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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Hey man, what are you wearing on your face this season?

If you've been keeping up with facial hair fashion trends, you know we've been chin-deep in lumberjack scruffle. But this season, the ironic beard is usurped by the even-more ironic mustache.

I first discovered the mustache thing when I was in Chicago last August. Every time I saw a bike ride by, I had handlebar double-vision.

I thought at first it was just a regional variant, but now I know the mustaches have trickled down to the Dirty South.

Whether it's thin like a pencil, curved like Dali's or creepy like a sex offender's, Gainesville's fashion-forward faces are increasingly graced with sweet ‘staches.

Take for instance Raul Prado, 23, who was recently a model during Gainesville Fashion Week.

Prado said he'd always stayed baby-smooth until fashion week officials directed him to stop. When they gave him raving responses over his new "epic mustache," he decided he would keep it.

"Two of my coworkers have started growing them now," Prado said, recognizing his trend-setter position.

Matt Everhart, 24, has worn his mustache for eight months and loves it, but admits his little friend's popularity is sometimes overshadowing.

"There's a man behind the mustache," he said. "I've started telling people (on the street), ‘Listen, my eyes are up here.'"

Although some men might feel burdened by the attention a mustache commands, others, like Alex Orlando, are thrilled to show it off.

"I can't live without this thing," Orlando said. It's my best friend." He understands the power a ‘stache can yield. After all, his girlfriend, Erin Rauch, places it high on her list of endearing qualities.

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"It's fun to kiss. It tickles," Rauch said. "It's not a burden. It's a nice little addition. I mean, if he gets rid of it we're breaking up."

Of course, every fashion movement has its critics at first, like 22-year-old Ashley Harvin.

"I think they make guys look like ‘70s porn stars," she said. "It's gross."

It's negativity like this that made Joel Kienitz, also known around town as DJ JeRK, shave his experimental lip-accessory after only two weeks.

"A lot of people liked it, but I was getting a lot of weird looks from girls," Kienitz said. "I thought it was awesome, but it was too tough for me on the fashion frontlines."

Although haters are going to hate no matter what, the reality is that there's no stopping a trend in motion.

Even Google knows the whisker-wind is changing direction. Carefully studying Google trends' term-tracking tool, a steady increase in searches for "mustaches" started mid-2009 and continues strong into this summer.

So, whether you love them or hate them, prepare yourselves for the mustache madness that is heading our way.

"I think they're an inspiring tradition, the symbol of a civilized and progressive man," said mustache enthusiast Loic Robertson. "If I could grow one, I would."

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