Beard or no beard?
Earlier this week, The Scotsman reported that the beard trend, favoured in hipster circles and seen across fashion, is over. Quoting tweets posted by model Christopher John Millington, the article states that fashion is moving on and leaving beards behind.
Millington made his name in 2013 after being spotted and has since been seen in campaigns for Topman, River Island and Reiss, even launching a brand of beard oil. Both he and the director of his agency, Established Models, are clear in their assertions that the beard is no longer a unique characteristic sought by brands. The demand for beards may be passing by, but beyond the shifting sands of fashion trends, it’s a look which will continue.
The beard is socially and culturally significant, inferring status and masculinity. When well-groomed and fashion-influenced, beards imply fastidiousness and the means (financially) to maintain the look. Ancient civilisations also held the beard in prominence as a marker of power, loaded with symbolism and meaning visible in some of the most iconic and influential figures across history: Genghis Khan, Abraham Lincoln, Karl Marx, or Charles Darwin.
Threats of its demise as a fashion trend keep waxing and waning. In April last year, an article published in The Guardian said the death knell had been rung for the beard, having seemingly then reached the peak of its popularity. An industry has grown around facial hair, with an expansion in products and their availability increased, complementing specialised services. In addition, the geographic reach of the trend has moved outside cities and into provincial areas.
Regardless of fashion trends, there are men who look fantastic with or without facial hair, be it longer stubble, or a full beard, take George Clooney or Jake Gyllenhaal.
Whilst others look great clean-shaven, think Christian Bale and Thierry Henry. But beauty really is in the eye of the beholder and style is an individual decision and as Chris Millington said: “Guys aren’t going to start shaving their beards off just because fashion doesn’t need them any more. Well, at least I wouldn’t expect them to.”
Echoing Chris Millington’s sentiments, fashion trends change and are cyclic, they don’t have to dictate what you enjoy, and beards aren’t going away any time soon. Fashion trend or not, it’s all a personal choice.