“Just do anything you want mate,” is apparently not a request barbers get very often.
But when Sennen’s Seb Smart wandered into Clique Barbershop in Falmouth last weekend and sat down in the chair, that was exactly the command that came in.
After a bit of examination; taking note of face shape, hair thickness and general vibe, Tom settled on the suggestion of a modern mullet; featuring shaved sides, short front and longer back. Not quite as audacious as its 80s iteration, but still a good distance off a bog-standard buzz cut. “Whatever you reckon,” replied Seb, “let’s do it,” and with that, the clippers roared to life and we were away.
Famously described as business in the front, party in the back, the mullet, according to historians, dates all the way back to neanderthal times. However, the name wasn’t coined until ‘94, when the Beastie Boys sang about it in their track ‘Mullet Head’ (the term was already in use to refer to people of dubious intelligence, but Ad-Rock and co were the first to link it to the hairstyle.)
Of course, by then, it’d already enjoyed its ‘80s heyday and was falling quickly out of fashion, derided by mainstream culture as the hairstyle of rednecks in backwater dive bars.
The new millennium saw it fade ever further, featuring only as a punchline, or worn in rural parts of the US and the Aussie outback, proudly sported by salt of the earth types, not the least bit bothered about what fashion mags made of their barnets.
Then, after decades of dormancy, the last few years have seen a sudden resurgence in mullet estimations. From where exactly, no one quite seems sure. Some blame Matt Damon, others lockdown self-cuts. In surfing circles, most roads lead to Mikey Wright, who’s been wearing one for years, but made mullet-mentioning headlines earlier this year after he saved a drowning swimmer on the North Shore.
As Seb’s hair began to scatter onto the shoulders of his Uppercut Deluxe gown, I put the question to Tom, surely the man best placed to go definitive. As I’d hoped, his explanation was as convincing as it was concise, stating simply: “It’s all because of Tiger King.”
With that mystery solved, we settled into the relaxed meandering conversation typical of the barbershop setting, covering all sorts from the recent deficit in surfboard blanks and screws to Seb’s crazy wave from this winter and how he’s been filling the recent flat spell skating, painting and working with his girlfriend Calypso to get their new cafe ready in Sennen. As his chair spun, pointing him out through the bay window at a giant ship in the harbour beyond, Tom told us a little more about his plans for the brand new shop in which we were sat. Started as a custom bike outfit in Cornwall’s only city, Clique Truro evolved to offer haircuts, coffee and clothes, while this, the Falmouth branch will extend the offering to include tattoos and piercings too, with the grand opening set for a few weeks time.
No sooner had Seb committed to returning then for some ink, than the scissors were away and Tom was ready to add the finishing touches. First, with some Uppercut Deluxe Salt Spray, which he explained is a light and easy product, perfect for pre-styling, that works on a whole bunch of hair types.
“I was waiting for someone to make this,” said Seb as a light mist settled on his new mullet, “my mates used to just bottle up seawater.” Resourceful, I thought. But, almost certainly inferior. Not only because the Uppercut Deluxe version saves you the hassle of kneeling at the tide line with a spray bottle, but also because it no doubt smells considerably better too.
Then, finally some Uppercut Deluxe Clay, the latest product from the brand, which offers strong hold, natural finish and can easily be re-worked throughout the day. For our purposes, it’s there to bring a bit of life to the top of the mullet, said Tom. And the verdict from Seb once it was in and the gown whipped off? “Lethal.”
And with that, we headed off for a surf.
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