LOS ANGELES -- Thousands of Taylor Swift fans showed up early to SoFi Stadium in Inglewood recently for the singer-songwriter's first of six sold-out shows. Many donned outfits that resembled the wardrobe featured in Swift's music videos and mimicked her onstage costuming and their wrists were hidden by rows of friendship bracelets.
It has become a rite of passage along The Eras Tour to come with arms loaded up with the multi-colored, beaded bracelets that have silly things Swift has said, song lyrics or little inside jokes spelled out in beads on them. Fans also have plastic baggies filled with these bracelets -- like the kind you learn to make in Girl Scouts, during art class in elementary school or while hanging out with friends at a sleepover.
Before the show, fans handed out the bracelets to each other, sometimes swapping, oftentimes providing some to those who either didn't know about the bracelets or couldn't afford to make or buy any after shelling out hundreds (or thousands) of dollars for tickets to these shows. It's all done with a lot of smiles, hugs and this palpable sense of community -- here, it doesn't matter who you are or what you look like, you're automatically a part of this experience.
"It's just such a great community of fans and it's like we're all best friends," Lexi Omlor of Corona said as she stood outside of the stadium taking photos with her two sisters, Sadie and DJ. "I was in tears earlier this week and not because I was sad ... this just all feels unreal. It's so fun and I'm so happy to be here."
Sadie Omlor said the bracelets are also a pretty good icebreaker.
"It's a fun way to meet people," she said. "We're all here for the same thing and it's fun to see how creative people get with them and see all of their ideas."
Several famous faces have gotten in on the action during the course of The Eras Tour, too. Actresses Jennifer Garner and Jennifer Lawrence were spotted on tour stops, their wrists covered with bracelets from Swifties. Rapper Flavor Flav got in on the fun during a stop in Detroit, where he was filmed sporting his Red Era-themed outfit and trading bracelets and dancing with fans. And even Kansas City Chiefs' tight end Travis Kelce hopped on the bracelet trend and admitted on his "New Heights with Jason and Travis Kelce" podcast that he'd made a bracelet with his phone number on it that he was hoping to slip to Swift during her show at Arrowhead Stadium in Missouri. He was left disappointed as the keepsake never made it to Swift.
"I'm just a gift giver," Mia Elsahaug of Salt Lake City said as she approached fans in the parking lot with her well-organized bracelet holder that contained 100 bracelets representing each of the eras on the tour. It took her about 15 minutes to make each one and she was carefully analyzing outfits to match the bracelet she handed over with the era the receiving fan was obviously into.
"I do it because I want to spread love to everyone," she added.
Ahead of her two sold-out shows at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., the stadium tried to enforce a "no bracelets" rule and the fans clapped back loudly in response. Following the mighty backlash, the stadium reserved its decision and fans were able to continue the tour tradition in the Bay Area. SoFi never even tried to impose such a ban and made it clear on its website ahead of the tour dates that the bracelets were welcome.
According to Tiffany Olson, a trend expert for online resale marketplace Mercari, the search for "Taylor Swift friendship bracelets" jumped by 1,338% on its site since the tour started.
"For Swifties, trading friendship bracelets has become a memorable part of The Eras Tour experience and, as a result, a super hot item on Mercari," she said.
The website currently has hundreds of bracelet options available with multi-packs with anywhere from three-100 bracelets selling for $5 to $170, but it could take 3-4 days to receive your order. Other popular searches on the site included "Taylor Swift Eras," which increased by 644% and "Taylor Swift Merch," that was up by 53%. Olson also shared that the most popular Taylor Swift items bought are her vinyl records.
As Swift extended the North American run of her Eras Tour into 2024, fans can still pick up bracelets for those fall shows on the East Coast, Midwest and up in Canada.
"The Mercari community is full of Swifties that are excited to exchange bracelets and other tour merch with other fans," Olson said. "The beauty of buying and selling these items secondhand is that fans can bond over their shared appreciation for Taylor's music, find one-of-a-kind handmade bracelets, which aren't available elsewhere, and pass on items for someone else to use."