paint everywhere. 

Your eyes start to hurt simply from the overwhelming brightness. Your sense of smell is destroyed from the mysterious fruit scents wafting from every direction. And don’t even get me started on the cute cartoon animals with gigantic googly eyes and the cringey, motivational slogans plastered on the shirts.

Justice shirts have featured sayings such as “Sorry I can’t I’m busy making slime,” “All my friends are so cheesy” and “Today is going to be awesome!”

But somehow, just like most elementary school girls, I used to love Justice, a popular clothing brand that caters to girls from ages 6 to 12. Wearing Justice shirts and accessories was seen as the epitome of coolness — the more ostentatious and glaring, the better. The store even sells cheap jewelry, makeup and toys like slime kits.

It’s basically paradise for little girls.

The brand has more than 860 locations throughout the U.S. and also operates in Canada, Mexico, Asia and the Middle East. The prices are average for youth clothes (about $15-$20 for T-shirts, $20-$30 for long sleeve shirts and $25-$35 for pants) but the frequent promotions Justice has (e.g. Buy 1, Get 2 Free Clearence or 60 percent off most clothes) make it cheap.

Although Justice recently began featuring more monotone, dimmer colors and selling simpler clothes (perhaps to appeal to a wider audience and age range), the brand’s previous image remains ingrained in the childhoods of many teenage girls. We remember it as the sparkly heaven of color and animal print.

While I didn’t own a lot of clothes from Justice, I treasured the few I did. Entering Westgate’s Justice (which went out of business) was like walking into a magical kingdom of happiness.

Unsurprisingly, at the end of fourth grade, my perception of “high fashion” shifted. I began to wear blues, blacks, greys and whites with occasional splashes of red, green or teal.

Now, my closet mostly consists of dull colors that don’t attract much attention. I don’t think I own a single article of clothing that has neon or glitter.

A similar trend can be seen across society. While younger girls favor colorful, elaborate clothes that attract attention, teens and adults tend to gravitate toward monotone shades.

Often, children aren’t afraid to attract attention because they are not yet used to social norms that become more prevalent as people mature. They’re not afraid of standing out from the crowd or appearing “weird.” 

But as people grow older, they tend to succumb more easily  to societal standards and become more aware of how others perceive them. Perhaps, from this heightened reservedness, people seek colors that allow them to better blend into their surroundings.

Similar hues make it easier to “match” our clothes and appear cool and collected — to make it seem like our lives are as coordinated as out wardrobes. Cosmopolitan even has an article detailing how to style outfits solely out of one color to create a chic look. 

While adults are prompted to wear dim colors, for instance, by formal dress codes in work environments and informal expectations of street outfits,  manufacturers themselves perpetuate the inclination toward Justice-like clothes in young girls. Unrelentless advertising and ads may create the idea that young girls must wear girly, sparkly clothes to express their personalities and appeal to their peers. They may seek to imitate the princesses, Barbies and fairies pictured in the media marketed to them.

And the parents, afraid that their child will be the odd one out, mindlessly follow the trends. 

Or perhaps, Justice loses its appeal with age for a simpler reason — perhaps we simply lose the desire to look like a sparkly rainbow explosion or an animal print rug.