If you’ve ever found yourself absentmindedly playing with your bag’s fur charm or your kid’s fidget spinner while watching the latest natural (or news) disaster on TV, you’re not alone. This desire to calm our hands, and our minds, in such a stressful world has actually helped influence a whole new age of tactile accessories (think sequins that brush up and down, super-plush fur bags, worry bead necklaces and more). While the fidget spinner was actually created to soothe children with ADHD, the accessories industry is discovering that such tactile and “fidget” items have real applications for adult use too, however accidental.
“These fidget and comfort items are self soothers, much like a pacifier is to a baby,” says Manhattan-based Psychotherapist Ingrid Wright. “People’s anxiety levels have risen due to our current knowledge of current crises, be they natural disasters, shootings, terrorist activity and other political issues. As we’re constantly tethered to our phones, we hear about these disasters instantaneously and it increases our anxiety. This anxiety is demonstrated by fidgeting. In addition, many people aren’t incorporating exercise into their daily routine and need this release of physical anxiety.”
Ken Downing, Senior Vice President and Fashion Director at Neiman Marcus, concurs. “As our society continues to be digitally focused, with technology becoming the first, and often the only touchpoint with one another, we are finding ourselves more and more disconnected. And as human interaction becoming more rare, the desire for a tactile experience is increasingly more important. Tactile feels more real, literally and figuratively. It’s the comfort of touch. Accessories and fashion that feel good comfort our craving for a return to a social society. Is it possible it’s time to put down our hand helds and maybe hold a hand?
“It’s the comfort of touch. Accessories and fashion that feel good comfort our craving for a return to a social society. Is it possible it’s time to put down our hand helds and maybe hold a hand?”
–Ken Downing, SVP/Fashion Director,
From cozy fur bags or charms that beg to be pet, stroked and touched, to sequins that change pattern or color when brushed from one direction to the next, designers have delivered. Fringe tassels, be they leather bag charms or metal tassels on a necklace, can keep hands occupied during a work meeting, especially when reaching for our phones is frowned upon. Consider these accessories adult stress balls. In fact, “squishy” items are hot with kids and tweens, so it’s no surprise adults are intrigued as well.
“I think this craze is for anyone age 8 to adult,” says Corey Glassberg, president of Top Trenz Inc., which is seeing a surge in its brushed sequin pillows and bags. “It plays into the whole fidgety ADHD craze that took off with our spinners. These sequin pillows have a tactile feel so it is soothing and calming. The squishy items are like stress balls they squeeze, and the novelty is the slow rise effect. Ours are actually scented so they give a calming and refocusing effect.”
The desire to share such experiences is strong as well. Instagram and other social media outlets are filled with videos of adults playing with sequined bags (above, Kent Stetson clutch). And while it’s all about the Instagram opp, if it keeps those hands occupied, all the better.
Another tactile/fidget trend that falls into this category? Rosary bead necklaces like this one from Love, Lisa. While prayer or rosary beads are often called “worry beads,” we’re just going to go ahead and call them Fidget Necklaces. Besides, it’s much better than twirling our hair!