Exeter Uni Takes on The Mullet

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Mullets originally became popular in the 80s with people seeking a “business in the front, party in the back” hairstyle. However, in the 90s there was a decline of people wanting to rock the mullet, leaving it in the gutter completely in the noughties, with no one particularly keen to jump on the mullet bandwagon. Today, the style is making a comeback.

Let’s take a look at its peak. In the 80s, a plethora of superstars donned a mullet – for example, Rod Stewart, David Bowie and Paul McCartney, who led the trend as fashion icons. David Bowie was a particularly flamboyant figure whose style and look often did not conform to conservative gender norms. The mullet, being both short and long, could be used to express gender fluidity – is this the reason for its 2019 comeback?

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These days, mullets can be spotted all over the Forum. It’s obvious they have made a revival, which poses the question: why? Is this becoming a part of Exeter culture? What is Exeter culture? We had a look around the Forum to see exactly what the Exeter style was. We’re sure no one will be surprised that amongst the lacrosse sticks, Schoffels and Pret sandwiches, we noted an unusually large number of flares, skater jeans, turtle necks, Depop jumpers and scrunchies. Freshers don’t always arrive looking like this; they develop the ‘Exetah’ style over the course of their first year, suggesting the 80s look is intrinsic in Exeter. The popularity of the 80s style goes hand in hand with the return of the mullet. To get down to the bottom of why Exeter loves its 80s so much, we did a little digging and asked people with mullets to answer the question – why?

On asking Tom, 2nd year, why he recently decided to take on the hairstyle, he told us he got it to raise money for charity because, and we quote: “life is a river and I just ride it” … but he was also inspired by AFL player Bailey Smith. Could this suggest our generation is indeed still highly influenced by the hairstyles of celebrities?

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Max, 2nd year, who recently had a mullet but no longer dons the style, told us he “thought it would be jokes” and copied his friends who also thought the style was a bit of fun. Max modernised the mullet with racing stripes to add his own touch – could this suggest the mullet is a hairstyle for those who want to show individuality and something different?

James, 3rd year, had a slightly different take on his reasons for the mullet: “I think it very much fits with my 80s style – it’s something different and, although they can be funny, they’re actually catching on”.

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We found it interesting to discover that all three of our interviewees were from London. There’s a lot of diversity in the city, which could explain their willingness to attempt the hairstyle.

So, we have gathered that fashion as a means of expression is important to students. The 80s fashion movement was defined by expression, individuality and a bit of flare. Perhaps this is the reason why so many students take on the style of the 80s. With the resurgence of the 80s aesthetic, could we expect to see the return of the high ponytail, bangs and back-combed hair as people find new ways to express themselves? In the near future, perhaps we will see the mullet overtaking curtains as the newest popular ‘Exetah’ style.

– Charlotte Weston and Katie Legister

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