The rise and rise of the scrunchie

1990s fashion is back and it’s bringing the scrunchie with it


We are in the middle of a 1990s fashion renaissance. It all started with the crop top, then chunky platform shoes a la Spice Girls, then satin slips began appearing, and last week we started to notice girls around town sporting chockers like modern day Buffy the Vampire Slayers. The final piece in this 1990s fashion jigsaw is the scrunchie- it’s appearance is inevitable.

Last summer, Katalina Sharkey de Solis was watching the 1988 film “Heathers” with her friend Ruthie Friedlander when she had a fashion epiphany. In the movie, the scrunchie, so ubiquitous in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, was a sign of power. Sharkey de Solis, who is a managing director at an ad agency, was ready for the comeback.

So she and Friedlander, deputy Web editor at, did a bit of late-night online shopping and bought a few. From there de Solis created an account, Scrunchies of Instagram, devoted to chronicling the return. She posts shots of scrunchie icons like the Olsen twins circa “Full House”; Tonya Harding; Melissa Joan Hart in “Clarissa Explains It All,”; and the devotee Hillary Clinton, who has joked that an alternative title for her memoir could have been “The Scrunchie Chronicles.”

There are pictures of girls of the moment like Tali Lennox and Arden Wohl wearing nouveau scrunchies. The account has only about 2,500 followers to date, but they are an influential bunch. One of them is the Lucky editor Eva Chen, who said that she started spotting scrunchies two years ago in Hong Kong and South Korea.

“I thought, ‘This will never happen in the U.S.,’ but here they are,” she said. “But it’s a different scrunchie nowadays. They were basically the size of a Hula Hoop in the ‘80s. Now they’re more streamlined.” The look has become a bit of an off-duty-model signature, seen on Cara Delevingne and Alice Dellal, as well as on assorted starlets like Rita Ora and Selena Gomez, who are young enough to have missed the trend the first time.

The humble scrunchie has made its way onto the runways of Rag & Bone, where they were wound around messy buns for the 2014 pre-fall collection. At Chanel’s fall ready-to-wear show, the hairstylist Sam McKnight used strips of Chanel tweed as scrunchies, and they’re wound around a high ponytail on Delevingne in the line’s most recent ad campaign.

There are luxe scrunchies, perhaps the most noteworthy being Missoni’s $95 one. (Don’t rush to your laptop just yet; it’s currently sold out on Net-a-Porter.) A quick search on Etsy reveals handmade scrunchies in Japanese shibori fabric and Aztec-inspired prints. More-affordable versions are available from Topshop, Nasty Gal, Urban Outfitters and American Apparel.

The return of the scrunchie is about “embracing the nostalgic elements of my youth,” said Tara Swennen, a stylist who has worked with Kristen Stewart and Connie Britton. She likens it to the throwback-cool of the Birkenstock, this summer’s footwear of choice in New York City neighborhoods like Nolita, Montauk and Williamsburg.

The New York Times News Service

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