By KAYLEEN SCHAEFER
New York Times
It wasn't until some elementary schools banned Silly Bandz, those colorful plastic bracelets that are the latest fad among the pencil-box set, that Ramona Sidlo, who is 30, wanted them for herself.
"I thought, 'This is nuts that a rubber band is causing so much hype,' " she said. "If kids are going crazy over these, I have to have them."
For the uninitiated, Silly Bandz are rubber bands, often in neon colors, that are shaped like everyday objects: a guitar, a baseball bat, a princess. Unlike the beige round elastics stashed in your desk drawer, these are meant to be worn on the wrist, and they snap back into their original silicon-molded shape - a turtle, perhaps, or a dinosaur or tiara - when you take them off. Children like to collect them by the Ziploc bag, and some principals have banished them, saying they're a distraction.
Sidlo, who lives in Brooklyn and runs a creative consulting company called ThreeNYC, now wears three on her left wrist - a palm tree, the number 3 and a monkey - along with a Rolex watch and several other bracelets, including one with a Tiffany silver heart charm, an evil eye and one with purple beads.
"The Silly Bandz look great in there," she said.
She is not the only adult piling them on. Mary-Kate Olsen and Sarah Jessica Parker have been seen wearing them, as have the model Agyness Deyn and her friend Henry Holland, the House of Holland designer. Kelly Ripa wore them on Live With Regis and Kelly and got Regis Philbin to put one on, too. Even the food writer and TV host Anthony Bourdain was photographed for New York magazine a few weeks ago with a turquoise one on his wrist.
"It's a natural progression for the product," said Robert Croak, the president of BCP Imports, the company in Toledo, Ohio, that makes Silly Bandz. "When we developed them, we always thought they'd be a great fashion accessory for all ages. Kids just took to them first."
In the same way that children trade Silly Bandz (and their many knockoffs) among themselves - swapping, say, a glow-in-the-dark elephant for a purple sea horse - people in their 20s and 30s are introducing one another to the bracelets' charms. They hand them out to friends at bars, or even to strangers on the train.
One Silly Bandz evangelist is Anna Sheffield, a New York jewelry designer who designs under her own name and the brand Bing Bang.
"I'm covered in tattoos, so they look a little different on me than a little kid," Sheffield said. She wears Silly Bandz along with three oval bangles and a two-finger ring, both of her own design. "I was in a meeting at Bergdorf's, and everyone was like: 'My kid has those. Why are you wearing them?' " she said.
Sheffield learned of Silly Bandz from her friend Sidlo, who gave her a rainbow-colored peace sign. "I love wearing them and giving them away," Sheffield said. "If you haven't seen one yet, it's like the first time you tried an ice cream cone."
Silly Bandz are so popular that there are now numerous imitations in stores nationwide, but the originals, which are $4.95 for a pack of 24, come from BCP Imports. To keep up with demand, the company has grown to 200 employees, up from 20, in the last year.
For some young adults, wearing Silly Bandz may be something more than a kitschy fashion statement.
"I think if you've just entered the adult world, you look for things that make you feel younger, like you're still a kid," said Alyssa Bieler, 23, a design assistant at a book publisher who lives in Garden City, N.Y.
At work, Bieler wears bracelets shaped like hippos and ostriches. "It's depressing to sit in a cubicle for nine hours a day," she said. "If you have on a silly rubber band that glows in the dark, it makes everything a little better."