Barbershop Blog


March 16, 2021

It is widely accepted that trends in men’s hairstyles are first popularised by celebrities and influencers. The adoption then spreads through the mainstream and eventually down to the fringes and alternates of society. In reality, most hairstyle trends emerge from within the underground cultures and the flow of adoption spreads from there.

How Underground Culture Effects Mainstream Hairstyles
Firstly, let’s take a look at what the term underground culture, or simply underground means. 

The term "underground" is derived from a long history of resistance movements where the resisters operated out of plain sight and with a high level of secrecy. Avoiding detection by oppressive regimes was often paramount and this clandestine behaviour led to the coining of the term underground. 

The term gained popularity in the 1960s as a labelling for the radical culture of the hippies, firebrands and anti war protesters. These days the term can used to describe any alternative cultures and sub-cultures that are considered to be different from societies mainstream. 

American singer-songwriter and innovative musician Frank Zappa once described it like this:

"The mainstream comes to you, but you have to go to the underground.”

What popular men’s hairstyle trends emerged from within underground factions?

Inspired by the rock and roll music of the time, rockabilly and oiler hairstyles like pompadours and slick backs were popular amongst the social rebels of the nineteen fifties. This was an alternative scene at the time however these styles are very commonplace and mainstream today. 

As part of the hippie movement of the nineteen-sixties and as a counter-culture opposing the Vietnam War, shaggy long hairstyles were adopted by proponents of freedom, love, and liberty. Those with wildly long hairstyles were viewed as social rebells and to be against the establishment. Long hair for men is now socially acceptable at every level, although remaining most popular within the alternative lifestyle crowd of the modern day.

Timeless and iconic, the mullet is everywhere you look nowadays and yes this is another modern hairstyle with its roots amongst the rebels of a bye gone era. Sported by the likes of Paul McCartney of the Beetles in the sixties and then by David Bowie confronting and defying all conventions as Ziggy Stardust in the seventies. The mullet takes on many different forms but has firmly found its place in the mainstream and is a great example of how underground cultures guide the trending hairstyles of the mainstream.