In March 2015, the Somerset House will showcase the beard trend by exhibiting a full series of 80 photographic works of people sporting different styles of facial hair.
These days, beards aren't just a thing for hipsters anymore. In fact, if the upcoming exhibition "Beard" at London's Somerset House is any indication, it looks like the 19th century farmer/fisherman’s look isn't just gaining steam, but cultural legitimacy as well.
The beard became a proud symbol of masculinity, that you can wear on your face, for the whole world to see. A whole new area of self-expression, where men can display their individuality through architectural grooming, a trend in male grooming that is already shifting consumer spend.
The reality is that the hipster beard has become common not just in the UK but across Europe. Indeed so significant is the trend that manufacturers of shaving products have noted a significant decline in sales and have switched to producing care preparations for the hirsute such as beard oils.
Before beards became broadly fashionable in recent years, the metrosexual, barefaced look prevailed in our fashion icons during the 1990s/2000s — from pre-teen Justin Timberlake, to the OC tv show— a trend that literally caused the inner “cavemen” spirit to make a huge comeback.
Men no longer associate being clean-shaven with being well-groomed, with 42% admitting they don’t enjoy shaving and put it off for as long as possible. Men are changing their shopping habits as the popularity of facial hair grows. This beard-led growth in the male grooming market has seen an increase in dedicated men’s brands with clever, attractive branding.
For example the “Haarbarbaar” in Amsterdam, which sells facial and haircare products, and now opened their second store in Amsterdam alongside their salon in concept department store Hutspot.
Models for the series come from all over the world, range in ages, and include notable characters like actor John Hurt, models Ricki Hall and Billy Huxley, SOHO tattooist Miles Better, and British bearded woman Harnaam Kaur, who has been growing facial hair since she was a teenager, after being diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition which causes excess hair growth in women.
There is still much work to do in promoting positive images of the hirsute in society and encouraging the trend to diversity in how people dress and appear that beards can be a part of. Hopefully the Somerset House exhibition will mark 2015 as a year when not only beards but tolerance of beards grows further.
"Beard" at Somerset House will be open to the public from 5 - 29 March, 2015.