Yes It Is
‘The thing about beards, is that they can’t just be judged as things. As objects. It’s impossible to separate beard ownership from some kind of context or affectation or affiliation. Look at it this way: if you observed a high-spec Ferrari rev its way through central London’s gridlocked afternoon traffic, would you stop to admire the car’s finely crafted contours? Or would you just think: ‘what a knobhead’? Not that beard owners are knobs – they’re generally not – but my point is that you judge the beard as more of a statement on the owner than a thing in its own right.
So what is it that beards are saying about their owners then? Right now, in 2018, nothing good. In 2011, beards were the zeitgeisty signifier of a new creative class – millennial men who favoured an independent and entrepreneurial ethos, men who leaned towards niche and craft over chain and commercial. But then the hipster thing happened. And hipsterism became a tool marketers could use, and beards were integral to this. Before we really realised what was going on, Asda started stocking craft beer, and Wetherspoons listed brioche-bunned pulled pork on their menus, and Debenhams was selling heritage gentleman’s grooming products and the brand identity for all of these things was pretty much just a bloke with a beard. Then you look around the tube and it’s full of 50 year olds mourning their lost collective youth with beards. And Corbyn’s got one. And Ben Shephard’s got a little one. And just like that. Just. Like. That.’
– Dan Copley, Brand Editor
No It’s Not
‘Nobody has ever asked me why I have a beard but if they did I would lie to them because the reason I have it is that I am unattractive without one. My girlfriend, who has never seen me clean-shaven (must never see me clean-shaven), is convinced that I am an attractive person but she is sadly mistaken. This is because my beard is not a trendy statement, it’s a hairy mask. It’s not decorative, it’s functional.
Of course I’m not saying my girlfriend would leave me if she saw me without a beard, just that she’d find another excuse shortly afterwards. It wouldn’t be because my face is weird it would be because I rarely leave my flat voluntarily or that I’m not a very good person. She’s a good woman but nobody can put up with the kind of long term deception that wearing a permanent attractive person costume entails.
That’s not to say that the only people with beards have them because they too are pulling a long con. Men have beards for plenty of reasons that include, but are not limited to:
These are all legitimate reasons to step away from the razor. But ultimately it comes down to the simple fact that some people just look better with a beard, so they’ll grow one whether some ‘trend forecaster’ tells them to on a blog or not.
Really the only reason that someone would say the beard is over is because they’re the kind of style imperialist who is sequestered in an ivory tower somewhere in East London deciding, seemingly at random, that this thing is now Bad and this other thing is now Good. These fashion fascists, these jackbooted trend thugs with their expensive haircuts and silly trainers are just the kind of sneering elitists who see too many people enjoying something and want to ruin it.
But, by seeing beards as a ‘trend’, they’re missing the point. Although beards are obviously involved in fashion they’re not really a trend. A certain kind of haircut is a trend but having hair isn’t – in the same way certain kinds of beards, specifically the insanely large ones with curly moustaches, aren’t on trend but having a beard is just, well, having a beard. If men look good with one they’ll grow one, if they don’t they won’t and no journalist or forecaster or ‘thought leader’ will be able to convince them otherwise.’
– Jacob Corner, Editor