He bangs: why men are going back to fringes

Priya Elan
·3-min read

Fringes are back. And this time they’re just for men, who’ve been growing their hair out since getting a buzzcut at the beginning of lockdown.

The male “bangs” – wavy on the top and feathered at the ends – has been brought back by Justin Bieber who appeared sporting the cut on Saturday Night Live last weekend.

Versions of the hairdo have been visible on Machine Gun Kelly, singer Troye Sivan and Kim Taehyung, AKA V from Korean boyband BTS, and, because of their teenybop appeal, it has been called the “Cherubim haircut”.

Fearless fringers … Franz Ferdinand at Glastonbury.
Fearless fringers … Franz Ferdinand at Glastonbury. Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

The skinny fringe may have been re-popularised through Peaky Blinders and before that Franz Ferdinand, but the full male fringe was last popular in the early noughties, a hangover from the Britpop era of the 90s. It is the latest nostalgic style to return after the mullet of the 80s (Joe Exotic), the 90s middle and side parting or “curtains” (think: Timothée Chalamet and Robert Pattinson’s Batman) and the 70s era of shoulder length (Jake Gyllenhaal). “90s style has been back for a while, it was only a matter of time before the hair followed suit,” says Neil Scothon from Rocket Barber Shop in London.

The style follows a bigger trend in menswear for things to get softer. “You look at all the pastels and kitsch of (fashion label) Casablanca and the androgyny of Gucci’s AW20 collection, and it’s not that surprising to see cherubic curls come back,” says Esquire’s Murray Clark who came up with the “cherubim haircut” name.

Robert Pattinson filming The Batman with side-parted curtains.
Robert Pattinson filming The Batman with side-parted curtains. Photograph: MEGA/GC Images

The cut is also a result of men growing out their lockdown buzzcut and having a hair length that is new to them. Despite having had long hair 15 years ago, actor Brian J Patterson says: “I didn’t really have a strong desire to grow it again.” But sheltering in place and a lack of self consciousness due to not going out meant it’s now grown four inches. “Long hair seems to be opening up an entire new world for me,” he says.

“I’ve already begun playing with my new hairstyle and I find myself trying something new most mornings. My next endeavour will be to try cornrows.” Patterson says his attitude towards his hair, now it is longer, has transformed him. “I’ve begun to see growing my natural hair, something I always saw as kinky and abnormal as a beautiful thing.”

The return of male bangs indicates a new era of haircare for men. “Lockdown has forced (men) into a shaggy commitment, and they seem to be really enjoying it,” says Scothon. “On a mass scale, once the brave make it look good, the rest soon follow. For the last 20 years men have sat in my chair and said they want to grow their hair with a subtle lack of dedication in their eyes but now that’s all changed.”