The big beard is making a comeback
So big beards are back (in France, at least). And men’s razor sales are down. Even Jeremy Paxman’s wearing one. What’s going on? Is this passion for facial furniture a passing fad, or indicative of a shift in our cultural values? And how does it relate to business?
Of course beard wearers are still the minority. You’d still look a bit odd walking into a business meeting with a full-on WG Grace on your face.
But would a bit of designer stubble, or even a week’s growth, stylishly trimmed, have caused the same frowns in a boardroom of today that my grandfather would given me if I’d turned up to one of his drinks parties anything but clean-shaven? I suspect not.
To my mind, there are a couple of things going on here. Firstly, it reflects a kind of postmodernism, coinciding with the rebellion against the capitalist myth propagated during the 80s, 90s and 00s, as well as the clean-cut image that went with it. The new beard wearers are the opposite of Thatcherite yuppie. You know the one, with the enormous mobile phone? Can’t imagine him with a beard, can you?
But it also reflects the acceptance of creativity and self-expression into the mainstream, not only in a personal sense but in a professional one too. There’s a growing sense that we’re not all the same, that individuality is something to be proud of, not ashamed of, and that it’s OK – and, crucially, not necessarily indicative of a lack of ambition – to not want to wear a suit, to work a standard 9 to 5, to expect to make money out of creativity.
Social media has given everyone a public voice and the opportunities for small agencies, home or shed workers, sole traders, are getting better all the time.
At Forsyth Websper we like to work in an informal yet professional workspace, one where professionalism is paramount but where creativity is nurtured. But many of our associates also have their own spaces in which they enjoy producing their work. Yet when it comes to meeting clients, we’re respectful of a need to inspire confidence that we’re working our hardest to provide them with solutions that deliver. That means realising that they might care how we dress. A beard would be OK, as long as the wearer’s eyes were bright and his wits were keen.
So bring on the beards, I say. Paxman on Newsnight with full-on growth. Who’d have thought we’d ever see the day?
– Rupert Janisch, account executive, Forsyth Websper