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Feature - Men's Style

Text by Dale Ted Watkins // Published Friday 14 December 2012

I'm often asked, "Dale Ted, what do you think is cool in men’s hairdressing? What’s hot now and what’s going to be hot?"

It’s an easy question to ask but almost impossible to answer, as there isn’t one single, simple answer!

Men’s hairdressing isn’t about fashion, for me it’s a celebration of personal style. It’s all about tribalism - what tribe or gang does your client belong to or and what tribe or gang does your client aspire to join or feel associated to. Throughout history each tribe has had its own sense of style, clothing, music and haircuts attributed to each movement. For example, the word teenager didn’t exist until the 1950s. This was the decade when the youth rebelled and discovered its own voice. Long gone were the days when kids were just smaller versions of their parents. 

The Teddy Boys were the first significant UK youth movement in the 50s. The original name for this new youth movement was  Neo Edwardian, named after the long overcoats and narrow trousers taken directly from this period. This was soon shortened to Ted, the nickname of Edward VII. Elvis Presley was a huge influence musically and stylistically for the Teddy Boys with his sideburns and heavily greased D.A haircut that morphed into the Elephant Trunk cut in England, with the quiff falling over the forehead just above the eyebrows. In the 60s came the Beatles with their Mop Top haircut and the Stones with the Prince Valiant haircut. Each look had its own followers and sense of style and clothing. The 1960s really saw an explosion of different tribes and styles, following the huge musical progression and diversity of that decade.

So what inspires me? Where do I find my influences? To look forward first, you have to look back. I'm inspired by street culture, whether it's a youth movement, clothes or a music scene - something with soul. In my work I like to tell a story about our Great British street culture and heritage. I’m very proud to be an Englishman, this little island is a world leader in fashion and music and has led youth movements globally for decades. Some of the most amazing street cultures and movements have started on this little Island - Teddy Boys, Mods, Rockers, Greasers, Scooter Boys, Suedeheads, Rude Boys, Punks, New Romantics, Soul Boys, Casuals to name but a few. Each has its own brand of style, haircuts and music, all with their own gang affiliations and even with their own mode of transport. The Mods had the Vespa or Lambretta; the Rockers rode British motorcycles like the Triumph, BSA or Norton Commanders. 

So what story will I be telling in my work in the future? I think it's time I explored the world of androgyny. Think the 70s - Marc Bolan and Glam rock with longer, looser rock star hair or David Bowie's persona Ziggy Stardust with his feather cut. Maybe I’ll look into London's Blitz Club of the 80s run by Steve Strange, that created the New Romantic movement and was hugely influenced by punk and Bowie. All I know is its gotta have soul. 

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