It isn’t hard to see how the hipster culture has infiltrated the mainstream fashion in New York, especially when it comes to the way men are grooming themselves and their facial hair. Looking reminiscent of Victorian gentleman or New England lumberjacks, men on the streets from Soho to Williamsburg are wearing full beards, moustaches and chiseled goatees, and turning their backs on the previous trend that was metrosexual conformity. Old world shapes and styles revive a sense of masculinity that is refined and sophisticated while being commanding and distinctive, much like the images of lost explorers from the 1800’s. Are these men also out to explore a new frontier of masculine values through the urban jungle of a modern digital age?
Fully fledged mainstream fashion labels like Ben Sherman, H&M and French Connection are using full bearded models in their latest campaigns that depict an image of manhood and masculinity that is rough and manly, yet relaxed and worn in. The days of magazine pages covered with youthful, clear skinned boy scouts who could shave with a towel seem to be numbered, giving way to a more mature image of a man who is both stylish and self assured in ways that that we have not seen for some time. On the fashion runways, designers have moved towards men with different facial hair variations – everything from unkempt stubble to neatly trimmed moustache and fully grown beards that fit perfectly with the upcoming collections that are layered with texture and depth.
Beards have done a 360-degree cycle, having once been relegated to history as part of the 70’s post-hippy culture (think Burt Reynolds, Kris Kristofferson, John Lennon) that gave way to the buffed, smooth ‘Adonis-like’ icons of the 80’s. Rarely has it been truly acceptable to wear a beard in a corporate surrounding, indicating a move towards freedom of expression, artistic inclination and a backlash against ultra conservative values and economic woes. Gay or straight alike, men are reclaiming a masculinity that was diluted by the merging of the sexes through the ‘Unisex’ 90’s and the ‘Metro’ millennium to redefine an identity that is based on a belief rather than a trend.
Beards are distinctly masculine, primal and sexy, and men are discovering that they bring a whole new dimension to their looks as well.