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RETURN OF THE BEARD –
INTERVIEW WITH WILL IN FINANCIAL TIMES

William Higham, of the trend-forecasting agency Next Big Thing, believes the beard is a reaction against the idea of the metrosexual, “but without going back to a very macho world. It expresses a need to break away from the humdrum existence of sitting at desks in front of computers.” …

Grooming expert Carmelo Guastella, creative director of the London spa for men, Melogy, has noticed something about a growing number of his clients: they’re getting hairier. “The more people are out of employment, the more ready they are to grow a beard,” he says. “It’s the holiday syndrome: no commitments to the corporate world gives them the opportunity. A professional shave is the first step to getting back into the professional mindset.”

The return of the fuzzy face not only chimes with the recession, but it also makes a statement about a change in values. “The beard suggests freedom and independence. It’s a small act of rebellion,” says Guastella. “And I think every man has felt the urge to grow a beard at some time in his life – it’s an outward expression of masculinity.”

The beard expresses renewed favour towards a more primal attitude to life. As the 17th-century philosopher, John Bulwer, put it: men who shave, “aim at nothing less than to become lesser men”.

William Higham, of the trend-forecasting agency Next Big Thing, believes the beard is a reaction against the idea of the metrosexual, “but without going back to a very macho world. It expresses a need to break away from the humdrum existence of sitting at desks in front of computers.”

No wonder the beard is being embraced by the fashion and entertainment worlds. The model featured in the recent TV campaign for Diesel’s new fragrance is as buff as ever, but this time he has a beard.

Early last year, a poster campaign for H&M featured a bushy face, while the catwalk shows for this spring/summer saw more than a few whiskers from Paul Smith, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana.

And George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe and Daniel Day-Lewis are all increasingly hirsute, Pitt and Clooney even sporting a moustache.

Among the employed, the beard has become the marker between those employed in creative industry and those in the more formal working world. “Perhaps we are entering a new era in which the beard will become acceptable,” says Rosemary Williams, accreditation director of the Federation of Image Consultants. “But there is a good reason why the Hollywood stereotype of a down-and-out has a beard: it’s indicative of lower social status, just as a clean shave is of power and position.”

Indeed, if ancient civilisations equated the beard with sagacity and nobility, modern civilisations appear to equate it with a lack of hygiene. In recent years IKEA, Waitrose and Disney have been among companies expressing a preference for their staff to be beard-free. Guastella notes that hairstyles for men in traditional business sectors are becoming more adventurous, suggesting perhaps that the beard may follow. But, according to Williams, to be clean-shaven remains the norm in more establishment workplaces for much the same reason as the suit and tie remain uniform.

“Business has protocols of behaviour and appearance that foster mutual trust and it’s very hard to let go of them,” says Jennifer Aston, director of Aston & Hayes, a personal brand coaching company working with executives from Credit Suisse, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and KPMG.

“It is changing, slowly, mimicking the worlds of media and academia, in which styling yourself so as to not to be a clone is equally important.”



View original article in The Financial Times by Josh Sims: https://next.ft.com/content/b73eb0ae-d6c7-11dd-9bf7-000077b07658