London - The most debated hair accessory in history appears to be making a comeback, thanks to a bevvy of immaculately well-groomed and awe-inspiring Olympic gymnasts.

The scrunchie, usually resigned to laughable images from the 1980s and 90s, is a traditional hair accessory for the gravity-defying sport that has long been a pipe dream of millions of girls worldwide.

The put-together Olympians, with their clean and slicked back ponytails and cute up-dos, always finish off their outfits with a matching scrunchie, and it seems the fashion industry is taking note.

Popularised during the mid-80s, when Bananarama-loving schoolgirls took the printed soft elastic hairband to their hearts and heads, the scrunchie, patented by Rommy Revson in 1994, quickly became the go-to hair accessory of that time.

Available in a multitude of colours and fabrics, they were simultaneously the most fashionable and hair-friendly accessories on the market.

But after a good run, the scrunchie, much like the era’s fashions, ultimately became passé as an accessory indicative of an era when side-ponytails and fingerless gloves were considered the height of style.

Even US secretary of state Hillary Clinton made headlines earlier this year for her bygone scrunchie-wearing ways.

Defying her staff’s request in a recent issue of Elle magazine to “ban her scrunchies”, Clinton continued to wear the frilly accessory.

Making a scrunchie statement, while in Cambodia at the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy Dialogue, she upgraded her usual cotton style to evening-ready metallic paillettes, which began a long debate on whether to scrunchie, or not to scrunchie.

Now, after a decade of battling a bad rap, the pinnacle of which came during a 2003 episode of Sex and the City in which Carrie Bradshaw famously insisted that “real” New York women would never wear a scrunchie, the accessory’s ruffled glory is again capturing the attention and hearts of millions.

When the US women’s gymnastics team took the gold in London last week, two of the seven team members were sporting scrunchies.

Viewers quickly noticed, taking to Twitter to discuss it.

ESPN broadcaster Samantha Steele wrote: “I’ve noticed many things while watching late night gymnastics. Most notable: the scrunchie is alive and well.”

Another user tweeted: “Gymnastics: single-handedly keeping scrunchie manufacturers in business.”

Gymnast Lindsey Green believes that it isn’t the aesthetic, but function that are key to their popularity in gymnastics, telling Today: “I don’t know what they make these things out of but they just hold your hair so much better than a regular elastic.”

She added: “It’s so solid and you could literally do 100 back-flips and your hair would really not come out of the scrunchie. If your hair is in your face and you’re trying to balance on a beam you’ve got a big problem in front of you.”

Whatever the reason, from Olympic stage to retail shops, the scrunchie is turning up everywhere from American Apparel to Marc by Marc Jacobs. – Daily Mail