By Lisa Gutierrez
Tribune News Service
Never has a bit of fabric and elastic inspired such devotion and derision as the scrunchie.
The last time we saw flocks of females wearing scrunchies? It was the late ’80s, early ’90s, and Brenda Walsh had a new ZIP code – “Beverly Hills, 90210.”
But Material Girls take note: Scrunchies are back on top.
Chanel, Rag & Bone, Marc Jacobs and Vivienne Westwood have all brought back scrunchies as part of a ’90s fashion revival.
The list of It Girls sporting scrunchies grows longer every day – supermodel Cara Delevingne, singers Selena Gomez and Rita Ora and the women in Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” video.
Online, the fangirl page Scrunchies of Instagram winks at the trend with photos of Shih Tzus, babies and the girls of “Saved by the Bell” wearing scrunchies. Two women working in New York’s fashion industry started the page after watching the 1988 Winona Ryder movie “Heathers,” which famously turned red scrunchies into symbols of mean-girl power.
Kansas City fashion blogger Ashley White works for the American Academy of Family Physicians by day and writes about shoes and fashion by night on her blog, LeStyloRouge.com.
She was a “huge scrunchie fan in the ’90s” and had a drawer full of “every color imaginable. It would take some considerable collecting to get back to that level.
“I would wear a high pony(tail), top of the crown, with the scrunchie – lots of hair spray and D.J. Tanner bangs. ‘Full House’ was it.”
But White has been slow to embrace this particular part of the ’90s resurgence.
“When it’s done by someone who has clearly never stopped wearing scrunchies – no ma’am,” says White. “We need to talk.”
Although scrunchies are enjoying a fashion moment, they never really went away, evidenced by hundreds of handmade ones sold on Etsy and scores more sold to sports fans in school and team colors.
Function, not fashion. That’s why a lot of women wear scrunchies, the folks at Scunci, a hair accessories company, have found in their consumer research.
“It was really that go-to item,” says Scunci design director Nicole Hardcastle. “Many women say they come home from school or work and they throw their hair up. And it was such a comfort item, a staple that no one ever really parted with.”
However, when research groups are asked “who wears scrunchies,” a lot of women are shy about admitting it, says Hardcastle.
Maybe they bear the scrunchie scars that torment Jessie Artigue. The former Kansas Citian now lives in New York, where she writes the fashion blog Style & Pepper.
“I would have to say it’s my least favorite hair trend. I think I could find a bunch of people that feel the same way,” says Artigue. “I think it has to do with the fact that when the scrunchie was initially popular, I was at the most awkward phase of my personal style.
Scunci is busy reinventing scrunchies in new fabrics and colorful patterns for a new generation of fashionistas who obviously aren’t put off by the stigma.