14 April 2012

Designer Stubble


From the Sun, October 4, 1986.

Workers were bristling yesterday over their bosses' ban... on trendy stubble beards.

The firm's younger fellas - who copy Wham! star George Michael's hairy style - have had to take the decision on the chin.

Some have been handed razors or sent home when they arrived at the Goodson lampshade factory in Hixon, Stafford.

Management claim five-o-clock shadows give a bad impression to visitors from customers like Marks and Spencer.

Managing director Phillip Goodson said yesterday: "We have high standards. It's disrespectful."

Some of the lads called in their factory inspector to see if the razor ruling was legal.

But they were told management was entitled to expect workers to look smart.

One employee, who did not want to be named, complained: "You can still look smart with a bit of shadow. It's trendy."

was, in fact, very trendy indeed to look slightly unshaven in the mid-to-late 1980s. This look came to be known as "designer stubble" and was actually a cultivated style designed to make the stubbled-one look wonderfully macho. It was a look that was popularised by George Michael in Wham and Don Johnson in Miami Vice. I tried it, but ended up looking like a seedy villain.

My mate Steve tried it, and looked absolutely great (or so he said), but he came unstuck at work at Sainsbury's. Dazzling all the housewives as a front-of-house check-out operator, Steve was one day spotted by the evil store manager, who took him straight off the till and sent him to work in the store's warehouse for the rest of the day. That was the end of Steve's stubbled phase. Humping boxes and crates around simply was not his style.

20th Century Words by John Ayto, describes designer stubble thus:

noun (1987): a short bristly growth of stubble on a man's unshaven face, worn for a carefully groomed yet rugged and masculine appearance...

The book quotes a Guardian article from 1989:

Designer stubble of the George Michael ilk has also run its bristly course.


Mind you, it's back in fashion now!

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