Hot fuzz: The Rise of the Hipster Beard

Hipster beards have been a staple on catwalks this season, but when did facial hair become ironic, asks Abid Rahman

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 March, 2013, 10:33am

With girlfriend jeans, hobo chic and ironic tattoos becoming mainstream, the male hipster phenomenon already has a lot to answer for. But the most surprising style trend spawned from hipster-ism is the renaissance of the full beard.

From fashion week to the Oscars, the big beard has taken over the runway as much as it has impressionable young men's faces. Notable recent wearers of big beards include "crazy period" Joaquin Phoenix and Brad Pitt.

An almost biblical beard could have won the best director Oscar for Argo this year, if the Academy wasn't so anti-hipster that it overlooked Ben Affleck. Don't worry, Affleck found solace in the arms of his beard twin George Clooney, who was sporting a lovely salt and pepper number as they both picked up the Oscar for best film.

So what's behind all this? Is it a backlash against girly looking men such as Justin Bieber and the pretty boys from One Direction? Or are men just becoming lazy with grooming?

The point of the hipster-inspired beard is that it is supposedly anti-fashion. So that makes it doubly ironic.

Did the hipsters of Brooklyn grow beards as a show of solidarity with their Hasidic neighbours? Or are men simply becoming men again?

The truth, sadly, is more mundane. Like Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and mullets, the hipster beard trend all started from a warped sense of fashionable irony, a supposed penchant for all things blue collar. But just because a trend started for stupid reasons (note the Harlem Shake and Gangnam Style) doesn't mean we can't all have fun with it.

We are not talking about an ordinary beard or, for that matter, some fashionable facial hair. Bushy, unkempt and allowed to roam free on your face, the hipster beard is the very antithesis of a well-groomed and waxed moustache. The point of the hipster-inspired beard is that it is supposedly anti-fashion. So that makes it doubly ironic that it is now fashionable, and it leaves you wondering whether that cancels out the original irony.

In the fashion world, a quick comb through the last two menswear seasons shows that things are getting hairier. The autumn-winter 2013 menswear shows were notable for the number of beards, with Paul Smith and Ralph Lauren, among many others, featuring models in cosy facial hair.

A beard for the autumn and winter might make sense, but they feature in summer collection shows, too.

Jean Paul Gaultier's spring-summer 2013 looks are replete with hairy visages, along with a touch of Indian cool.

Yohji Yamamoto's show was notorious for models looking bruised, battered and beardy. Flick through the lookbooks for Berluti, J.Crew, Oliver Spencer, and Iter Hominis and it's pretty hard to miss the message.

In Shakespeare's farce, Much Ado About Nothing, noted beardie Shakespeare wrote: "He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man."

So go forth, put the razor away and let it all grow out, at least until the hipster porno moustache goes mainstream.

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