Thanks to popular culture, men are often perceived as commitment phobes! Thought there might be some truth to it, by and large men are interested in being married – to their jobs, to their bikes and of late, to their beards! If this was a mushy-mushy post and are disappointed by the content so far, it’s on you-read the title, dummy! Anyway, back to marriage-men are committed to their jobs, to their life goals and yes, to their beards! So, think twice before calling ANY man a commitment phobe!
To get to the root of this, we have to start the conversation with two words – Alpha male! Maybe it’s the influence of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book in India and whatever weird documentary Richard Attenborough is a part of across the world, wolves and men are often compared. What is even weirder is, in the US, where frat boys are frowned upon and individualism is often celebrated, this term has taken centre stage; surely men who ‘hunt’ in packs stand against the philosophy of individualism? No? Way to be kicked off the high horse, eh?
Anyway, men who exhibit leadership qualities ideally need to be compared with a lion, not a wolf – (sure, it won’t suit you if you follow Game of Thrones but in life, you gotta admit it is a better analogy!) The lion fights, takes down his rivals and above all, safeguards his pride (pun intended). It makes even better sense to compare a bearded man with a lion. After all, there is a ‘man’ in mane. (Wordplay, anyone?)
Trends among urban males
Let’s face it, most trends start with the urban males! After all, they are the lions of the concrete jungles! Trends like No Shave November originated in major cities aka metros across the world and then, sooner or later the rest of them caught up with them when they started to buy cosmetics online. This is not an isolated phenomenon. Sporting beards also falls in the same category: once the male celebrities in Hollywood and Bollywood started rocking bad-ass beards (yes, George Clooney and Hrithik Roshan), it was only a matter of time before the other lions caught up. (See how the ‘alpha males’ phrase was sidestepped!) Also urban males are the ones who check out the icons before they buy cosmetic products online.
The Beard Rocking 1980s
It’s surprising how a director like Quentin Tarantino could hate hippies (Yes, watch ‘Once upon a Time in Hollywood’) after hippies and hillbillies have given him some of the best soundtracks for his movies which he probably got a good bargain for, considering how hippies never cared about ownership. Biting the hand that feeds you, eh Quentin?
Moving on, the rock n roll culture was instrumental in creating beardos out of men. While rock n roll might not be back in the truest sense yet, there are glimpses with ‘Greta van Fleet’ rocking the music scene across the world. The question here though – is Rock n Roll bringing back beards or are beards bringing back Rock n Roll?
Beards, Fashion and Functionality
There is, of course, the more obvious functional aspect of beards – look at the captain of the Football Club, Real Madrid, Sergio Ramos: with a beard he looks like a hunk and without it, he looks like a man child! (No, a Barca fan did not write this!) Heck, he is not alone. There are plenty of men who look weird without a beard. (It rhymes because it’s true!) Let’s euphemize that: there are plenty of men who would look a lot better with a beard than without it!
Then, there are professions where sporting a beard is considered good, ideal even. If a 22 year old genius is going to teach a business class or law for that matter, he better be rocking a beard lest he get pushed around by his students. Forget geniuses, even curators of art or art professors would be better off with a beard.
The growing number of beard related products
A research survey conducted by Google and Facebook has revealed that men contribute almost 50% of the traffic to beauty websites. This is a recent trend. While this can be partially contributed to the ecosystem of content creators and consumers besides the lockdown during the pandemic, there is one more reason: yes, beards!
If you are growing a beard, you need a beard softener, you need some essential oils to make sure the skin underneath your beard is not scratchy and stays smooth. Once you have a man hooked to a certain beauty product, it is only a matter of time before you start selling him the face wash, the body wash and the shower gel. What’s more, he might even become interested in face creams and/or moisturizers because cold affects, well, everyone and you could use a little lotion on your forearms palms and wrist. In other words, cross selling is in and men are ‘buying’ what the beauty companies are selling, both products and their advertising copies!
Will beards still be ‘in’ moving forward
Every beauty brand is including a ‘men’ category thanks to marketing research indicating the said target group’s interest. And every top brand has started to produce beard related products, which means that they would continue to create ads, blogs and what is required to show that beards are still in. The products are just entering the growth phase, There is still the maturity and decline phases remaining which will take a good 10 years or so to reach. So, in a word, yes, beards will be trending for quite a few years going forward. And it will not only be because men want to seem like lions but also because the investments from beauty brands betting on this trend is so huge, they will keep it going.
Whatever the future brings, the present day still belongs to the stubbles, zz tops, handlebars, chevrons, painters brushes and your zappas! If you’re sporting a slick beard, it’s important to nurture and protect it, care for it, pamper it and get ready for whatever battles are headed your way tomorrow!