In 2012, Lenny Kravitz was photographed nipping out to the shops wearing a scarf so large, the internet became embroiled in a debate over whether it was a scarf or actually a blanket.
Over a decade later, Kravitz reignited the discussion (and the memes) when on Saturday he once again donned said scarf to make his TikTok debut.
“Grab your big scarf. It’s the first day of fall,” the singer quips as he strides towards the camera engulfed in the brown knit in a five second video that has been viewed over six million times. However, now, Kravitz isn’t alone in his fondness for gargantuan scarves with the accessory trending both online and off.
While a standard scarf size hovers around the 25cm x 140cm mark, these XXL scarves fall in the 75cm x 210cm size bracket. Emma Macdonald, co-founder of TBCo, a Scottish design house which specialises in woollen scarves, says it is seeing the greatest demand in its oversized and blanket sections.
TBCo’s blanket style is half the size of an actual blanket. They were traditionally used as a knee blanket, however in 2023, the particular genre is more likely to pop up in a TikTok shopping haul video than it is to appear on the laps of the elderly.
“It was big and it was cold,” said Kravitz, defending his 2012 choice in an interview with GQ back in 2020. And while most of the UK is still basking in 20C heat, the unseasonal weather doesn’t seem to be deterring consumers prepping for colder months.
On Asos, a £22 colossal mustard and green checked scarf, displayed draped over a model’s shoulders and splaying along the ground, has completely sold out. Versions in different colours are “selling fast” as is a lime green tasselled scarf that despite being wrapped around the model’s neck, continues to fall to the ankle.
Romilly Proctor, senior buyer at luxury e-tailer Matches, says XXL scarves from Loewe, Acne Studios and Toteme are “having a real moment,” with the retailer expecting demand to ramp up even more as the season progresses.
Neither of these are cheap but compared to a £1,000 designer handbag or a piece of clothing, it’s a product that for some appeals as it offers a cheaper entry point into the luxury market.
For many, the fact that a huge scarf is designed to be as visible as possible also makes it an attractive purchase, even if plenty that come in muted colours are considered more “quiet luxury” than “loud.”
On social media, when not being worn, rather than flinging them on a coat rack users display them on the end of a sofa or bed.
Plus, as the temperature dial drops, there is also an obvious, practical element to the trend. A monstrous scarf promises to keep the wearer warm.
The high street is awash with designer dupes. There are striped versions at Cos (£79, above) and Tu at Sainsburys (£10, above) , clashing prints at Oliver Bonas (£38, top right) and every colour of the rainbow available on Etsy (from around £20).
“There are both practical and comfort elements to the trend,” says Macdonald, who lists mohair, lambswool and cashmere as sought-after fabrics. “Our customers are wrapping themselves up in them while working from home to stay warm. They’ll then leave the scarf on when they pop out for a walk or to get a coffee.”
But could there also be something deeper to the giant scarf resurgence? Dr Caroyln Mair, author of the Psychology of Fashion, highlights that the neck and shoulders are highly responsive to touch. According to Mair, in times of uncertainty, people look to clothing to give psychological comfort.
“It’s not surprising that wearing something soft, especially around the neck and shoulders, can make us feel comforted and protected, not only from the elements, Mair says. “These areas are symbolically linked to vulnerability and the need for protection. A large scarf can make us feel secure as they can envelop us like a cocoon.”
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