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Men's Bracelets Loom Large

Governor Chris Christie with his Rainbow Loom Bracelet

Until his grandchildren got Rainbow Loom kits, Ralph Fatigate had never owned a bracelet. Now he has nine, all made of tiny colored rubber bands. He wears them to meetings with bankers around the world.

Wall St. Journal - RACHEL LOUISE ENSIGN - March 24, 2014
Still, enough is enough. "I will wear no more than four at a time," said Mr. Fatigate, a former New York state banking regulator.
Rainbow Loom bracelets are all the rage among the tween set, and now they are gaining favor among businessmen who can't say no to a handmade gift from their kids—or their grandchildren. Though it might seem out of character, a lot of these men in suits say they have grown comfortable wearing these little love gifts in the workplace.
The bracelets are "the hottest trend out there right now," said Andrej Suskavcevic, president and chief executive of the Craft & Hobby Association, a trade group in Elmwood Park, N.J. "It is the Beanie Baby of today." Arts-and-crafts retailer Michaels Stores Inc., which is the exclusive big-box retailer for the Original Rainbow Loom Kit, said in late 2013 that the kit was largely responsible for its biggest quarterly same-store sales increase in eight years.
ABC late night host Jimmy Kimmel earlier this year wore a suit made from rubber bands. ABC
Bracelets generally have come into vogue among men who are young and fashion-forward. The trend has spawned a number of innovative names for these male accessories, including brocelet, mangles and mewellery. Some hip young men wear little braided bracelets. But this is a whole other order of fashionable attire.
"When a daughter looks at you after she has made something and says, 'This is for you, Dad,' there's only one right answer," said Phil Pegg, a vice president of North America marketing at business-software firm SAP America in Newtown Square, Pa., who got his first of three Rainbow Loom bracelets from his 12-year-old daughter, Sophie, last summer.
He didn't take that one off until it broke earlier this year. It was pink (Sophie's favorite color), green (Mr. Pegg's favorite color) and blue (which Sophie said was because Mr. Pegg is "a boy").
Mr. Pegg said he is otherwise a "fairly conservative dresser" who favors Brooks Brothers suits. Sophie now encourages him to coordinate his bracelets with the pastel Vineyard Vines ties he sometimes wears.
The bracelets have attracted notice at work. After a meeting, Mr. Pegg said, a colleague inquired about Mr. Pegg's unusual accessory. "He said, 'What is that?' Then he ended up getting one of his own," said Mr. Pegg.
Donald Migliori's bracelets Donald Migliori
ABC late night host Jimmy Kimmel, a father of two, earlier this year wore a suit and tie made entirely of Rainbow Loom bands on his show to auction off for charity. Cast members of the show wore similar creations.
Rainbow Loom was itself invented by a dad. Cheong Choon Ng, a father of two, came up with the product after struggling to keep up with his daughters in crafting projects. The loom allowed Mr. Ng's adult-size fingers to stitch the colorful rubber bands together.
There are no figures on what percentage of Rainbow Loom bracelets go to dads and grandfathers, but Mr. Ng said he often sees other men wearing them. The toy has fast become "wildly successful," said Adrienne Appell, toy trend specialist at the Toy Industry Association in New York. It won that trade group's Toy of the Year award in a number of categories this year. It embodies the burgeoning trend of retro toys that give kids a break from screen time, she said.
"Today's dads are a lot more hands on," said Ms. Appell, explaining why the bracelets have caught on with guys who travel business class. "Families and children hold a very special place in their world and they're not afraid to be open about it."
Men who wear the bracelets say they see clear signs of a trend taking hold. Mr. Fatigate said he is seeing other men wearing the bracelets on the commuter railroad he takes from his Westchester County home to his job as managing director at Alvarez & Marsal in Manhattan, where he consults with firms on anti-money-laundering programs.
Thanks to his granddaughter Madison, age 8, he now has a bracelet in the blue and white colors of the company's logo, which fortuitously are also the colors of the New York Yankees.
Attorney Greg Keating has an even larger bracelet collection, with about 20 pieces he can choose from when getting dressed for work. Mr. Keating represents companies in employment litigation as a shareholder at law firm Littler Mendelson PC in Boston.
His 11-year-old daughter Caroline started working with a looming kit last August. Now Mr. Keating said "she's probably approaching a black belt in Rainbow Loom" and recently made her dad a bracelet of glow-in-the-dark bands.
Now he's noticing that other men in the workplace are wearing these bracelets, too: He's spotted them in his office elevator, at business meetings and even in the courtroom. "I can't tell you how many times it's been a nice icebreaker," said Mr. Keating, who otherwise favors blue or black custom-made suits from a shop in Boston.
During trials, lawyer Donald Migliori, a member at firm Motley Rice, wears two Rainbow Loom bracelets made by his children. He said he is reluctant to wear other kinds of jewelry that might distract jurors, but the loom bracelets are a welcome reminder of his kids during the more than half of the year he spends on the road for work.
His 7-year-old daughter, Gloria, made him a purple, yellow and red Rainbow Loom ring recently. That's where Mr. Migliori, who has been involved in major litigation involving terrorism and tobacco, had to draw the line.
The rubber accessories "are beautiful and meaningful," Mr. Migliori said. "But the ring is so thick that I can't even close my hand with it on." Still, he added, "it makes a nice little keychain."

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