Male grooming has never been more important, this is certain. In fact, this has been an on-going trend for the past few years due to changing attitudes and culture. This shift in trend though, has been further perpetuated by the recent COVID-19 isolation.
Of course the global pandemic has been detrimental, but if there has been one area that has benefitted from it, it’s the plethora of experimentation within male grooming. Never in recent memory have men not been required to go to work, and it’s been fabulous for male creativity as men have been growing out their hair and beards in wild and wonderful ways.
The male grooming industry is ecstatic about this too, especially one of the most prominent and influential brands, American Crew Founder, David Raccuglia started his iconic company in a bleak and bland world of male grooming during the 90’s. Times have changed and Raccuglia must surely be happy with the result.
“I always align our (American Crew’s) vision with what is influential in male grooming at the time. I ask myself, what is the new man? What’s the emotional journey of why they groom? That’s the template for me to understanding modern culture men and why they groom. In the 90s, we were lucky if a man would use grooming products at all, as it was seen as feminine, but now the industry is on fire and guys are no longer restricted to one look.”
Which areas of male grooming trends are changing? There are a few notable styles that men are embracing, which they are doing by seizing the rare opportunity to grow hair longer than usual. Since the need for showing up to work well suited and groomed is no longer necessary, many are growing their barnet longer than their normal length. Men’s hair is looking more and more unruly and disheveled, but not in the way you might expect, this once frowned upon style has taken a more tasteful reinvention. For many, this is finally an excuse to experiment in ways they never could before under the formal guidelines of the past. It doesn’t stop there though!
As aforementioned, men are getting seriously creative and are challenging general stereotypes in ways that subversive. We are seeing all kinds of styles that are blossoming, such as coloured and bleached hair. Acclaimed barber, Gary Mckenzie, has ran prestigious salons in Australia’s, South Yarra for decades. This is what he thinks on the recent shift in experimentation, “Colour and bleaching is one home trend that guys are daring to give a go and while not well done at home, it has given more men the confidence to continue to experiment with colour with their stylists” That’s a great word to describe this zeitgeist in male grooming, ‘daring’!
One revived style that many can appreciate is the resurrection of the mullet and buzz cuts. Men no longer feel shame and embarrassment to wear otherwise looked down upon styles and the result is brilliant. Often styles are spawned ahead of their time or they’re catered in an un-tasteful manner and so we see them seldom in popular culture but now we are starting to seem them re- emerge in a more refined way.
Up-and-coming barber, Luke Munn, has recently made a name for himself in the industry by winning the global American Crew All Star challenge; Munn also finds these interesting, “There have been some interesting trends emerging from lockdown. But the two biggest are home job buzzcuts and mullets. In Australia the mullet has always been a bit of an icon but I think it’s making a big comeback in 2020. It’s across all different social groups now.”
It is worth questioning if the COVID isolation styles that we are seeing are men harnessing a nihilistic attitude towards male grooming. However, it is worth observing that perhaps men are just embracing their natural, hairy masculinity. It appears that men are using this opportunity to re-invent themselves, in a way that they never imagined. This recent period of lockdown has inspired men to become more creative in their appearance, but can we expect men in the post-COVID era to have refined or retained this curiosity? It is yet to be seen but this is certainly an exciting era for male grooming and the industry could not be more happy!