Far from the runways and red carpets of New York and Hollywood, men's hairstyles in Springfield are slow to reflect fashion trends in bigger cities. But area designers are doing their part to usher in change.
"I love going to Chicago and New York, seeing what people are doing and bringing those influences back here for our customers," says Bernie Koch, owner of Appearances Salon & Day Spa.
With 27 years at Appearances and 42 years in the business, Koch acknowledges that while Springfield is not exactly on the cutting edge of fashion, some of his customers are. For them, he tries to stay on top of trends.
Koch says a few different styles are popular at the moment. One is a short, military cut that requires a styling product to make the top stand up.
The reverse trend is a longer, retro look. Koch leaves the hair longer and fuller on top with a 1930s-influenced taper up the back.
Rodney Kneller, general manager and director/stylist at BJ Grand Salon and Spa, agrees that last season's trend toward messy, unkempt hair has given way to a more tailored look.
"This season we're seeing shorter styles with lots of texture. We're also seeing a return to a classic, neat look - something like Cary Grant would've worn," Kneller says. "It's a versatile look because of its length - it can look smooth and tailored or messy and spiky. You have so many options when you're working with a professional cut."
Many popular styles require the use of hair products, and Kneller says men tend to overuse them.
"When hair is loaded up with gel or pomade, you aren't seeing the cut. You're seeing the product," Kneller says. "A little goes a long way, and you can always add more."
The solution to problems with products is communication. Kneller says giving a great cut isn't enough. Stylists also have to educate men on how to dress the cut themselves. Otherwise, they're likely to go home and overload on product.
One hair trend Koch and Kneller would prefer to see fade away is the home haircut. Some would argue a pair of clippers and a mirror is all it takes to master a man's haircut. Stylists aren't convinced.
Guys who cut their hair at home think they're doing great, Kneller says. But there are a number of things you can't achieve by running a pair of clippers across your own head.
"Graduation is hard. When you try to create that yourself by using different clipper guards, you end up with a line around your head that's difficult to fix in a salon, let alone at home," Kneller says. "Texture and varying lengths are fashionable - that's what is going on right now - and you can't do that at home."
"We fix an awful lot of home haircuts," Koch says. "Hair is the most important fashion accessory we have. Once we win over a man's confidence, we can guide them toward looks better suited for them. When you look good, you feel good, and we want people to love the way they look."
Story published Friday, November 7, 2008 ( Volume 3, Number 6 )