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Brief Published: 15 Dec 2014

Celebrating Beards

Brock Elbank's beard portraits

A newly announced March 2015 exhibition at London’s Somerset House will celebrate beards and their eclectic wearers – championing a trend in male grooming that is already shifting consumer spend.

Eighty portraits taken by award-winning British photographer Brock Elbank will be displayed, highlighting the latest trends and extremities in facial topiary. Sitters were invited to take part in the series based on the uniqueness and flamboyance of their beards, including English actor John Hurt and model Ricki Hall.

And while some fashion-led British and American male consumers would be quick to dismiss beards – citing their mass adoption by hipsters and its subsequent mainstreaming as passé – the male grooming industry is being affected by the increasing appreciation of facial hair. This is particularly the case in markets such as Australia, where the trend has yet to reach maturity (see Focus on Australian Beauty), although it continues unabated across Europe and the US.

According to market analyst Mintel, 63% of young British men no longer associate being clean-shaven with being well-groomed, with 42% admitting they don’t enjoy shaving, putting it off for as long as possible. IRI market analyst Emily Mayer concurred, noting: "Men are changing their shopping habits as the popularity of facial hair grows.”

This beard-led growth in the male grooming market has seen an increase in dedicated men’s brands with clever, attractive branding. One such example is Murdoch of London, which sells facial and haircare products, and now boasts a standalone store in London alongside its salon concession in luxury department store Liberty’s. See more in The Male Groom Boom