Fade (fad/), a verb which means gradually grow faint and disappear. But today, “fade” is actually more popular as a noun than a verb—in the form of a men’s haircut that’s faded and tapered on the back and the sides, but longer on top. It’s so popular now that every other male celebrity is sporting it in various incarnations depending on their face shape and hair type. Enrique Gil and Gerald Anderson like theirs with the top part gelled up, while Xian Lim sports his with a side part. Teen King Daniel Padilla, meanwhile, prefers another version of the fade, the pompadour, which has a lot of volume on the crown.
This whole trendy haircut phenomenon has overpowered the conservative buzz cuts associated with the barbershop culture of past generations, and is, much like fashion trends, a sign of the changing times. “The younger generation is more experimental, and I think it’s more of a reflection of the current economic trends and how developed we are now as a country—we’ve got an open economy, there are more options when it comes to everything,” says Marco Katigbak, founder of Felipe & Sons, a specialty men's barbershop known to be one of the pioneers of more stylish men’s haircuts in Manila.
And with easy access to social media, Filipino men have become closer now more than ever to a treasure trove of options when it comes to styling their hair. “Everybody has more of an opportunity to express themselves and they’re finding ways to do so through their haircuts,” notes Marco. How exactly then, does the fade help men showcase their personalities? Why is it such an in demand haircut today? Simple: The tapered sides and back lend a fresh, clean vibe while the longer top provides leeway for styling for special events or days when guys just want to “rock out.” “The fade is a typical standard globally, and it works really well on Asian men because our hair type is thin, fine, and straight,” he adds.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking: A lot of Filipino men actually have curly or wavy locks—the fade may not exactly be their best friend, but that’s not to say they can’t get that clean cut look, too. Case in point: James Reid. He’s got a cut that allows his head of soft curls to go about polished. Looking clean seems to be a consensus among men when it comes to their haircut goals, which says a lot about their desire to look good in general. “If you put attention to your haircut, it’s like putting your best foot forward much like when it comes to clothes—it does something to your confidence that whatever you face, you’re already facing it with more advantage,” says Marco.
Filipino guys are actually as hair conscious as they are fashion conscious (sometimes more)—they don’t blindly follow trends but they find the formula that looks good on them and makes it their signature. Hence our dappers, hipsters, rockers, and surfers—guys are just so much easier to classify into style categories than girls, don’t you agree? Dappers like their hair really polished, hipsters are okay with the mussed up look, rockers are all about edge, surfers have got theirs always looking like they’re at the beach even if they’re in the city. In terms of level of experimentation, Marco notes that the younger ones are more open to trying out new things and even arrive armed with pegs, while their older clientele prefer to stick to their usual barber’s cut, and request for their usual stylist.
While women’s fascination for hairstyles still trumps that of the guys, the latter is still not exempt from the direction the former’s style is taking in terms of trends and in the cycle of fashion, the 1970s is up next—which means… long hair! Yes not kidding, longer hair for men, such an antithesis to what's pop today. “The clean cut has had its time—it’s been big for two to three years already—the direction of fashion is leading us back to long hair. Not too long, maybe medium length, styled more with hair products,” adds Marco. Then again, the fade has made a huge mark in the men’s hairstyles category that we doubt it’ll ever go away—but for 2016, bring out your gels and pomade as slicked back hair and that Grease look will be back in style.
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Photographs courtesy of Instagram.com/bangbangstylecrew (James), Instagram.com/chinitokusieho (Enrique), and Instagram.com/andersongeraldjr (Gerald)