Friday, August 19, 2011

The Hair Paradox

To be hairy or not to be hairy, that’s the question. It’s an urban myth that only women are vain, men are vain too, only their means of expression are different. Take for instance facial hair, it offers an excellent opportunity to mark that you are a unique and interesting person. Facial hair can even be a means of identity, how many beard styles are not named after a famous person that wore it? I.e. the Clark Gable pencil moustache. Beard-styles are of all times.
Intelligent Life, Summer 2011, Moustaches

In the not so distant past men that worked in offices had clean shaven faces; proving they where clean and hygienic, taking good care of themselves. The clean shaven face being a symbol of neatness and civilization.

But recently facial hair has become a real statement; famous is the full unkempt Buddha beard of Rick Rubin, music industry executive at Sony. It says “even though I’m an executive I don’t have to act like one; I’m actually a laid back relaxed hippie”. The full beard has recently become more and more popular; it’s a sign of the so-called menaissance, men demanding back masculinity, the right to be a real man.
Rick Rubin

Paradoxically in parallel at the same time body-hair is disappearing, maybe fuelled by the Philips body groomer? At least body-hair for men for the moment seems to be going through the same eradication that facial hair went through earlier. You show up with body hair in the shower after sports, then you are a not taking good care of yourself, not cultivating your body.

So the wearing of hair for men seems to have been turned upside-down, we are now going through the phase of smooth body and lots of facial hair. The question is if and when it will turn around again? The popularity of Mad Men and their neat and smooth faces together with the recent reports of the rise of the male barber salons suggests that we might be going towards taking removing facial really serious and the rebirth of the barber rituals as a moment for men to treat themselves, and recent numbers show that the barber-business is thriving in the shrinking economy.

Mad Men

F.S.C. Barber on Horatio Street in the West Village.
Joshua Bright for New York Times

One thing is for sure men are taking their appearance dead serious and the opportunity for brands to grow to really serve the genuine needs of men in this area is big, don’t forget that under all that hair there is a skin that is crying for attention and treatment too.

Published in edited form in Philips New Value News, August, in Design Trends
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