They were once hailed by Carrie Bradshaw as a failsafe way to spot tourists in Manhattan. As she put it: “No woman who works at W Magazine and lives on Perry Street would be caught dead at a hip downtown restaurant wearing a scrunchie.”
But 15 years after Sex and the City’s demise, the humble hair-tie is still going strong and has re-entered the mainstream market in a way not seen since the 1990s. “They’re an accessory that’s both functional and fun,” said Sara Radin, named as the unofficial scrunchie historian by US National Public Radio after her potted history in Teen Vogue. This year it has been one of fashion’s top looks, with Pinterest reporting a 6309% rise in searches, and the fashion search engine Lyst seeing a 20% spike since the start of December.
Widely available in shops popular with under 25s, such as Claire’s and Urban Outfitters, scrunchies are now in pastures new, including Scandi brand Cos, which offers a velvet version for £15, while on luxury site Matches Fashion’s they are made of ruched silk from minimalist brand Lunya.But even Radin says they shouldn’t be taken too seriously. “Scrunchies are a little bit ridiculous in the best way possible, and that’s part of the fun of wearing them,” she said.
“For millennials and generation X, scrunchies remind us of our childhoods,” she said. While for the VSCO Girls of generation Z, they are being worn “as a celebration of themselves”.
So what is next? Radin sees a future for scrunchie scarves, as seen on the spring/summer 2020 catwalk of Maryam Nassir Zadeh. She also predicts more innovation “including size, shape, fabric, and appliqué.” People may like to wear two scrunchies at once – or, if feeling brave, sample the Dinner Scrunchie, a recent arrival on the scene. It is 8 ins in diameter – the size of a dinner plate.