Retailers Sell Snoods for the Holidays - WSJ.com
Can the Snood Save Christmas?
Designers and retailers tout the half-scarf, half-hood
By RACHEL DODES
This holiday season, retailers are betting big on the snood, a cross between a scarf and a hood that, when worn over the head, is reminiscent of a babushka.
A Snood for the Ages
Getty Images Lady Gaga sports a red snood.
The trend emerged on the Fall 2009 runways of designers like Missoni (knit snoods) and Burberry (plaid snoods) and also made an appearance in the commercial collections of Donna Karan and Yves Saint Laurent. Now it's gone mainstream, with retailers ranging from American Apparel to Zara getting behind the loopy style with snoods of varying lengths and monikers. The British version of GQ magazine's Web site recently posted a "Guide to Snoods," suggesting wearers try it "over a chunky knit or tailored jacket."
A few weeks ago Bloomingdale's urged customers to "make sure that you're seen in this lavish new accessory." Henri Bendel ranked the snood second amongst its top ten "things we fancy for fall" while Saks Fifth Avenue included it in its "Want It" fall campaign. "Gossip Girl" star Blake Lively was photographed in one on the show's set last month.
Catwalking/Getty Images Missoni ribbed-knit mohair snood, $265.
Zara Zara cowl neck collar, $29.90.
Net-a-Porter.com's buying director Holli Rogers confesses she was skeptical the site would sell many snoods last summer, when the site had a month-long exclusive to sell a Burberry purple-and-black plaid style. The item is already on reorder, and the company is now pitching several styles.
Burberry, whose chief financial officer recently cited the snood as one of the top drivers of the company's fall accessories sales, attributes the snood's rise to consumers' desire for safety in tumultuous times. "I love this idea of protection that it gives," says the brand's creative director Christopher Bailey, who was so into the look that he showed snoods for men and women on almost every model at his fall 2009 runway show. Simon Kneen, creative director for Gap Inc.'s Banana Republic brand, also likened the accessory to "a Linus blanket," a reference to the blue security blanket always carried by the Peanuts cartoon character.
Angela Missoni, creative director of the Italian fashion label Missoni, said the look was a way to "stay true to Missoni's knitwear roots while creating something new" and calls the snood "a lavish play on layering." "It's handy," adds Brooke Scott, Bloomingdale's fashion director for accessories, who identified snoods as one of two top holiday trends. "If you get hot, you don't have to remove it" because it can remain around the neck.
So Many Snoods
A quick tour through some of the fashion industry's latest offerings:
Burberry: $295 for its popular "check" snood in cashmere
Burberry, credited with reigniting the trend, also has wool, mink and rabbit fur versions.
Missoni: $265 for a ribbed snood that can wrap around the head twice
The company is offering five snood styles in different colors and fabrics.
Chan Luu: $125 for a paisley viscose "infinity loop" at Saks Fifth Avenue
The designer also has tie-dye versions in various color combinations for $75.
The Limited: $39.50 for an acrylic Shaker infinity scarf in a chunky knit
The scarf comes in 12 bright colors, and can be mixed and matched with sweaters, like a detachable turtleneck.
Ash & Dans: $110 for this infinity scarf, which comes with a brooch, at Henri Bendel
Henri Bendel says that embellished scarves are selling best; these range in price from $110-$150.
Banana Republic: $98 for a cashmere infinity scarf that can be wrapped around the head three times
The retailer is unveiling a range of these scarves in various fabrics, textures and colors for the holidays.
American Apparel: $28 for a solid-color "circle scarf" in different materials
For the holidays, the company is adding print versions of this style.
Donna Karan: $695 cashmere infinity scarf
The designer's DKNY line has infinity styles priced from $95 to $225.
Amid the downturn, the rush to the snood reflects the fashion industry's scramble to invent new types of clothing that consumers don't already possess. Sales of scarves and mufflers, a relatively cheap way to freshen an outfit, have been strong, generating $540 million in sales through August, a 21% increase over the same period last year, according to NPD Group.
Traditional snoods, which resembled hairnets, were popular in the 1940s when women used them to keep their long hair out of the way. In the 1950s, the snood morphed into a tube, which became a ski-slope staple, says Beth Dincuff Charleston, a professor and fashion historian at Parsons, the New School for Design in New York. This time around, the style has been transformed: The creation of snoods in colorful plaids, fur and prints, as opposed to just polar fleece, renders them "new and fresh," says Ms. Dincuff.
As much as they love its look, many retailers, particularly in the U.S., aren't as in love with the snood's name, which can sound more like a Dr. Seuss character than a hot fashion item. Designer Chan Luu sells "infinity loops"; American Apparel hawks "circle scarves" and Banana Republic pitches an "infinity scarf" as does the Limited, which offers its scarves in 12 colors. The word snood "sounds like something that has been woken out of sleep," says Banana Republic's Mr. Kneen. An infinity scarf "is an endless piece that's timeless with a twist."
Burberry's Mr. Bailey is sticking with snood. "It's a very British name for it, which feels more relevant to what inspired us and to what we stand for," he says.
Rachel Kirson, a 24-year-old teacher from Manalapan, N. J., says she got her first glimpse of the snood in a magazine over the summer. "I have fallen in love with them," says Ms. Kirson, who has been looking for a snood in charcoal-grey with a horizontal cable knit for herself; she is planning on giving snoods as gifts for the holidays. "I like wearing bold jewelry so the snood is almost a necklace for the winter months."