Something unexpected and yes, a little shocking, is happening in barber chairs across Long Island. Guys (and a few women too) are requesting … a mullet.
On a recent Saturday at Noble Savage Barber Shop in Bay Shore, mullet variations were plentiful.
Casey Opatovsky, 13, of Brightwaters came in for a cleanup of his classic version of the mullet cut. "When I was younger, people laughed about mullets, but we always say things come full circle and it has," says his mom Kerri. For his part, Casey says Minnesota Twins’ third baseman Josh Donaldson was his inspiration. "I just saw it and I wanted it."
That same day, Jesse James Roberts, 39, of West Islip, took the style to new heights. "I was in the military for 12 years and ever since, I decided to go a little crazy with my hair. I like to spice things up," he says of his mohawk-meets-mullet mane.
“They’re actually saying the words, ‘I want a mullet. When you hear that you think ‘oh my God, I thought it would never reemerge again.’”Jamie Mazzei, owner of nuBest Salon and Spa, Manhasset
The dated haircut that was around in the '70s and peaked for about a decade in the early ‘80s to ‘90s and combined two extremes of hairstyle, short and neat in the front, and long and p-a-r-t-a-y in the back has returned. An iconic and exaggerated example of the much-maligned look is the David Spade’s character "Joe Dirt," but in truth both men and women from Blake Shelton to Zac Efron and even Miley Cyrus and Rihanna have adopted some iteration of the style, along with a slew of professional athletes.
But why now?
THE MODERN MULLET
"During the pandemic lockdown, people went for months without getting a professional haircut and that may well have created a ‘mullet friendly’ environment," says Garrett Munce, the grooming editor of "Esquire" and "Men’s Health" magazines and author of the book, "Self-Care For Men, How to Look Good and Feel Great." Dubbed "the modern mullet," Munce says, "It’s a completely welcoming, trendy style and some are not quite so drastic as the '80s mullet."
He adds that the ‘do is an entire category of hair style, all of which have one thing in common: shorter hair in the front, longer hair in the back. "It’s really a variation on the shag."
"The modern mullet is the new rock star especially with millennials," says Ed Dennehy, the co-owner of Mad Men Barber Shops in Williston Park and Wantagh. "It’s a different style for the younger generation who are always finding themselves."
At The Men’s Grooming Studio in Lake Ronkonkoma, owner J. Ramos says that while before the pandemic fades were popular, he's done about 12 mullets in the past week. "They're coming back with a vengeance … History always repeats itself," he says.
And at nuBest Salon and Spa, a unisex salon in Manhasset, "They’re actually saying the words, ‘I want a mullet,’" says owner Jamie Mazzei. "When you hear that you think ‘oh my God, I thought it would never reemerge again.’"
Thomas O’Rourke, a co-owner of Noble Savage says he started seeing the trend with high school Lacrosse and baseball players. "That’s where I saw it coming in. It’s not the Joe Dirt mullet, it’s a hybrid like a fade into a mullet. I think it partially can be attributed to people doing home cuts and messing up. It’s a new and improved '80s comeback."
Of course, the mullet isn’t the only ‘do du jour. "I’m seeing a lot of controlled chaos," says J. Ramos describing it as "medium to longer length hair that appears to be messy but is perfectly placed for a bed head look."
Adds Dennehy, "Whatever length men have gained during COVID, they are trying to embrace post-COVID. To that end, his shops are cutting skin fades and cuts with short sides and longer hair up top, and he says, "business men still love the classic comb-over and hard part."
But apparently, throwbacks are in. Says Mazzei, "While we’re doing plenty of mullets, I’m also seeing pompadours."
In other men’s grooming news, A-Rod has a concealer, men are wearing makeup and neat brows are in.
It used to be that the only robust areas in the men’s grooming market were shaving and hair care, says Garrett Munce, the grooming editor of “Esquire” and “Men’s Health” magazines. “But I think the men’s skin care game is blowing up. Lockdown allowed guys to get into a little more. Maybe they were sitting at home looking at their face on Zoom and thinking, ‘Wow I look tired or I have a zit.’ Overall what the pandemic brought out is this sense of experimentation and a sense of playfulness.”
Unlikeliest men’s makeup award may just go to Alex Rodriguez who teamed up with the Hims & Hers brand to launch “The Blur Stick” designed to hide blemishes, dark spots, pimples and under-eye circles. The product sells for $17 at forhims.com and comes in eight shades. Munce says A-Rod is the “the last person” you think about when you think about men’s makeup. He’s also a huge fan of Lawrence-based company, Stryx. “For the guy who’s interested and isn’t comfortable going into the makeup aisle, these products are great and sold at CVS,” he says. Besides a concealer ($18), there’s a tinted moisturizer, an anti-shine product, special sponges for blending and clear beard and brow gel.
And speaking of brows, men are paying more attention to them. “The ultimate rule is that there’s no unibrow. They don’t want to shape too much, but using brow gel and getting them slightly shaped and threaded is more common than it was a few years ago,” says Munce. This seems to be true at nuBest Salon and Spa in Manhasset, where more men are asking for threading, says owner Jamie Mazzei.