OH TO BE TRAVIS KELCE right now. As you begin to prepare for the Superbowl in a little over a week’s time, where the world’s girlfriend, Taylor Swift, will be cheering you on from the stands, it’s difficult to imagine how life could possibly get any better.
Well, it turns out it can, for Kelce also happens to boast a haircut that men across the globe are reportedly flocking to barbers and requesting.
Jeffrey Dugas, a barber from New Brunswick, Canada, told The New York Times he has received a very specific request from clients in the past few weeks: the Travis Kelce cut.
“They usually come in with a picture of him,” Dugas says. “I’m like, ‘Yeah, I know who that is’.”
The style, a buzzcut fade, is the type any reputable barber and even some backyard or bathroom merchants could do with their eyes closed—my barber recently seemed to want to try that; the chat wasn’t great. “It’s basically zero on the side until you get to the top,” says Dugas. “It’s a fun, easy haircut that I can do in a quick 20 minutes.”
I can vouch for this as I also get a zero fade but with scissors on top and I’m usually in and out in 20. A buzz on top would be even faster, making it a great time to be a barber.
Of course, having a hairdo, even one as basic as Kelce’s, named after you is surely the high watermark of celebrity fame and fortune. It puts you on the Caesar, Aniston, Beckham, Jordan (yes shaving your head to negate baldness is a ’do) level. That’s where Kelce is right now. It almost doesn’t matter if he wins the Superbowl on Monday Feb 12 (Australian time), for when your hairdo is on this rarefied plane, you’re almost too big to fail. Kelce’s ‘do will likely have cultural endurance that sees it remembered long after the on-field results have faded from view—just look at Caesar.
Before we aim to land a unifying theory of the tight end’s haircut, let’s first examine the dynamics of the fade and the buzzcut individually, then look at the ways the two have come together to create an exquisite union on Kelce’s dome.
The fade has been firmly entrenched as a go-to hairstyle for young men in Australia for at least a decade, possibly longer, though it has its roots in the African-American community. Zero on the clippers is the default request, creating a stark duality on your dome between the severity of the back and sides and (hopefully) the lushness of the follicles on top. Needless to say it works particularly well for dudes blessed with lustrous locks.
The buzz cut, meanwhile, has Marine Corps origins. Traditionally you might opt for a 1 or 2 all over, but Kelce’s genius has been to combine the buzz with the fade. It signals strength, potency and importantly, virility. It’s a little threatening, possibly dangerous—it probably works better for guys like Kelce who have a rig to match, than it does for, say, spindly office workers. Add a beard, or at the very least, some robust stubble and you are basically screaming that you’re an alpha-male. As an exemplar, Kelce, the jock with the hot, successful girlfriend, is straight from central casting.
Now, on the downside, the look does require excessive maintenance. Let it go beyond two weeks and you lose that razor-sharp, stand-overman-on-a cold-night-in-Carlton vibe and need to get back to a barber stat. Indeed, I’ve often thought that given how many razor-sharp fades I see on the street, that many guys must be living in their barbers’ chairs. In contrast, I tend to let mine grow out to four to six weeks, feeling a little daggy from week three onwards, but unwilling to spend more on my ’do than is necessary, something I regard as more of a young man’s game.
This is probably where I’m going wrong and it’s here that we must return to the unifying theory of the Kelce cut. Hair makes the man. The confidence-boosting properties of a sick ’do have Samson-like flow-on effects to other areas of your life. It will never be proven but it’s difficult to see Kelce landing a lady like Tay-Tay, while leading his team (along, of course, with Patrick Mahomes) to the Superbowl, with a sub-par cut—yes, that’s an invitation for Ph.D. candidates.
Sure, you can argue these things are mutually exclusive. You’d be wrong. At a sub-atomic level, the making of a pop-cultural supernova begins and sometimes ends (in the case of Jordan) at the root of the follicle. To paraphrase Scarface’s Tony Montana: In America (and elsewhere), first you get the hair, then you get the girl.
By hair, I mean hair style. As any bald guy on any number of hair loss blogs will tell you, once you meet a retreating hairline with a one-weapon army of an electric shaver, long-dormant reserves of self-esteem, confidence and, in many cases swagger, begin to re-emerge—as someone who has fought a losing battle with hair loss since my teens, I’m looking forward to this injection of confidence but am waiting for a full-scale midlife crisis to initiate my self-esteem’s rebirth; it’s going to be epic.
But whether you’re blessed with lustrous locks or dwindling follicles, the point is, mastering your hair, either with a comb or a blade, allows you to take control of the rest of your life.
If Kelce should win the Superbowl, there will be no greater moment than when he takes off his accursed helmet to reveal his glorious warrior-athlete dome and cradles his superstar sweetheart. Should he fail, she will console her fallen hero. Either way, Travis Kelce can’t lose. And neither can barbers across the world.
Iconic athlete hairdos
All of Beckham’s ’dos
Beck’s has had as many iconic ’dos as he has superlative freekicks. The fauxhawk sported during the 2002 World Cup was a gamechanger (and barber’s nightmare, try doing that with your eyes closed) that saw suburban real estate agents and middle managers the world over walk a little taller.
The Brazilian Ronaldo was making his return from injury at the same World Cup and while many initially believed he sported this ridiculous ’do to answer the challenge posed by Beckham’s locks, il Phenomeno would get the last laugh, leading Brazil to victory in the World Cup and collecting the tournament’s Golden Boot.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s conventional ’do
If you are blessed with locks as fundamentally awesome as CR7’s why would you mess around with them?
Jordan owns baldness
Early pics of His Airness’ rookie year in the NBA show a fast retreating hairline. Jordan acted quickly and by 1987 had implemented a twice-weekly shaving routine that kept his dome pristine.
LeBron James fight back
Jordan’s great rival in the GOAT conversation has taken the opposite approach, instead reinstalling some kind of hairline façade that while mocked mercilessly at times online, doesn’t appear to have affected the King’s confidence in the slightest.
The Western Bulldogs’ midfield dynamo is not short on confidence and his mullet-mane is his calling card.
Andre Agassi’s mullet and dome
Few men have owned two more extreme ’dos as successfully as Andre Agassi. In Open, J.R. Moehringer’s seminal ghost written memoir of Agassi, the tennis player details how much he agonised over his thinning hair before eventually deciding to own it. He recently told Men’s Health: “I don’t miss any time I ever spent wasting on hair issues, including the worry of losing it.” Agassi, who also recently made fun of his mullet in an instant-classic Uber commercial, also said the secret to that hairstyle is: “You got to own it, man, like, full conviction. You can’t go halfway. Go big or go home.” That, in fact, is the secret to all hairstyles, and if you can manage it, the world is yours.