Zack Morris, is that you?
You’d be forgiven if you mistook that good-looking blonde-haired hipster standing in front of you at the coffee shop for your favourite former Saved by the Bell heartthrob. Because, when it comes to men’s hairstyles, the ’90s are definitely back.
“It’s so true that what goes around comes back around, but never quite in the same way,” Antonio Palumbo, a senior stylist with Suki’s in Vancouver, says. “The middle-part — think young Leonardo DiCaprio — is having its moment, and blonde top highlights are back as well.”
Palumbo says that while the looks may appear similar at first glance, it’s the techniques used to create them that render them different — and more modern — than the first time around.
“There is a lot of disconnect in the cuts and a bit more texture than in the 90s,” he explains. “And instead of the classic Backstreet Boys frosted tips, the blonde highlights on top are smoother and more blended.”
Perhaps the biggest style story of the year is the ongoing popularity of the “fade.”
Vancouver rapper Sonreal sports the popular fade. Handout
The style, which sees a closer shave beginning near the neck that gradually gets longer toward the top of the head where a plume of carefully coiffed hair proudly perches, has been a favourite in recent years among many A-list celebrities and music stars alike including Macklemore, Adam Levine of Maroon 5 and B.C.’s own hip-hop star SonReal.
And it’s not forecasted to go anywhere anytime soon.
“For men with short hair, this is one of the easiest ways to update your look,” Palumbo says. “By using a tight fade on the sides, you’re creating a shape and shadow to your hair.”
Looking for a source of hair inspiration that doesn’t feel quite so, well, youthful? Stylists say you don’t have to, because the season’s popular fades and undercuts can still work for you.
“The classic haircuts that we have been seeing transcend age,” says Matty Conrad, Schwarzkopf Professional Essential Looks Artist and owner of Victory Barber & Brand.” They look great on any age range.”
Conrad says older men should consider getting a version of the on-trend styles that are a bit more “conservative” than younger men such as by opting for a more graduated fade.
“We all have hairstyles in our past that we are nostalgic about, but it never looks was good as it did when we were younger,” Conrad cautions of the familiar styles. “Our hair texture changes, the colour changes, and the density changes. Even if you got an identical haircut 25 years after you first had it — it would look different.”
Case in point: former soccer star David Beckham, who has inspired his fair share of online appreciation for his carefully constructed coif throughout the years. Where he started shaggy, long and ultra-blonde during his footballer days, he has since graduated to a long-on-top style in a more natural hue.
But it’s not Beckham who can claim the top hair in Hollywood, according to Conrad. But rather it’s Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds who takes the title, beating out his twenty-something celebrity counterparts with famous coifs such as Justin Bieber and Zayn Malik.
Actor Ryan Reynolds. Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
“His hair embodies that effortlessly cool vibe that made James Dean famously handsome,” Conrad reasons. And the 40-year-old’s subtle grey-around-the-temples colour hits another top trend of 2017, one that allows those who embrace the it to be appreciatively referred to as a Silver Fox.
“While most men still prefer natural hair colour, silver/grey is big right now,” Palumbo says. “Colouring their hair is too much up-keep for most men, so most choose just to work with what they have got.
“And it doesn’t hurt that celebs like George Clooney are keeping the whole Silver Fox look alive and well.”
But while the fades and undercuts have been sweeping through barbershops around the world — and subsequently showing up on social media feeds and red carpets, alike — they have stirred ups some criticism for appearing too similar to the style favoured by German troops in the Second World War.
When asked about this comparison, Conrad called it, “ridiculous.”
“It was most notably famous in the 1940’s … (but) men in almost every country were wearing the same style, it wasn’t just in Germany,” he says of the cut. Rather, Conrad says the latest iteration of the look has played a key role in revitalizing the men’s haircutting industry as we know it.
“The modern undercut first became popular in 2010,” he explains. “And it was one of the early classic styles that sparked the barbering resurgence.”
Conrad says it’s this revival of traditional men’s haircutting techniques that has allowed guys to take a more active — and adventurous — approach to their hair.
“I think that men are taking their hair a lot more seriously than they have in the past,” Conrad says. “Women have always been bombarded with fashion and trends by countless magazines. But last year for the first time ever, Google stated that men’s hair was searched more times that women’s hair.”
He says the classic haircuts and “old-school sensibilities” of barbershops and grooming have led to a hyper-masculine style in recent years. This, in part, is surely thanks to the popularity of big beards.
“The beard has flourished,” Conrad says. “About six dozen beard-specific product lines hit the shelves, 10,000 Instagram pages all about beards launched, and people learned the meaning of the word ‘pogonophile’ (an admirer or student of beards, in case you didn’t know).”
So, are beards here to stay? According to Conrad, they are.
“While I think that beards are definitely in decline as far as being the peak of hipster fashion, they are still incredibly popular in the mainstream,” he says. “I don’t think they are going away soon.”