September 25, 1910: Barbers worry about the “danger” of the pompadour making comeback

On this day in Duluth in 1910, the Duluth News Tribune reported that national officials were concerned that the pompadour hair style would make a comeback, something they would consider “dangerous.” A. C. Mendell, district organizer of the Journeyman Barbers’ International Union of American, told the paper that “all barbers dread the coming of the day when the pompadour again becomes popular.” The pompadour, according to Mendell, is very difficult to cut and it takes much time as the hair must be cut to just the right length on top or it will show as botch. Then, too, many will order their hair cut that way when it was never intended for any such style. Fine hair won’t stand up and curly hair is almost impossible to trim into a good pompadour.” He indicated that trends come and go, saying “Van Dykes were popular a few years ago. At one time every man who could raised a mustache and now some change is good. I shouldn’t be very much surprised if I lived to see the present popular smooth face pass into a thick growth of underbrush.” Mendell also mentioned that the advent of the safety razor would not result in loss of business with more men shaving at home than having a barber perform the exfoliation. “We have no fight with them” he assured reader. “Most men try them, throw them away, and come back to the shops.” If only Mendell had lived to see America today, where many hipsters now sport pompadour-and-beard combinations and modern safety razors have up to five blades.

More than 100 years after his warning, Journeyman Barbers’ International Union of America official A. C. Mendell’s fears that pompadours would make a comeback have become a reality.