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Why the $195 Balenciaga Scrunchie Is Peak 2017

Is a $195 scrunchie worth it? Well, that’s how much the thick hair band from Balenciaga’s Resort 2018 collection costs—shipping not included. Its steep price tag is comparable to that of a Vetements hoodie, which comes at a whopping $885—a triple-digit number that could also get you a 1999 Lincoln Town Car with 300,000 miles on it, or nearly 90 “Blue Light Special” hoodies at $10 a pop.

Lately, talking about ordinary items with extraordinary price tags has begun to feel a bit like Passover seder, where the first question at the table is: “Why is this night different than other nights?” In fashion terms that translates to: “Why is this item different from all other items?” In the case of this particular electric-blue Balenciaga scrunchie, it is indeed a bit better than its standard drugstore counterpart. Dated and cheeky, it’s packed with that relevant, delicious, bad-taste-good-taste attitude, especially since it is branded as a chouchou—a cutesy French word whose soft “chou” is a nice alternative to the hard, screeching “scr” of scrunchie. It’s also rendered in crinkly leather and stamped with the gold Balenciaga logo. Voila! Chic.

Balenciaga blue leather scrunchie
Photo: Courtesy of Net-a-porter
The hypebae scrunchie isn’t really breaking news, but part of a definitive style trend. 2017 has been the year of boring items gone viral with a few elevating factors, like clever branding. Today, my colleague pointed out that a large leather Loewe paper clip exists. Want one? Too bad: The roughly $95 knickknack is currently sold out. (Though, there is an even bigger one on for $15!) In the same vein, there were those anointed-by-Rihanna Gucci socks with a pretty crystal monogram that cost a cool $1,340. Last week, outside of New York’s Grand Central Station, I found one of those coveted Supreme Metro cards fluttering on a sidewalk grate. I picked it up. Hell, I read about how kids were waiting in line for hours to snag one back in February. Plus, I was curious to see how much they were going for online, after I had seen that a Fall 2016 Supreme brick was fetching more than $150 on eBay. Well, newsflash: Those Supreme subway swipes are currently priced out around $15 to $20 or, according to basic math, five or six rides on the MTA.
Loewe leather paperclip
Photo: Courtesy of Farfetch
All that is to say that shareability and shock value work hand-in-hand to determine an item’s dollar value. I first found that Balenciaga scrunchie on none other than Instagram. I had already seen it twice that day, although I think it had only been on e-commerce sites for about a week. Or was it two? The Instagram accounts were poking fun at the piece, questioning the almost $200 amount. Yet the seemingly absurd price tag is working in the scrunchie’s favor by turning heads—at least mine. Now, I just need to scrap together $195 to buy it. Maybe I’ll Instagram it, too, and spread the good word.

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