Men with Afro hair are also keeping their lockdown locks. “People are growing their hair out but it’s how you do it,” says Howe. “Lots of men have looked at themselves after lockdown and said, ‘Yeah it looks great’ and have decided to keep it.” According to Howe, the key to making the ‘Grow Out’ look work is to pay particular attention to the hairline and having it shaped up to leave a clean and tidy line, while wearing the rest of the hair with a textured, broken up look by twisting it with the fingers or using a curl sponge for extra texture and shape. “If you just let it grow out with no shape or nothing really going on then it can look a bit messy. But if you have it lined up along the neckline and have a strong outline then you’re showing people that you’re looking after yourself. You look cleaner, you feel better.”
He cites The Weeknd as a prime example of how to make this look elegant and stylish: “He has it textured with a curl sponge so that it’s broken up into little curls. You can see that it has a smart outline and has the rest of it grown out.”
Changes in society, particularly in matters of racial justice that have taken place over the past two years are being felt in how black men express themselves with their hair, particularly in the workplace. “I think there’s been a thing over the years especially with Afro hair, that unless it’s short, neat and tidy that it’s not suitable for work. Even braids or dreadlocks were previously considered messy but people are now just going for it and so you’re seeing braver and braver looks.”
The one thing all of these hairstyles have in common is that they require a certain level of commitment, whether in terms of simply letting the hair grow out or making a big personal statement about yourself. Bright bold pops of colour are yet more evidence of this new, wild mood in men’s hair. “Society feels quite fractured at the moment,” says Mills. “We’ve had a long period
where we’ve been told what to do so it feels like there’s a punk mood in the air, and one of the ways in which you can stick two fingers is to go for a really wild dye job.”
The lime green dye-job that Frank Ocean sported at last year’s Met Gala coordinated with the animatronic puppet that wore pieces from his ‘Homer jewellery line, perhaps reflects the strange and discombobulated times in which we live. After all, Ocean is an unusually mild-mannered and low key R&B singer-songwriter known more for his simple black and white ‘normcore’ Prada ensembles.
Kanye West, who is rarely seen without some kind of bleached or rainbow-hued hair colour, perhaps more than any artist today, has long revelled in this new discordant mood both in his fashion and music. “After being locked down people feel like being drastic, and colour is definitely a part of that,” says Howe. “Even with mullets, I’ve seen some in crazy blues, turquoise and bleached blondes, which definitely give more definition to those looks.
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