The History of Lanyards: From Origins to The Modern Day

Lanyards are now a familiar sight in all walks of life, and most of us have probably worn them at one time or another. They are used within all kinds of businesses and are also a feature of many different events, even sometimes becoming collectors’ items, but do you know where they come from?

It is believed that the humble lanyard could have a history that dates back centuries, so we thought it would be fun to look back at where the lanyard comes from and how it has evolved over the years.

The early beginnings of lanyards

The French word for strap is “laniere”, which is where it is thought the term lanyard originates from. Originally, this was something that was used to lower objects onto ships, and it was first used as a personal tool in the early part of the 16th century.

Much like today, these straps were used to help people hold onto important items, but rather than identity cards, flash drives and pens, the French soldiers that fashioned them used them for keeping whistles, pipes, knives, swords and other weapons in check while they climbed the rigging of a ship or as they travelled around.

This meant that both hands could be kept free, whether they were needed to steady themselves, perform other tasks or even stand and fight.

Gradually, these practical items began to take on a more decorative appearance, with different types of rope being used, more intricate braiding coming into play, and colours starting to make an appearance.

These straps were usually made out of some form of rope, and there is often homage to this in modern day military uniforms. You will usually see some form of braided rope component over the shoulder which these days is used to signify a qualification or affiliation depending on the style or colour.

Children’s crafts

Very little changed in the world of lanyards until the 1950s, when they became craft items to keep children entertained. Making lanyards taught children in the US and France how to craft knots like the triangle and box knots. At this time, it was known as “boondoggle” or “scoubidou” and this practice continued until the mid-2000s when it was discovered by British children who began using plastic strips in creating the knots.

Today’s lanyards

Lanyards are now very much a feature of modern life, as they are employed in all sorts of businesses and organisations. As they are customisable, businesses are able to use them as part of their branding efforts, helping to show their name to the world and create a sense of community amongst the staff who wear them.

Of course, they also have a practical purpose. They are used to help employees to carry essential tools to help them do their jobs, much like those 16th century soldiers. However, these days the items are a little less lethal, and can help them to be easily identified, gain access to different areas of the business and prevent tools and keys from getting lost.

Whilst they are commonly used in offices, manufacturing sites and retail environments, their practicality has made them something that is even put to good use in a home office. Not only are they worn during video calls to continue to show off the company branding, but they are also still proving to be just as handy as they always were for keeping highlighters, phones and keys somewhere that they can be easily found.

Lanyards have evolved from their rope origins, and now use a number of different materials. These often involve strong threads made from things such as nylon, polyester and polypropylene, although there is also a shift to more natural fabrics such as silk. In order to be more sustainable, many lanyard manufacturers are now also making good use of recycled materials in their products in order to reduce the number of resources that are needed to make them.

Fashionable lanyards

One place where lanyards have been seen a lot is as a part of different iconic festivals and concerts. Gone are the days where your tickets would be printed on paper and then be easily lost or destroyed – now everything is digital, and the card held on your lanyard around your neck is what will get you through the turnstiles with minimal hassle. As lanyards can be fully customised, each one bears the branding of the festival it was part of, and so they have started to become an essential souvenir for many people.

This has also become true of sporting events that have begun to issue lanyards to fans and sponsors to denote which area they should be in.

These lanyards are kept and often hung up at home to allow people to be able to say, “I was there”.

As a result, a number of fashion houses have even made them part of their collections, with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Public School, Versace, Armani, Michael Kors and Patrick Everell, all putting them on their runways over the last few years as practical tools for the fashion conscious. These have been made from all sorts of materials including cord and leather. As such, many people now personalise their lanyards, adding badges, sequins and clips to theirs in order to still express their own sense of style.

The future of lanyards

Having been around for this amount of time, it is hard to imagine that the lanyard is going anywhere. However, it remains to be seen how it will continue to evolve. New manufacturing processes can now help them to innovate even further in order to improve their quality and versatility whilst also making them a more sustainable and environmentally friendly choice.

Lanyards might seem to have been a relatively new phenomenon, but their history actually dates back much further than most people would imagine. This just goes to show what useful little tools they can be, to still remain so popular even hundreds of years after they were first invented.

Order lanyards today!

Lanyards have had numerous uses throughout history, so why not purchase lanyards for your needs? With a range of pre-designed products, we can also offer lanyards personalisation with our custom lanyard designer. With other products such as wristbands, ribbons and more, you can get in touch with our team if you require any additional information.

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