WHEN BARBERSHOPS closed early in lockdown, men wishing to avoid tragic DIY cuts had two options: Buzz their locks or let them flourish. With no in-person meetings, those who chose the latter could hide the awkward in-between phase and nurture their mops from the safety of home. In time, glorious manes grew. And lots of men liked what they saw.
As the U.S. reopens, plenty of once-cropped corporate types are opting to keep their flowing tresses. Soon enough, men with a passing resemblance to apostles, rock stars and Beat poets could populate boardrooms.
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Audrey Hootman, owner of Talc + Tonic, a Chicago salon with a corporate-leaning clientele, reported a recent uptick in long-haired patrons aged 26 to 36. And when Takamichi Saeki reopened his Manhattan salon in mid- 2020, about 60% of his customers—including lawyers and bankers, even ones in their 60s—came in with collar-brushing hair. Of those, “more than half” have kept things long—and many have requested Brad Pitt’s shag.
While some men find maintaining long styles a time suck—more hair equals more strands to misbehave—others argue the opposite. Mr. Saeki said long cuts need a trim every two to three months as opposed to monthly for shorter styles. He suggests washing and conditioning every two or three days and then using hair cream and oil—or matte wax for a slicked-back look—to sweep hair off the face.
Fredric Cibelli, 44, a partner at Ernst & Young in New York, finds his chin-length ’do easier to manage than a short-back-and-sides. When styling, he combs it and tucks it behind his ears, sometimes with a dab of wax. “It’s not a whole rigmarole every morning.”
Nostalgia and long hair’s ability to let one express one’s identity can increase the appeal. Before Covid, Ian Mack, 31, a corporate lawyer in New York, hadn’t worn blond surfer waves since backpacking around the world in 2014. Long hair reminds him “of that person I used to be.”
For Ernie Suggs, 54, growing an Afro signaled a return to childhood and made him feel “more in tune with who I am as a Black man.” When dressing up, the Atlanta reporter runs a defining cream through his gray-streaked Afro and picks it out “as high as it will go.” Citing Afro-wearers including his mom, philosopher Cornel West and Prince as inspiration, he said he’s moved by “the power of this cultural phenomenon that only Black people can experience.”
Mr. Cibelli and Mr. Mack said their grown-out locks’ future will depend on how the coming months play out. Mr. Cibelli anticipates his office dress- and grooming-code will be “more relaxed” than it was pre-Covid. Early signs support that. A recent survey of over 1,000 Americans by fintech company Klarna revealed that nearly 50% plan on wearing “more comfortable” clothes in the office than they did pre-pandemic. That is to say, there’s a good chance the post-lockdown office will undo its top button and, ahem, let its hair down.
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