|Loom band craze fetches French couple $1m|
A photo taken on July 23, 2014 in Lille, northern France, shows coloured small elastic bands used to make "Rainbow Loom" bracelets, a new fashion imported from the United States. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUEN.
By: Sandra Ferrer
PARIS (AFP).- For millions of school children they are the must have fashion accessory of the moment. Footballer David Beckham and Britain's Prince William have sported them. Even Pope Francis has been photographed wearing a few.
Loom bands -- colourful rubber bands woven together into bracelets and other items -- are the latest craze to sweep playgrounds everywhere from New York to Singapore.
Last month a dress made entirely from loom bands was sold on the online auction site eBay for £170,000 ($287,000) and the fad has made one French couple a million-dollar fortune.
Shops now sell kits and they are increasingly used to make items from key rings and phone cases to necklaces and bikinis.
The craze even has its own vocabulary with designs for bracelets available on the Internet such as "inverted hexafish", "fishtail" or "dragon scale".
British woman Kathryn Burnand spent three-and-a-half weeks weaving her loom band dress which was originally priced at little more than $80.
But after going on eBay, it attracted bids from over 135 countries, landing Burnand and the friend who put it up for auction with a staggering windfall.
Loom bands were invented in the US four years ago by Cheong Choon Ng, then a crash-test engineer in Detroit, who got the idea after seeing his daughters making bracelets out of elastic bands.
His loom device has sold millions worldwide and turned the Malaysian immigrant himself into a millionaire.
Emmanuel and Morgane Laurencon from Brittany in northwestern France are among those who have successfully jumped on the bandwagon.
The family now have the exclusive rights to sell Ng's Rainbow Loom products in France, Belgium and French-speaking Switzerland.
The couple and their four children moved to Miami in 2012 and Emmanuel became curious after he noticed his young daughter bringing the bands home from school.
"Each time the family or some friends were coming from France, the girls of the same age as my daughter shut themselves in the bedroom to make bracelets for hours," he said.
The phenomenon had not yet taken off in the US but the Laurencons decided that "something was going on" and resolved not to return to France "empty handed".
After they arrived back in 2013, the family garage in the Brittany town of Quimper was soon pressed into service as an office-cum-warehouse for their loom business.
$1 million turnover
"We thought it was going to grow gradually , but in fact it has grown exponentially," said Emmanuel.
The Laurencons now employ six people and the business is installed on the ground floor of a small building in the centre of Quimper.
Alexandra Balikdjian, a psychologist specialising in consumer behaviour at the Free University of Brussels, said it was easy to see why loom bands had taken off.
"These bracelets allow us to be like the people we identify with, but at a completely low cost," she said.
One young boy told AFP why he liked them.
"It's new and all my friends have one. I want one too," said seven-year-old Max.
"I really love to make them," he added, his eyes firmly fixed on one that he was making.
"The children love it," said Catherine Chanat, director of a leisure centre in Arpajon near Paris.
Despite their popularity, the centre has banned them because they created "jealousies and frustrations for the children that don't have them" she said.
And there have been some safety concerns among parents after children wrapped them around their fingers before going to bed resulting in them turning black from lack of circulation.
The Laurencons, however, are sitting pretty with an annual turnover of just over a million dollars (800,000 euros).
The family can't quite believe their luck and say there is plenty more potential in the business.
"It's the sort of thing that only happens once in a lifetime!" Emmanuel added.
© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse
August 2, 2014
'The World c. 1914: Colour Photography Before the Great War' exhibition opens in Berlin
Masterworks by Pollock, Rothko, and Johns inaugurate Clark Art Institute's galleries
The Whitney, TF Cornerstone, and High Line Art collaborate on outdoor Alex Katz installation
Celebrated Edouard Manet portrait to be offered for the first time at auction in New York
British graffiti artist Banksy's spy mural in southwest England defaced by vandals - with graffiti
Heroes at Highclere: Experience the real Downton Abbey; Online-only auction now open for bidding
Museum der Moderne Salzburg announces death of artist, filmmaker, author, and curator Harun Farocki
London 2012 Cauldron's first public display since Games in new Museum of London gallery
Sotheby's New York to offer 175 masterworks to celebrate 175 years of photography
Dallas Museum of Art to present exhibition of underexplored work by Jackson Pollock
The Phantom of The Opera movie poster brings $203,150 at Heritage Auctions
'Forgotten Fighters: the First World War at Sea' opens at the National Maritime Museum
Morphy Auctions acquires Victorian Casino Antiques, industry leaders in gambling and coin-op auctions
Tribal and Oceanic artifacts among highlights of Great Gatsbys auction
Brooklyn Museum now offers free admission to visitors age nineteen and under
Signed ticket from Lou Gehrig's July 4, 1939 'Luckiest Man' retirement speech brings $95,600 at auction
Fine and important clocks to be auctioned at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions
'First World War Centenary: From Fells to Flanders' on view at Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry
Helen Benigson brings weightlifting women to Yorkshire Sculpture Park
'Guillermo Kuitca: Philosophy for Princesses' on view at Pinacoteca do Estado de Sao Paulo
Loom band craze fetches French couple $1m
Most Popular Last Seven Days
1.- Egypt conservationists to sue over 'botched' Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun mask repair
2.- Scrolls scorched by Vesuvius may be read again thanks to 21st century technology
3.- Italian government seizes more than 5,000 looted antiquities in record 45-million-euro haul
4.- Remains of at least five people found in Alexander the Great-era tomb in Amphipolis
5.- Munich poised to lift ban on Holocaust memorial project known as Stolpersteine
6.- Rare coin records smashed by Heritage Auctions at Florida United Numismatists Convention
7.- Bonhams to offer Alan Turing's hidden manuscript on the foundations of mathematics and computer science
8.- Jane Wilson, painter of luminous landscapes, dies at the age of 90 in New York
9.- First exhibition in the UK to examine Rubens influence on art history opens in London
10.- Paul Simonon presents a series of new paintings at London's Institute of Contemporary Arts
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|