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Hits from the Past
Written by Associated Press
Published on June 7, 2011
Jim Bernstein the manager of Eldredge Bros fly-fishing shop in Maine spends a lot of time these days on the phone to customers wanting to buy his hackles. Hackles are the long skinny rooster feathers that fishermen use to make their lures and Jim just keeps on selling out of them.
What has this got to do with hair you may ask? Well the calls are coming from hairdressers’ eager to stock up on hackles because they are part of the latest hair trend – feather extensions.
Nationwide supplies of the feathers are running out due to the high demand from people wanting to get the feather haired look, a look fuelled partly by Steven Tyler’s appearances on American Idol. Online sales of the feathers are now rocketing with some people paying hundreds of dollars more than the regular price for them.
Jim Bernstein says: "I'm looking around the shop thinking, 'Hmmm, what else can they put in their hair?'" But fly fishermen are less happy about this particular trend with online forums and message boards filling up with sneering comments about the “feather ladies.”
The problem is that it can take years for the roosters to grow these feathers meaning that they are difficult to come by in the first place. And now the hairdressing trade is snapping them up some people aren’t happy.
Whiting Farms, Inc in Colorado is one of the world’s biggest producers of fly tying feathers and they keep birds for around a year to make sure the desired tail feathers grow to a good length. Sadly most roosters do not survive the ‘plucking’ process.
When used for hair extensions the feathers can be blow-dried, brushed, curled or straightened once they’ve been fitted. They usually sell for around $5 to $10 per piece and have become so popular that there is now even a company that sells feather extensions especially for dogs!
Some fly-fishing shops are now holding back their supplies for their usual customers with Whiting Farm no longer taking on new accounts. Although the increased business means that they are now harvesting some 1500 birds per week with the aim of keeping up with their present orders.
Whiting Farms is the company that warned Jim Bernstein that he too could be set for an increase in demand for the feathers. Bernstein initially laughed at the idea saying; "This is Maine, it's not California. We're a little behind the trends here." He added, "I screwed up. I should have said: 'Send me everything you've got.'"
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