Squishmallows are the 2021 trend
Squishmallows may be a collector's item, but they're still very huggable. (Illustration by Amber Duan, Pratt Institute)

Squishmallows Are Still the Latest Fad, but Their Popularity Might Have Staying Power

The lovable plush toys are all the rage this year. Why?

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Squishmallows are the 2021 trend

The lovable plush toys are all the rage this year. Why?

Back in 2013 and 2014, you couldn’t go to school without seeing someone wearing one of those Rainbow Loom rubber band bracelets. Almost everyone had a kit, and it was a common activity to do with friends. The bracelets also made great gifts, and you would often see people trading them. That trend disappeared within a year, and by 2015 those bracelets were pretty much unheard of, with the exception of people occasionally wearing them for nostalgia purposes. They were soon replaced by new trends, a different one appearing each year. In 2021, the trend is Squishmallows. These adorable marshmallow-shaped stuffed animals come in a wide variety of styles, including animals, fruit and popular characters. They make a great home decoration and — let’s face it — are very huggable.

Squishmallows have technically been around since 2017 but did not gain popularity until 2020, which is what classifies them as a pop-up trend. When the brand first got its start, it only consisted of a line of eight characters. In the years following, it rapidly expanded, growing to around 1000 characters as of 2021What makes Squishmallows unique is that each character comes with its own name and personality. For example, Brenda the Butterfly loves gardening and sells her flowers at the farmer’s market every weekend. Scarlet the Strawberry loves musical theater, and Zuzana the Planet enjoys playing the guitar.

Although both Squishmallows and Rainbow Loom bracelets seemed to appear out of nowhere, when you look at the concept of Squishmallows, they are more similar to the Beanie Babies trend of the 1990s in the sense that they are a collectible item with sentimental value. The goal of Squishmallow enthusiasts is to collect them all, which was what people did with Beanie Babies. Another commonality of these two trends is that they are collector’s items rather than toys. Squishmallows are usually put on display, oftentimes in elaborate setups, and photographed for social media where people can show off their collections.

As with everything in this day and age, social media is a huge component of the Squishmallows trend. Ever since they gained popularity almost two years ago, Instagram pages popped up all over the platform for people to show off their “Squishmallows Squad.” Because Squishmallows are now a cultural phenomenon, it is safe to say that they unite the community. People made friends through them both on social media and in real life. For example, you could see your neighbors outside, notice they displayed a Squishmallow in their window, and immediately start a conversation.

Even the official Squishmallows Instagram account is aware of the collecting trend and overall popularity of their product. More often than not, when serious collectors add a new member to their squad, they will take an artistic photo and post it, tagging the official account. The people behind this account actually check their mentions and repost pictures that collectors share. This is a huge advantage for Squishmallow enthusiasts with pages dedicated to their collection, as it can draw in more followers, which in turn leads to more potential friendships.

Social media actually helped the Squishmallows trend grow, giving it an advantage that many previous popular culture trends did not have. Back in 2014, when Rainbow Loom bracelets were popular, social media wasn’t as widespread as it is now, meaning the trend took longer to grow via the internet. Their only online presence took the form of YouTube videos that showed how to make various designs. Squishmallows, on the other hand, gained popularity on multiple platforms, with collector communities appearing on TikTok as well as Instagram.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVYNqJOMvZk
Although the stuffed animals are what most people think of when they hear someone mention Squishmallows, the company also makes trading cards with the characters, as well as a cartoon on YouTube called “Squishville,” which features many of their popular characters. Squishmallows has something for all ages; even though the people who collect the stuffed animals are within the 18-35 age range, the trading cards and “Squishville” appeal more to children. This is what gives Squishmallows an advantage over previous trends like Rainbow Loom bracelets, as the latter was only for young teens. So, if you’re a college-age student looking for a new hobby, Squishmallow collecting might be the way to go!

Writer Profile

Noir Galvin

Arcadia University
English and Creative Writing

I am a senior at Arcadia University graduating in December 2021. When I’m not in class or studying, I can be found working on an art project or writing short stories for fun.

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