Beards are officially dead.
With the advent of the yuccie—that is, the Young Urban Creative—there’s been a slow demise of the hipster tribe, with millennials now flocking toward more sophisticated shores.
They’ve now been adopted into the new “creative class,” and have opted for a cleaner, sleeker look. That means banishing their hoodies and flannels, becoming more streamlined in their life choices, and leaving behind that artifact of post-adolescence: rebellious facial hair.
What was once seen as the ultimate symbol of cool and the quintessential sign of manliness is now antiquated and unfashionable.
Just ask Joel Alexander, once one of the biggest purveyors of the bushy beard, who created a cult-like following on social media for his talent of growing facial hair. But recently, Alexander, 27, has chosen to shave his face completely.
“The big beard trend is over and done,” the fashion model and blogger says.
Alexander, who resides in Brooklyn and has booked campaigns for True Religion, Silver Jeans, Alternative Apparel, among others, said he created his following two years ago, which he says was the height of the beard. After being posted on a Tumblr and reblogged hundreds of time, he gained notoriety on the Web. But it was after fellow bearded model Luke Ditella posted him on his Instagram that he gained a substantial following overnight.
“I had so many likes and followers that my notifications blew up my phone and my phone shut down,” Alexander recalls.
He then reposted the model Levi Stocke, whose own phone shut down for the same reason.
It wasn’t until November of 2014 when Alexander discovered that having a beard wasn’t helping his career, rather, stifling it.
“My agents were telling me that big fashion houses weren’t wanting to book me because of the beard,” he says. “It’s not what they’re looking for any more and I realized then that I wasn’t going to be getting jobs with it.”
Though he has seen a dip of unfollowers on Instagram when he opted for a razor. The first time he post a photo of his bare face, he lost 8,000 followers.
“This time around I’m weaning them off by starting with a small beard, then some scruff,” he says.
Indeed, among all high fashion campaigns and editorials, finding bearded models is far and few between.
“We live in a more streamlined world that’s post-hipster,” says Jorge Cosano, the founder of the men’s e-commerce site, Ecole. The CEO was once the leader of incubating men’s brands at L’Oreal USA and the director of global marketing for Kiehl’s.
“The hipster was all about being anti-establishment and doing everything that was against corporate culture. But now we’re seeing that the new millennials, these ‘yuccies,’ are working in non-traditional environments where they can wear what they want to in their work places and truly express themselves. Now with tech becoming so big, it’s affected how people want to look like: Clean, minimal, crisp. The beard has no place now.”
Jeff Laub, co-founder of the popular barber shop and grooming brand, Blind Barber, says that men are focusing more on their appearance.
“I think the men’s grooming world is experiencing a renaissance,” he says. “We’ve done our research there’s a huge spike and increase of interest in taking care of your skin.”
Laub says that the death of the coined 2000's term, “metrosexual,” allowed men to become more secure in their appearances without the threat of anyone questioning their masculinity.
“The only way to succeed is to feel confident,” he says. “There’s a huge movement to improve ourselves. This generation is excited to take care of themselves and to execute at the highest level.”
To Alexander, and countless of other yuccies, that means getting clean shaven.
Most recently, the model has transitioned into acting, where he’s discovered that beards are economically unwise for models and actors.
“Casting directors and my acting agents are also telling me how beards are so niche and hipster that they’re not as desired, and how I won’t get gigs with them,” he says.
“The hipster is a thriftster,” he says. “In essence he’s cheap. He’s that Silver Lake guy with Vans and rolled up jeans. I love that look, that’s who I am too, in a lot of ways. But today’s dude is all about looking more unattainable, looking more elevated, maybe more expensive. No one wants a hipster who looks like he just got done scavenging.”
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