Extend your gratitude towards the cyclic nature of fashion, as major sartorial aesthetics of the bygone era pop up on your feed. Whether it’s multiple barrettes clubbed against each other or makeshift bandeaus with summery, satin scarfs—revisiting the past has been the inspiration for many. And fashion certainly has stayed on top of this game by bringing back the iconic hair accessory—scrunchies. Emblematic of the classic ’90s vibe, the evolution of this classic hair tie has taken the world by storm. From once being appreciated for its high-utility, scrunchies now mirror an evocative style that astutely runs parallel with the it-girl aesthetic.
It all started back in the late 1980s when Rommy Revson, a nightclub singer and pianist in the Big Apple, was looking for a gentler alternative to abrasive hair ties. Owing to the hair breakage caused by the ordinary bands, Revson created the first prototype of scrunchies, inspired by the waistband of her PJs. It became officially patented in 1987. Following its inception, the hair accessory entered the fashion scene, but its rise was rather languid. It was only until scrunchies were picked up by popular culture which catapulted the creation into the striking spotlight.
When Revson sold the patented accessory to Scünci International (a small hair care company in New Jersey), scrunchies officially entered the realms of commercialisation. The ’90s saw the humble hair tie garner a myriad of names, all with geographic relevance. From bunch bangle, hair cloud to the French chou chou, which translates to ‘favourite’ in English, Revson’s creation gained instant success amongst women who were looking to reap the fluffy benefits of a scrunchie.
With local departmental shops and drugstores like CVS in America offering these hair ties, scrunchies were no longer meant for the upper echelons of Hollywood. From the likes of Madonna, Demi Moore, Janet Jackson to popular female astronauts like Col. Pamela Melroy (who wore a blue scrunchie on two separate mission to the International Space Station)—the hair accessory found common ground.
By 2003, the trend began to fizzle out and eventually found its way out. The decline has been clearly documented in the notorious Sex And The City episode where Carrie Bradshaw states, “No woman would be caught dead in a hip downtown restaurant wearing a scrunchie!” It dissolved to the point wherein owning a scrunchie was safely deemed as a major fashion faux pas. But what goes around comes around—especially in fashion. And that’s exactly what happened.
Come 2018, and scrunchies found a resurgence of sorts. Proof? The runways and Hollywood’s it-girls. For its Resort 2018 collection, Balenciaga showcased crinkly versions of the hair accessory in bright yellows and pinks, which brought the trend back. While Armani Privé took one step further and presented scrunchies for one’s forehead in its Fall 2019 collection. New York-based womenswear designer Maryam Nassir Zadeh veered from the realms of convention and upgraded the scrunchie with a scarf-like appearance at her NYFW presentation.
From oversized and XXL forms, sheer versions, pastel hues to funky prints, scrunchies moulded themselves into a weapon of expression. And now, it’s extended from a hair accessory to something that can be stacked together on the wrists for that ideal summer uniform.
No matter which stance you hold for this modest creation, the fact remains that scrunchies are here to stay. Wear them on your wrist, elevate it with a scarf or experiment with the avant-garde forms; scrunchies will always find a way back in the sartorial game.
Photographs: Instagram, Pinterest