You may not see them on the runways of New York, Paris or Milan, but these little items are the biggest fashion statement since ... Silly Bandz. Remember those funny rubber bracelets that came in a variety of different shapes?
The Silly Bandz craze, which peaked in 2010 and lasted for a few months, seemed to have died out almost as quickly.
Enter rubber band bracelets. Whether they are made on a Rainbow Loom, Fun Loom or Cra-Z-Loom, these colorful bracelets are being churned out by the dozen by young girls and boys all over the country.
How do we know they are so popular? First, you can hardly see a girl between the ages of 6-12 who isn't wearing one; and second, they are already being banned in schools. Just recently two schools in New York banned the bracelets, and in one case, even the looms on which they are made have been labeled contraband.
According to our experts a group of area tweens they first made their appearance sometime this summer, and the fad is just heating up.
"I learned it from my friend Payton," Abigail Christman, 8, of Lehighton, said. "They are all the rage in South Carolina."
Abigail and her sister, Hannah, 11, are rubber band bracelet experts.
"At first I found it a little complicated," Hannah said. "But now, it's easy."
The Christman girls joined several of their friends and dance school classmates recently in the kitchen of fellow dancer Hailey Anthony, 9, for a quick bracelet making session and pizza party, before they skipped off to class.
The girls, gathered around the large kitchen island in the Anthony's Lehighton home, were turning out bracelets so quickly, it was hard to glean how they are made.
Since she learned to make the bracelets, Hailey has made dozens for classmates and family, including her cousin and her cousin's boyfriend.
The ones she has kept for herself she displays on her favorite stuffed animal, a bull dog named Rockstar, who sports about two dozen multicolored bracelets and necklaces.
"I saw them at dance class," said Hailey, "on other people. The first one I got was from Taylor."
And Taylor Saba, 9, said she got one from her friend Lauren. And so it goes.
Hailey and her friend Danielle Miller, 10, of Lehighton, recently had a sleepover where they stayed up until 3 a.m. making bracelets for Hailey's other stuffed animals, then they posed them and hosted a minifashion show.
Ten-year-old Alexis Neri of Palmerton shared her secret of how she learned to make bracelets.
"I looked it up on YouTube," said Alexis.
The other girls agreed that YouTube videos have been very helpful. And using the video did make it a lot easier to understand, especially since you can pause it or start again; which, as any parent will tell you, isn't always the case with an 8- or 9-year-old girl.
In case you're interested in getting on board with this latest craze, check out this video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTerQy8M-BI . The young girl narrating seems to be channeling chef and home-style maven Martha Stewart, and she is clear and concise in her directions.
Once you get the hang of making a bracelet, it's almost second nature, as evidenced by the flying fingers and sheer number of bracelets turned out during our visit.
In addition to the bracelets, the girls made necklaces, rings and earrings. Danielle said she has a bracelet for every outfit.
"They're really fashionable," said 8-year-old Makayla Sabatino of Lehighton.
"They're the coolest thing ever," added Hannah.
The cost for the various looms runs from about $12 through $27 or more for kits that include a large variety of rubber bands and "C" clips to hold the bracelets together. For just under $3.50, you can buy individual bags of 600 rubber bands in a nearly two dozen colors, including some that glow in the dark.