Remember slap wraps? To the uninitiated, they sound like some kind of vicious weapon, but in actual fact the slap wrap was a toy/ fashion item very popular throughout the 90s. Available in a wide range of colours and patterns, the slap wrap was a massive fad for 90s kids. Fashion conscious pre-teens could even get one to match every outfit.
The slap wrap, also known as a slap bracelet, was created in the 1980s by a teacher called Stuart Anders from Wisconsin, and consisted of a stainless steel band covered in plastic, fabric or silicone. The wrap at first appeared a little like a school ruler, though usually more colourful in appearance. However, when the ramrod-straight toy band was ‘slapped’ against the wrist, it contorted itself as if by magic to form a vice-like grip around the wearer’s wrist and became a ‘fashionable’ bracelet.
The most popular slap wraps were, of course, brightly coloured and had vivid patterns on them, making them an incredibly eye-catching fashion item as well as a toy. Slap wraps were not gender specific and were worn proudly by both boys and girls with other lovely 90s trends, such as the Global Hypercolour t-shirt or the crop top. Usually featuring screamingly bright colours and vivid patterns, the slap bracelet was just another 90s fashion item fighting to be noticed first.
But like so many other fads for kids, the slap wrap began to cause controversy. It was discovered that, particularly in the cheaply made versions coming over from Asia, the bracelet’s metal often began to rust. Then, once the fabric or plastic covering started to deteriorate, the wearer would begin to feel the harmful effects of wearing the slap wrap. As more and more young children were reportedly suffering injuries from the bracelets, concerned parents jumped on the bandwagon and many schools started to ban them.
This was of course, not only due to the poorly made ones cutting the wrists of parents’ little darlings. Oh no. It was also because the parents’ little darlings were also wearing the slap wraps to school, taking them off during their lunch breaks and literally using them to slap each other with. Yes – with a name like the slap wrap, this bracelet was surely doomed to become the cause of the violence its very name suggested.
Those lovely 90s school children began to take out their frustrations on each other simply by asking to borrow or try on another child’s slap wrap. Then, once they had modelled it on themselves, they proceeded to slap the bracelet back on to the wrist of its owner. As hard as they liked. Then, when the first child cried out in agony, they blamed the make of bracelet. (But you’re supposed to slap it aren’t you? That’s what it’s called!)
Banning the slap wrap
So schools, probably wisely, began banning the slap wrap. The fashion pretty much died out, probably as all the slap wraps had been confiscated. In fact, there is probably a cupboard somewhere in every school in the country with a shelf full of confiscated slap wraps just waiting to be rediscovered.
Nowadays? Well it seems that the slap wrap is not quite dead. It has, in fact, been reinvented as some kind of safety equipment to protect the trousers of cyclists (?) and someone has created an LED version which allows joggers to be seen in the dark:
Who knew slap wraps could be used for good instead of evil? Long live the slap wrap, in all it’s re-incarnations!