Its not uncommon to see young teenage girls with bright or striped feathers in their hair nowadays. The feathers are long and thin and can be treated just like hair: blow drying, combing, and washing don’t disrupt any of its fashionable qualities. Many Hollywood stars have helped popularize the trend, but it wasn’t long ago that these feathers were solely used to attract fish.
James Brown, owner of Home Waters Fly Fishing in Eugene’s Whitaker neighborhood, says he remembers when the feathers started being bought for catching the eye instead of trout. “It was two years ago,” he says, “It was the Eugene Celebration.” He went on to explain a lady visiting from Crescent City came in and started looking through his saddles(a bundle of feathers numbering close to 300) and left after spending around $ 900.
The now coveted feathers come from a rooster called the Barred Plymouth Rock. Their feathers are divided up into different levels of quality depending on the sheen they give off in sunlight: platinum, gold, silver, bronze, and low-grade. The majority of feathers now being used in salons are low-grade feathers—the type that fisherman would normally never use to tie their flies. In the past distributors had a hard time getting rid of them, now some have started dying them pink and other exotic colors in order to sell them directly to salons.
The bulk of these feathers come from Whiting Farms in Colorado, which Brown explains is getting harder and harder to get top quality feathers from. The last time he ordered 26 saddles but only received 16, and gripes, “they were mostly low-grade feathers.”
Although Brown can’t help but chuckle at the recent trend, he has found tremendous success in selling the desirable hair accessory. “People are buyin’ like mad,” he says, in reference to woman in the past week buying 12 saddles and spending $ 420. Because of the feathers dwindling supply, James Brown and others like him find themselves gaining high percentage profits.
Recently, the New York Times ran an article about Los Angeles and New York’s fashion-minded desperate to have the feathers added. Many people foresee the supply running out and are worried about not being able to get anymore.
Brown finds it hard to believe that the sudden hairstyle will last much longer. “Its peaking around now,” he says. He believes people will soon move on to something else. Afterwards it will just be fisherman in his shop again.