They’re colorful, ethically made, comfortable — and totally worth the wait.

By Erika Stalder
Jun 10, 2021 @ 4:44 pm
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Summer’s Hardest-to-Get Reservation is Autumn Adeigbo Hair Accessories
Credit: Courtesy/InStyle

You can have the coolest hair accessories - one-offs made of deadstock designer or hand-batiked fabric - that no one else on Zoom or brunch or pretty much anywhere is going to have this summer. But you're going to have to wait to get them.

That's because fashion designer Autumn Adeigbo is making knotted headbands and oversized scrunchies of mostly impossible to find fabrics. But even though hair accessories are generally a one-size-fits-all deal that are easily mass produced, she's not churning them out to meet a boom in search - or even demand on her own site. That means coming up on a voluminous scrunchie requires adding to cart immediately and waiting a few weeks - yes, weeks - before it lands in your mailbox.

"I treat it like we're in the '80s or '90s, when life wasn't a microwave and you had to wait for stuff," the designer says of her approach to e-commerce. "When we bought something, it's like we had to use the oven and wait - we appreciated what we bought and had because there was a little bit of a delay in getting things."

The designers accessories are made to order or stocked in extremely low quantities, and customer expectations for delivery are tempered with on-site notifications warning buyers that shipping will take two to five weeks time - and don't count on restocks. "For both the headbands and the scrunchies, we tend to keep a very small, limited inventory, then replenish as we can," she says. "Oftentimes we can't replenish because there's no more of that fabric in the market."

Fabrics are sometimes sourced from last season's Anna Sui or Oscar de La Renta collections, or from a global coterie of countries like Italy, France, Japan, and Ghana. Plus, the materials are always luxurious and have been made by workers who are paid a living wage.

As a way of countering what's known as "starvation wages" that garment workers are often paid, Adeigbo ensures all supply chains are secured with a fair wage agreement. Ditto for the finished products, which are made in a woman-owned factory in India.

Thanks to superior internal construction, the brand's headbands can be worn all day without inducing a headache. (Really. I wore a jewel-encrusted number through an impressive 12-hour run that proved so comfy, I forgot the thing was on my head come day's end.)

The feel-good benefits don't stop there: Adeigbo's slow fashion approach sidesteps the need to engage with fabric mills that require minimum material orders of hundreds or thousands of yards, something that ultimately reduces significant production waste. This means fewer pollutants are emitted into waterways, fewer raw materials are wasted, and fewer fashion bonfires - in which unsold inventory is torched rather than sold at a discount - are sparked.

hair accessories
Credit: courtesy

Of course, with headbands that start at $72 and generously sized, 8" scrunchies, priced at $55, choosing hair accessories made with such quality, purpose, and social and environmental sustainability will cost you. But Adeigbo says that's the point.

"It's important to invest in things that you love and that are going to last because you're investing in a better Earth and better care of the people who are making your products," she says. "It's not going to end up in a landfill very quickly because it's cheap. Instead, you'll keep it in your closet for 10 to 20 years because you've invested in it."

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Because Adeigbo's accessories are so limited edition, we can't even show you buy-it-now options that are sure to be on the site when you click. But for spring, Adeigbo identifies a "pastel feeling in the zeitgeist that I wanted to tap into."

"We're coming out of such dark times last year and there's a feeling of light optimism," she shares. "So I wanted to [address] the fantasy of what we're going to wear in the streets again - which is not much of a fantasy anymore and I'm very happy about."

She's delivered scrunchies in happy patterns, rendered in shades of Jordan almonds and knotted headbands topped with crystals the size of Jolly Ranchers. 

While trying to get your hands on one of her hair accessories (or dresses or face masks for that matter) can be tricky, there's only more of Adeigbo's purpose-driven fashion to come: To start, the designer is introducing handbags and shoes for fall. In seasons to come, Adeigbo is also looking to become even more entrenched in an ethical supply chain and as the company grows (thanks in part to a $1.3 million investment secured last summer). And eventually, her goal is to turn her attention to investing in other people's ventures, whether they're in tech, beauty, music or other fashion lines.

But no matter what she adds to the fold, be it through her own brand or in backing other creatives, intentional and ethical stewardship will remain key.

"I don't want to create more noise," she says. "Right now, we're at the baseline of having introduced the aesthetic to the public. It will only get better with time."