Mullets are back. In a strange turn of events the pandemic has created the perfect breeding ground for a mullet renaissance. The infamous haircut began as a protest to conventional beauty in the 70s, becoming synonymous with a rebellious and rockstar lifestyle. It can now be seen all over NUI Galway’s campus. Rock legends Keith Richards, David Bowie and Paul McCartney were amongst those setting the trend leading to mullet-mania, one of the big counter-culture movements of the 80s.
Barber closures over the last year resulted in hair being grown to lengths that people could never have dreamt of. It was either the waiting game or a questionable home-cut in the mirror for most. This meant that as barbers finally reopened, they were met with hair lengths that could be styled into a wider range of options. In other words, it became much more feasible to get a mullet as there was more hair to work with.
But we needed inspiration.
Tiger King’s Joe Exotic is possibly the most unexpected star of the pandemic. The timing of the bizarre and whacky Netflix documentary shot Joe Exotic and his mullet into superstardom. This journey of a man gone wild was epitomized by his bleach blonde mullet. It is almost as if his mullet hypnotised viewers into turning a blind eye to his animal mistreatment, meth use, and murder for hire plot.
We had no reason to like this man as much as we did, it had to be the mullet.
It seems that the combination of barber closures and a mullet wearing TV star were enough to kickstart the resurgence. Of course, all fashion is cyclical. The business in the front, party in the back cut hadn’t really been seen since the Beastie Boys in the 90s. So maybe it was due to return.
Afterall, it was the Beastie Boys who coined the term mullet in the song Mullet Head. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, despite the hairstyle being prominent since ancient times (the 60s), it remained unnamed until the Beastie Boys.
This polarizing look takes a lot of confidence to pull off, you might need the ability to not take yourself too seriously, a trait many lack.
Joe exotic didn’t seem take himself too seriously, but he was helped in returning mullets to their former glory by another free spirit, Miley Cyrus. It’s no surprise she followed in her father, Billy Ray Cyrus’, footsteps. She originally just wanted to pay homage to his look but instead instigated the modern twist on a classic look.
The modern mullet is more relaxed and now female friendly. Miley Cyrus began rocking her mullet in 2020. Since then, Rihanna has followed suit alongside Halsey and Billie Eilish. Mullets now come in so many variations that there’s a style for everyone. The basic cut is short on the front and side with long hair at the back. Many ladies opt for gradually tapered sides and plenty of styling wax for a more sleek, less dramatic look. It works to good effect.
The trend looks set to be here for a while. A strange product of the pandemic that nobody could have guessed. Still, more and more are appearing every day, making it clear that the mullet isn’t done with us yet. It may be years before it becomes obsolete and unfashionable.