Hair Flair: Man buns

Hair Flair: Man buns
Man buns' roots reach back to the chonmage hairstyles worn by Japanese samurai.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Look around and you might spot some men here with a hairstyle usually associated with samurais, or, well, just women.

We are talking about buns. In this style, the hair is pulled back from the face and tied into a knot at the back of the head.

Purists say that the man bun has a specific height. It cannot be too high, like a Sikh topknot. The ideal placement is just below the crown of the head.

You can opt for a loose, deliberately messy look, with free-flowing tendrils framing the face. Or a tight, scraped-back look like a ballerina.

And note that the hair needs to be tied into a knot, not a ponytail. If it swings from side to side, a la Antonio Banderas in Desperado, it ain't a man bun.

The man bun, fashion experts say, has a venerable history. Its roots reach back to the chonmage hairstyles worn by Japanese samurai in the 17th to 19th centuries. A variation of it is sported by sumo wrestlers today.

But seriously, who are we kidding? The hairstyle is hot right now because celebrities have gone bun-crazy.

Footballer David Beckham was among the first to sport it in the 2000s, pulling his blonde locks back in a utilitarian bun while kicking a ball on the pitch.

Soon, actors Orlando Bloom, Chris Hemsworth and Jared Leto followed suit, and this year, so too, did actor Leonardo DiCaprio and singer Harry Styles.

In Asia, Korean stars Jang Keun Suk and Joo Jin Mo, as well as Thai-American host-actor Utt have donned the look.

Mr Darren Ho, 33, managing editor of men's magazine August Man, says man buns became a hairstyle trend around the world about 18 months ago and is gaining momentum in Singapore now.

He says: "In the first place, male celebrities are wearing longer hairstyles nowadays. The bun is a natural development."

Says hairstylist Eric Ang, 31, who has had his man bun for more than a year and is in a relationship: "I started keeping this hairstyle because I saw Orlando Bloom's man bun. It was neat, smart, but still had a tinge of ruggedness."

Says Mr Jerek Khoo, 29, a wedding singer and piano teacher who adopted the style two months ago: "I tried the hairstyle one day and my younger brother said it suited me.

"But I've also seen several models with this hairstyle on Instagram and YouTube and they give me inspiration about the various ways that I can tie a man bun."

He is single.

Although it has fashion cred, to many guys, the man bun is just a convenient, low-maintenance hairstyle. Mr Juraij Yasmin, 33, an instructor at Skyline Luge Sentosa, whose hair is just long enough to form a small bun, says he has not been to the hairdresser for six months. "Nowadays, if I feel my hair needs a trim, I will do it myself at home with a pair of scissors."

The only hair product he uses is three-in-one shampoo, adds the bachelor.

"No blow-drying. No hairspray. Every morning, I can get up and be out of the house in five minutes."

Mr Sanveer Gill, 31, a director with fashion and retail company Gill Capital, agrees. The bachelor has sported a man bun for about a year.

"With this style, I need to only wash it. It also looks professional and different."

Says Mr William Yip, 30, a senior barber at We Need A Hero, who cuts Mr Gill's hair every month: "A man bun suits his lifestyle because it is fuss-free. It is also one of the few hairstyles for men with long hair that suits a corporate environment."

Of course, the man bun has no shortage of detractors. Image consultant Audrey Quek, 40, says: "Not everyone has the suaveness or confidence to pull off a man bun.

"And if the bun is not tied neatly, it is very easy to look messy and dishevelled."

Says Mrs Lily Meow, 53, a clerk: "This hairstyle looks really ugly. The men who wear it look like women from the back and it's so confusing.

"Why do these men want a hairstyle that makes them look like women? It's completely bizarre to me."

Indeed, practically every man with a bun seems to have a family member or friend who has asked him to get rid of it.

Says Mr Gill: "My parents hate my hair. When my mother knew I was coming for this photoshoot, she even asked me to cut my hair short.

"But this is my hair. And tying it into a bun makes me feel cool and happy."

bang@sph.com.sg

 


This article was first published on June 14, 2015.
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