Provocative Objects / Spaces

14 March 2024 -

Provocative Objects: Good Squish x Lace History

Good Squish is hair accessory and’ brand synonymous with large voluminous lace and gingham hair scrunchies. Launched in 2021 by brand founder Billie-Jo Cronin, the brand was born out of boredom during lockdown. Good Squish quickly caught a cult following within fashion’s trend setters and celebrities, such as actress Chloë Sevigny (1). The popularity of Good Squish allows us to question why such product gained popularity so quickly, becoming the IT accessory of the new decade (2). The name Good Squish refers to the objects texture, and represents something whimsical, playful, and attention-grabbing.

Cronin was no stranger to wearing her Swedish grandma’s Victorian table linen in her hair: “I wore a napkin as a hair bandana for ages, and my best friend came over at a dinner party and told me it looked weird… because it was a napkin – I really took that to heart,” despite this, she manipulated the napkin into her first hair accessory(3). Early styles employed Broderie Anglaise and Victorian lace, forming the iconic shape and texture to the accessories, or ‘squishes’ as they’re colloquially known. Broadly inspired by Ballet and Theatre culture, Good Squish capitalises on the aesthetic trend of juxtaposing elegance and eccentrics, adding sophistication and whimsy to any outfit. The largest ‘Queen’ squish has a diameter of 20cm, with 4 layers of broderie anglaise lace providing a dense and voluminous texture. Cronin first started making made-to-order ‘squishes’ for friends until word had spread around London and demand was feverish. It was quickly adopted by influencers, becoming a signifier of those developing modern British style.

Good Squish’s iconic voluminous shape, worn on the back of the head or directly on top, is instantly recognisable. What identifies them as unique is not only their outlandish shape but the exclusive use of ‘deadstock fabrics’: fabrics that are surplus in the supply chain and no longer used for their original purpose. This led to one-off pieces using limited fabric, cultivating a cult following and niche demand for individual accessories.

Lace accessories and headwear have adorned heads and bodies for centuries, and we can see Good Squish as the twenty-first century iteration of these. Lace has had a long and interesting history. Worn exclusively by the elite until the modernisation of production (handmade lace could not be replicated by machine until the 19th century), it was the ultimate expression of wealth, power, and modernity (4). If we understand traditional lace as a commodity and signifier of wealth (5), the resurgence of such a style in the 21st century can have the same connotations applied. Despite industrialisation and manufacturing advances, Good Squish scrunchies are considered expensive for the modern consumer, with prices ranging from £20-£65 (6) depending on material and size with the introduction of silk and hand pleated styles further inflating the cost. They gained cult status despite their prohibitive price, adding to the discourse that if a product is viral enough, customers will buy regardless in order to follow the trend. Counteracting this is the plethora of copies, but what holds the brand at the front of the trend is their social status and name-brand recognition. The easily recognisable silhouette has contributed to a community of likeminded consumers, with Good Squish scrunchies being a regular sight adorning the heads of millennials and Gen X and Z alike, and a common interacting being “Are you wearing a Good Squish?”

Good Squish, as a provocative object, possesses a unique charm that captivates attention while also sparking debate and discussion. Its inherent playfulness and refusal to adhere to traditional norms make it stand out in any setting. By not taking itself too seriously, Good Squish challenges the conventional notions of what constitutes seriousness and importance. Some may view it as frivolous or absurd, while others see it as a refreshing break from the mundane. This diversity of perspectives fuels the ongoing commentary surrounding Good Squish, turning it into more than just an object but a catalyst for discourse and reflection. Its ability to command attention and inspire dialogue showcases the power of unconventional ideas to stimulate community engagement and creative exploration.



(2) https://www.couvertureandthega...





Started by the DHS Ambassadors in 2022, the Design History Society’s Provocative Objects and Places blog series looks at spaces and objects that challenge and confront us as design historians.

Past topics have ranged from the ancient Colosseum in Rome to the ultramodern Antilia in Mumbai; pink razors and Barbies to Lalique’s Bacchantes vase and nineteenth-century asylum photography. The full collection of previous posts can be found here.

We invite submissions for guest blog posts from students, early career researchers, and established academics to those with a general interest in design history. Posts can be on any object or place from any era, anywhere in the world, which in some way incites discussion and debate.

Posts should be 500-800 words in length, accompanied by at least one image with associated credits and clearances, and a short bio. Please send to the DHS Senior Administrator, Dr Jenna Allsopp


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