The party is back? Edmonton hairstylists revel in the long-and-short revival of the mullet

The mullet has a grand history as the plumage of choice for many proud Albertans.

And it isn’t just plaid-loving, rustic folks who have worn the oft-mocked follicle helmet. Wayne Gretzky sported one during the Oilers’ golden era and the look later became a trademark for another beloved orange and blue alum, Ryan Smyth.

Now, according to two Edmonton hairstylists, city guys and gals alike are increasingly willing to give the iconic ‘do a whirl.

“I’m so happy it’s back,” Kahneka Burnett, a stylist at Limelight Hair Studio, said in an interview with CBC Radio’s Edmonton AM.

She said she’s seen lots of requests, running the gamut from turning curtain bangs into a shag before emerging as the glorious trim of 1970s prime Rod Stewart.

“People are really embracing it,” Burnett said.

A brightly-coloured mullet from Edmonton stylist Chelsea Kerr. (Submitted by Chelsea Kerr)

Many women, including Burnett herself, have adopted a modernized shag haircut. It’s a less-drastic version of the mullet, with longer layers on the face and around the top but maintaining a touch of business in the front.

But Burnett says mullets are a fun — and very customizable — haircut to work on.

“If you’re confident enough to rock it, I love it.”

While the mullet is most associated with the big hair 1980s, it’s had its fair share of ups and downs since then. Musicians Tegan and Sara donned matching ones in the late 2000s; more recently, Billie Eilish reportedly fashioned one out of a salon mishap.

Shortly after Tiger King‘s infamous Joe Exotic exploded onto the pop culture scene last year, the U.K. beauty and cosmetics website Cosmetify reported a 124 per cent increase in Google searches for “How To Cut A Mullet.”

Go big at home

Bonnie Bentley, a stylist in downtown Edmonton, said she’s seen about a 25 per cent increase in requests for mullets and shag haircuts over the last two years. 

Some mullets are also accented by bright, vibrant colours, she said.

Kahneka Burnett, a stylist at Limelight Hair Studio in Edmonton, shows off her shag cut, a modernized, softer version of a mullet (Supplied by Kahneka Burnett)

But Edmontonians have also been embracing their greys during the pandemic. Bentley said she would do full colours all the time previously but now about 70 per cent of her clients are keeping the natural look with some slight embellishments like highlights.

“Since they’ve had this time to sit and home and let their natural colour come out, I think they’re starting to actually enjoy that little a bit more because they haven’t seen it in years.”

The pandemic has played a major part in changing styles, she said, as Edmontonians go big while at home.

“I honestly think people are being more adventurous because they’re working from home now,” Bentley said.

“And I think people are kind of just saying, ‘Why not? If not now, then when?'”

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