|Lumbersexual is your Tinder date, sipping craft beer at an underground bar with his sad eyes and permanently unrealised dream of living in an isolated woodland shack.’ Photograph: Stockrocket/Getty Images|
Out of the woods, here he comes: the lumbersexual
Though big of beard and clad in plaid, the latest male fashion hero has probably never been near a sawmill. But that doesn’t make him a fake
theguardian.com, Friday 14 November 2014 / http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/14/lumbersexual-beard-plaid-male-fashion
Just when we all thought we’d reached peak beard, a surprising development has happened in the fascinating world of male grooming. Yes, you guessed it (you probably didn’t guess it) – the lumbersexual is here, with his beard, plaid shirt, backpack and artfully scruffy hair barely contained by his sensible woollen hat.
He’s your Tinder date, sipping craft beer at an underground bar with his sad eyes and permanently unrealised dream of living in an isolated woodland shack. He’s your new boyfriend, who used to share a four-cheese pizza with you in bed after a long day, and who now looks like an extra who wandered out of the forest in Game of Thrones. Hell, he could even be the groom on your hipster wedding day.
We may have only just been given a great new portmanteau term for the type, but the lumbersexual has been here for a while. I know more than one urban-dwelling man who has suddenly acquired some sort of rurally themed weaponry in the last six months (axes, bows and arrows, tiny knives that they use to open beer cans at parties). And I’ve noticed that if you walk around certain areas for long enough, the proliferation of plaid (on plaid on plaid) will eventually make you feel as though you are living your life inside an optical illusion.
But the question on everybody’s lips, as with most new trends, is: guys, is this OK? Is it fine for my friend to adorn his walls with old bear traps he bought on eBay when he had to give up carving the Christmas turkey last year because it “looked too real”? Is there a problem with wrapping yourself up in a heavy duty woodsman’s jacket for your minimally hazardous commute from Peckham to the Apple store Genius Bar?
Is there something fundamentally wrong with calling yourself rugged when you actually spent 20 minutes of your morning delicately trimming your beard in the bathroom mirror? Or should we cut these guys some slack (preferably using a vintage hatchet from
Although I personally have spent too many dates fearing that the froth from the latest craft beer will get stuck in my lumbersexual admirer’s facial hair and make it look like a sponge, I find myself cautiously defensive of the trend. Posers they may be, but surely lumbersexuals don’t seriously think we believe that their pulled pork sandwiches are made from wild boar they slew in the communal garden behind their high-rise apartments. Instead, this so-called reaction to the unashamedly feminine metrosexual seems to me all about playing with gender stereotypes.
I like the poseur who sits beside me at a nauseatingly hip cafe with his cold brew, Barbour jacket and anchor tattoos – I can’t deny it. He isn’t telling me he’s anything but a freelance web designer who can grow an impressively bushy moustache. He isn’t sitting at home, crying over his laptop and wondering why he can’t just get out there and be a “real man”. Instead, he’s playing with the concept of what masculinity looks like and does. He is at the same time both aggressively attached to the traditionally masculine look and completely removed from the lifestyle that it advertises.
Men are given a harder time than women when they play with gender through style, since fashion still isn’t seen as their rightful domain. The metrosexual threw caution to the wind and started carrying his moisturiser round in his manbag; the lumbersexual now serves us up a hypermasculine aesthetic with an unashamedly ironic grin.
Did the lumbersexual, as accused, steal his look from the gay world of “bears” and “cubs”? It seems likely. As Tim Teeman at the Daily Beast says, “First, straights came for the smooth, pretty gay look … and now you have come for our hairier brethren.” Those who questioned straight culture in the first place were always better at laughing at gender, after all. Now that we can all share in the joy of metros, lumbersexuals and the “metrojacks”(who fall in the middle – yes, really), I am all too happy to laugh along.
Lumbersexual adorns his wall with bear traps despite being unable to carve a turkey because it looks ‘too real’. Photograph: Sunny Miller/Corbis