Why We Call Them Crochet Braids...
This debate has been ongoing since Crochet Braids regained popularity in the last 7 years. Crafters are up in arms because the Hair Industry is using the term Crochet. This is my feeble attempt to put this debate to rest.
Back in the late 70s and early 80s, individual hair extensions exploded on the music scene with artists like Patrice Rushen, Rick James and Ashford & Simpson. They traveled to countries in Africa and returned to the U.S. with beautiful braids and beads never seen before. American stylists wanted to recreate these looks but needed to find a way to minimize the installation timeframe. Individual plaits could sometimes take days to install.
Instead of individually plaiting each braid, Crafters offered a quicker way to achieve a braided look. They created yarn braids with their Crochet Hooks because it was much faster than plaiting. The yarn braids were done in bulk, then cut and burned at the ends. Manufacturers in China picked up on the trend and it wasn't long before Kankekalon was being used instead of yarn. The hair fiber was processed using the crochet method usually used for yarn.
At the time, the Kanekalon fiber was mostly used for wigs but it was highly flammable. Human hair wigs became the preferred choice and manufacturers were left with warehouses full of Kanekalon. The braiding trend in the U.S. was in high demand, and China had plenty of it to supply. Wig shops were suddenly flowing with premade braids created for what was called Crochet Braids. The term stuck because it originated with crafters in the U.S.
Fast forward to the new millennium...and people who grew up wearing Crochet Braids are looking for protective styles that are quick to install. They rembered the ease and efficiency of the Crochet Braids but didn't want that retro look. Micro Braids offered silkier looks and the Kanekalon fiber had new technology that made it heat resistant. It only made sense that Stylists would use that old school familiar technique that was once used to popularize individual braids: Crochet Braids.
By this time, we were calling it Latch Hook Braids, Interlock Braids, Crochet Weave and a myriad of other things. The technique involved using a latch hook, which stylists were using to interlock and retwist Dread Locs. But the term Crochet Braids was the more popular term and it was reminiscent of the original technique once used to install braided hair to a cornrow base. And once YouTube came along, people finally saw the term Crochet Braids in writing and on video, so it stuck.
The combination of technology and tradition has led to a booming resurgence in the Braid Hair Industry. People who wear their natural hair want hair extensions that mimic their hair texture. And because the health of their hair is their main focus, many have chosen Crochet Braids because its less stress on the hair follicles and offers a wide variety of curl patterns.
The technique now called Crochet Braids started with a convenient protective style product. The name itself was derived from a genius crafting method. Over the years, its been transformed and rebirthed into what has become the new preferred protective style among black women. And this time, its here to stay.