Off the pitch, David Beckham’s biggest legacy is surely his influence on men’s style – especially when it comes to grooming. The soccer-star son of a hairdresser has the most famous mane in sport. From curtains to cornrows and the odd experiment with a Bic razor, his hairstyles have made their mark on barbershops the world over.
DAVID BECKHAM'S HAIR EVOLUTION
By Libby Banks, 24 July 2017
There's a belief that Beckham's tonsorial experimentations have been propelled by vanity – but we think the opposite is true. While many men like to play it safe with their hair, Becks isn't inhibited by self-consciousness. He accepts the basic truth that hair grows back quickly, so if someone can do something awesome or ridiculous with it, why not? Today, on his 42nd birthday, we salute the man of a thousand hairstyles.
A style so 1993 it hurts, Beckham’s mousy curtains when he played for Man U’s youth team probably required little more than a £5 trip to the barbers and a decent slathering of gel. In short, young Becks gave little indication of the bumpy rollercoaster that his hair was to take us on.
1999: Boy band blonde
Way before Gigi and Zayn started coordinating their band merch and bomber jackets, for better or worse, Posh 'n’ Becks pioneered the coordinated couple genre. David and Victoria had been dating for a couple years by this point, and Easy V’s influence can definitely be seen. More boy band heartthrob than soccer star, David was every inch the late-90s mega celeb with his carefully highlighted blonde fringe.
A new millennium saw a drastic new style for Becks. His curtains were left in the 90s and with 2000 came a brave new hairstyle, evocative of a tough action hero. DB’s new do reportedly set him back £470 and tabloids dubbed it the ‘short Becks and sides’. He later added hip-hop-influenced tramlines, an eyebrow stripe and a goatee. Nice.
2001: Mini mohawk
It didn’t last long, but this was one of David’s most controversial tonsorial turns. Inspired by Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle – although the Mr T influence is hard to ignore – word spread that Alex Ferguson was not thrilled with the look. He’s since admitted that the Man United boss ordered him to shave it off. David gave in, and that was the end of that.
2002: Hoxton fin
This style might conjure images of Apprentice candidates and X-Factor dropouts, but there was a time when the Hoxton fin was genuinely, unironically cool. And it was Becks who led the way.
In 2003 David went and got himself some cornrows – and just in time for his visit to meet Nelson Mandela in South Africa. The result was pure gap yah cliché. To be fair, David has since expressed regret, saying in recent interview that they were a 'bad decision'. Too true.
2003: Enter the man bun
Man buns have been getting a lot of press in recent times but Becks was way ahead on this. Signed to Real Madrid for not-so-shabby €35 million in the summer of 2003, this was perhaps a nod to continental style. Whether you’re a fan or not, there’s no denying the fact that Becks claimed the man bun as his own before anyone even knew it was a thing.
2004: Long with hairband
The early 2000s was a busy time for Beckham’s team of hair consultants. At least, we assume there must have been a team dedicated to his mane. The hairband was partly needed for practical, running-around-the-pitch-reasons, but mostly it was a way to push the long hair look to a fashion-forward extreme. A sort of hair version of his famed sarong, then.
2011: Fantastic man
Not long before his move to Paris for Saint-Germain, David unveiled his most suave look to date: a Don Draper-worthy cut with sharp side parting. He first appeared on the cover of Fantastic Man with the style in 2011 – it’s since become his go-to haircut and, with a few adjustments for length or fullness of quiff, it's the longest he has kept one style since the beginning of his career. Sure you can laugh about some of the rest, but it is impossible to ignore the impact of this one.