Back-to-school shopping? Don't forget feathers.

Back-to-school shopping now include feathers for students' hair. The back-to-school shopping trend is so strong that stores are running out of feathers.

Chris Pizzello/AP/File
Steven Tyler (pictured here with Jennifer Lopez on the FOX series "American Idol" earlier this year) has inspired the latest must-have for back-to-school shopping: hair feathers.

As kids flock back to school, feathers will fly — literally — with this fowl hair trend taking full flight.

The must-have, back-to-school look for girls — and a growing number of boys — is hair feathers. Real feathers from roosters, pheasants, ostrich and peacocks that are dyed brilliant colors and then attached by a small bead crimped to a few strands of hair at the skull.

Sisters Clio, 9, and Lola, 5, Reid were not nearly as excited about their back-to-school haircuts as they were the grand finale of picking new plumage for their locks at Jet Salon recently.

"The (feathers) are more important than whatever happens to their hair, as far as they are concerned," said dad Brian Reid.

The girls got their first feathers earlier this spring — although a little faded from their initial eye-popping brilliance — they look no worse for the wear, Reid said. Still — the new school year means new feathers.

And Reid predicts that when Clio and Lola run into Sheridan Elementary, they will be surrounded by plenty of "friends with feathers."

Hollywood celebrities Hilary Duff, Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Love Hewitt were reportedly the first to be spotted with feathered hair extensions. But it was Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler who sent the back-to-school shopping trend soaring when he wore them while judging "American Idol."

Shannon Lassek, co-owner of Salon Deja Vu, was one of the early birds in bringing the trend to Lincoln. She stumbled upon it while searching the Internet for another hair trend — hair tinsel.

Enamored, she bought 125 feathers. When she told her fellow stylists at Salon Deja Vu, they looked at her as if she were a birdbrain.

But that quickly changed when feathers flew out the door atop customers' heads. The salon has sold more than 1,100 feathers since offering them in March. She orders 100 feathers a week and goes through all of them.

Now salons across the city — as well as the country — are offering the hot pink, teal and neon green plumes, creating a national feather shortage.

"We can hardly keep them in stock," said Heather Harding, manager of Beyond Beauty. "We have had to go through multiple distributors. Everybody keeps selling out of them."

Much to the dismay of fishing supply stores.

Once a fairly cheap and abundant component of fishing lures, feathers not only are harder to come by, but have increased significantly in cost — which is reflected in the price of fishing lures.

It's also ruffled the feathers of animal rights activists, who say this fashion trend is leading to the increased slaughter of roosters for their saddle feathers — the ones most sought-after for hair extensions.

Meanwhile, the feather fanaticism carries on. Feathers are now the popular adornment in earrings, necklaces and clothing. Jet Salon even offers "feather parties" with younger girls bringing their entire birthday entourage in for feathering, said Anna Evans-Bayer, a colorist and stylist at the salon.

The feather fad has been a boon to other hair adornments, such as hair tinsel, clip-in fiber optic hair extensions and "hair bling" jewels that are glued onto strands of hair. But the one benefit feathers offer above all else is that they last.

They also can withstand almost everything you do to real hair — washing, drying, flat ironing, curling, etc., said Evans-Bayer.

"You can really customize it to your hair," she said.

While feathers are dyed in almost every color under the sun — natural and not-so natural — demand is highest for the "grizzly" zebra-striped feather in bright, bright colors — especially teal, hot pink and purple.

After all, the whole point of wearing them is to be noticed, Evans-Bayer said.

Most salons will tell you the average feather holds up eight to 12 weeks, but individual experiences have found feathers lasting up to six months, said Harding. While costs vary, many salons price feathers at $10-15 to start out.

Most people prefer three feathers — of different colors and styles to a single clip near the front of their face. Some, like Beyond Beauty's Heather Harding, wear several feather clips high and low.

And if you think this fashion trend is just for the younger generation, you are mistaken.

Everyone can — and they are — wearing feathers, said Lassek. She and her fellow stylists have applied them to toddlers all the way up to 75-year-old hipsters. Older women — those in the 40-and-up age range — tend to start out conservatively, choosing neutral colors. But nearly all quickly realize if you're going to wear feathers, they should stand out — and they return to the salon asking for the bright, bold colors, Harding said.

On a recent afternoon, Lassek applied Pittsburgh Steelers-colored feathers to the hair of a new kindergartner. They go with her new Steelers' lunch box, Lassek said. Plus, her daddy is a huge Steelers fan.

Another little girl got the go-ahead to get whatever feathers she wanted.

"She got 40," Lassek said.

The desire for feathers is so great, that one girl actually canceled her back-to-school hair appointment, when she found out the salon was out of pink feathers. She said she'd rather start school with shaggy hair than go without fresh feathers, Lassek said.

Slowly but surely, this trend is now crossing gender — as well as species lines.

Lassek has applied feathers to a handful of boys' hair.

The makers of Featherlocks for people, now offers Puppylocks for pooches. In a search of Lincoln grooming salons, no one had heard of dog feathers — yet. However, at Salon Deja Vu, $1 will buy you a clear rubber band adorned with feathers and a sequin — perfect for attaching to dogs' topknots.

A look at the half-full container suggests pooch feathers are selling well.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.