Growing a beard became trendy in 2015, but what happened exactly?
First things first
Before historical times, fashion was a very personal thing, from what we can gather about Stone Age people from their art, and indeed their art is all we have to go on to understand how they looked. (As in whether or not cave dudes grew beards or shaved them off with their impressively sharp obsidian blades.)
So, for simplicity, and greater accuracy, let’s just consider the historical era, meaning the whole of time after writing was invented—3,200 BCE and beyond.
Throughout history, beards have come and gone. In the ancient days, it was exclusively about social benefits and masculinity. If beards were considered masculine in your culture, you grew one (if you were a guy). And many ancient cultures, like the Akkadians, took great pleasure in grooming their beards and curling them with curling irons to get that special Akkadian look locked down.
By the classic times, Rome had come onto the world stage as the super power. Originally, Romans had beards like the Greeks, but they quickly began to differentiate themselves by going clean-shaven as a sign of discipline, culture and a sign of civilization. So, here, thoughts and concepts other than masculinity and national identity come into play on the whole beard trend bell curve thing.
In the Western world, the whole to beard or not to beard thing has been going back and forth for like two-thousand years now.
We know that, for instance, in the Georgian and Regency eras, it became popular to be clean-shaven again as a nod to classical Roman civility. But then immediately after the regency everyone grew out huge beards as like a knee-jerk reaction for having to, as a society, shave for the past 150 years.
The last time beards were huge in Western culture in terms of trendiness was arguably the 1970’s. It started in the late ‘60s as a rebellion against the clean-cut, clean-shaven norm of the prior 60 years and everything that it stood for. (You know, corporate greed, fascism, prudishness—anything hippies were against.) But the beard thing kept on in the ‘70s, despite the hippies growing up and losing their souls—they still kept their beards.
And then beards went away for 40 years…so, again, the question: Why did beards suddenly make a comeback in 2015?
The likely culprits for the Great Beard Explosion of 2015 as I now call it are the hipsters, the coffee-drinkers, grandchildren of hippies and man-bun men, who, understandably, need some facial hair to balance out all the hair on top of their heads.
And then there are the celebs that emulate these people—or that, conversely, these people emulate. (As there is just no way Jason Momoa emulates anyone—he rocked the beard long ago.) They’re likely to blame as well.
Andreas.com has a pretty plausible alternate theory based on actual data and visible search engine trends (as opposed to style trends): Guys from the Southern US (think Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee) tend to serve time in the military, where they would, due to the dates in question, be likely stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan.
However, Andreas.com goes further and speculates that the soldiers picked up their bearded ways from the local Muslims who are required by religious reasons to groom and grow a beard, if they can.
More likely, the soldiers coming home are guys who had been forced to shave for the whole time they were in the military and not shaving was simply an act of rebellion.
These are just theories, though. However, the data Andreas.com collected clearly shows an early beard trend circa 2007 that radiated outward to the rest of the US, reaching hipster havens like Brooklyn by the early 2010s and the rest of the country mid-decade.
There are likely a very large number of reasons why beards became so trendy around 2015. For the forerunners of this trend—they would have naturally and logically had the most diverse reasons for beard growth. The 2015 Beardsplosion (also what I’m calling it) was likely the result of everyone suddenly catching on (again, for the first time since the ‘70s) just how damn good beards look.