Stubble is hot right now. The New York Times even says so. With wonderment and curiosity, Douglas Quenqua canvassed the fashion world and found that: "Like sideburns and chest hair, stubble is one of those organic male accouterments that perpetually cycles in and out of favor. These days, it seems, everybody wants a little scruff." His editors, in wanting evidence of this booming trend, probably sent him to various fashion shows (which he attended), provide statistical evidence of the rise of
beard trimmers "stubble trimmers" (which he found), consult facial hair mavens (who he interviewed) and most importantly, apply the The New York Times male trend litmus test: Did Jon Hamm do it first?
The Mad Men star has become the seal of approval for the newspaper's male trends, giving the green light to fledgling style stories and perhaps legitimizing the most facetious of trends. The burgeoning business of stubble grooming is no exception. "Jon Hamm, whose role on Mad Men inspired many a clean shave, was among the actors pairing stubble with a tuxedo at the Emmys last week," observed Quenqua. Thus a story was born on the .5 millimeter difference between Norelco's "stubble trimmers" and beard trimmers, the faux pas of neck scruff, and stubble's versatility in both summer and winter months.
This officially, at least by The Times trend standards, makes the habit of hanging a trend on Hamm. Today's piece makes it four times that Hamm has been the star example of other ephemeral trend pieces:
- The last time came last November before stubble was declared in and The Times's David Colman detailed the rise of "Barbershops With a 'Mad Men' Style." Yes, the kind where Don Draper would go for a close, straight razor shave if he were not a work of AMC fiction. The kind that "have popped up all over lower Manhattan" and spurred slick, straight razor shaves into popularity.
- In a separate story in that day's paper, Colman went on to champion the meteoric rise of the pocket comb, falling back on the Hamm/Draper theorem of trend relationships. "But as au naturel as the look began, it became forced as this decade wore on," wrote Colman. "Is it any surprise that Don Draper of Mad Men has become today’s most talked-about style icon? Sure, he’s a chain-smoking philanderer with an assumed identity and a future in Alcoholics Anonymous — and is a fictional character to boot. But his hair looks amazing. And he can thank his trusty pocket comb for that."
- Hashing over Hamm can extend past hair, however. When designers began peppering their fashion shows with more muscular models last year, Guy Trebay was the boy who cried Hamm. "What they want, in short, is Jon Hamm," he wrote last October. "That Mr. Hamm’s square-jawed Don Draper so persuasively resembles an archetypal father on a time-travel visa from an era of postwar expansion and fixed gender roles can hardly be incidental to the success of Mad Men." Wait what? Go ahead and re-read that sentence.
As Colman now knows, what Jon Hamm giveth, he can certainly taketh away and bless another Times writer with a sparkly new story. And that's just fine with the Styles section.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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