The silicone bracelets obsessed over by kids have made their way onto the wrists of stylish grown-ups. For an industry keen on owning the name-brand original, however, the "real thing" proves hard to discern.
When The New York Times first started to cover the fad of "silly bandz," the colorful stretchy bracelets -- that come in shapes that range from dinosaurs to seashells -- were already selling out in kids' stores and piling up on the wrists of little tykes all over the city. By June, the colorful bracelets had been spotted on style-setters like Sarah Jessica Parker and Mary-Kate Olsen.
After we'd spotted them on an unlikely corporate employee in midtown who admitted, somewhat sheepishly, that she'd bought them at Duane Reade, we decided to investigate. Sure enough we found a pile of "Fun Bands" -- $1.99 for a pack of 12 -- at our local Duane Reade and returned to the office to show off our booty, only to be informed that we'd bought a spin-off brand: The originals, we were informed, are Silly Bandz, not Fun Bands.
Sure enough, on the Silly Bandz site, the brand claims to tbe the "only original source for SillyBandz," and warns shoppers not to "be fooled by imitators." A bit of quick research, however, yielded around a half-dozen different brands selling the same product (some even referenced by The Times in its initial coverage): Silly Bandz, Zanybandz, Crazy Bands, Rubba Bandz, Wild Bandz and more. Style.com claimed Mary-Kate Olsen had worn Wild Bands, while Us Weekly credited Sarah Jessica Parker's bracelets to Silly Bandz. So for fashionistas, the "real thing" may be tough to come by. That said, by the time this fad climaxes (we're betting late summer), it may well be the look more than the label that actually matters.