Growing beard, which was considered out of fashion for years, is back in Germany. Wherever one looks, young men or those who think they are in touch with fashion are growing beards again, much to the dismay of beard purists or fashion advisors.
Cultural expert and author Mercedes Bunz was one of the first to notice the trend in Germany on returning from a long trip to the US. She said she was shocked to see men in their 30s and 40s growing beards as their fathers had once done. Berlin has already begun to host beard parties at some of the trendier clubs popular among 30-year-old.
"Berlin wears a beard ... a full beard," says Bunz. "That is somehow astonishing because you are often finding beards on faces that would not have considered a beard five years ago."
Two kinds of beards are becoming fashionable, she says. Some gentlemen trim their beards to match the contours of the face and at the same time, bushy beards, like the ones worn by academics in the 1970s to protest societal norms are resurging.
"The times are long gone when someone wore something to provoke," said Birgit Richard, a professor and expert of youth culture at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt.
This response to the long-held taboo against beards is, above all, an attempt to create an identity separate from other groups. "This is a niche, that was given a negative connotation by the hippies but, at the same time, allowed a blank canvas for the face."
Regardless of the explanations the social scientists give, a full beard is anathema to adherents of the true beard culture. "Any guy with a beard like that would be turned away by us," says Lutz Giese, head of the First Berlin Beard Club and the proud owner of a moustache that spans 34 centimetres.
Full beards also get a quick brush-off from K.D. Kaiser in Luneburg, a hairdresser to the stars and a former world champion in his field.
"At the moment, I do not see a trend there," he says. Two years ago, beards were popular with professional models, but that was a long time ago.
Style and manners expert Marianne Montag from Unna also cautions young men and says keeping a beard is a tough job. A full beard makes one look older, while a goatee makes one look undependable. "It just looks silly when there are only three strands of hair hanging there."