Shag 2.0 Is a Cross-Generational Viral Phenomenon: Even though the 2020s are still a few years away, the shag—in all of its many viral incarnations—has already established itself as one of the major beauty trends of the decade. Stars like Jane Fonda, David Bowie, and Tina Turner wore the thickly layered cut, which first gained popularity in the 1970s and perfectly captured the rebellious spirit of the time. Today, elaborately fringed appearances in a variety of forms, sizes, and textures are widely welcomed, further expanding the shag’s boundary-pushing appeal. Furthermore, the shag is addressing all generations with this speech rather than simply the younger ones.
Shag 2.0 Is a Cross-Generational Viral Phenomenon
Shagged cuts have received billions of views on social media; some examples are mullet, shixie, octopus, butterfly, wolf cut, etc. Why are Gen Z TikTokers drawn to these textured chops? According to activist and GenZ Girl Gang founder Deja Foxx, 23, the shag and its various offshoots are a means for emerging adults to start a new chapter in their lives. Change your hair, change your life, as the adage goes.
“Making a bold and rebellious hairstyle can feel very empowering when you still have a lot of options for who you can be,” says Foxx, whose path toward a ’70s-style shag was chronicled in the Emmy-nominated TikTok, Boom. Gen Z is reinventing the classic cut, from celebrities like Jenna Ortega and Billie Eilish, who popularized the wolf cut (a choppier, new-age mullet), to influencers like Foxx and Bretman Rock, with their fluttery Farrah Fawcett-esque layers. It’s all about embracing one’s natural hair texture, showcasing bold shapes, and adding your unique touch to the ensemble. “People may argue that Generation Z recycles a lot of trends, but we do it in a way that makes these classic, nostalgic looks unique to us,” adds Foxx.
Celebrity hairstylist Ursula Stephens, who transformed 25-year-old model Anok Yai with a shaggy pixie cut earlier this year, says, “Just like with fashion, everything comes back and evolves, and every new generation adds their sprinkle it.”
However, you don’t have to be a member of Generation Z to adopt their way of thinking. Stephens continues, “The shag just says that you’re a risk-taker.” She has been creating several versions of the shag for her clientele, such as Natasha Lyonne (jellyfish cut) and Jodie-Turner Smith (grunge mullet). Fearless self-expression has no age restrictions these days.
Ask Edward Tricomi, who co-founded the New York City Warren Tricomi salon. Tricomi, who has been cutting shags for over 50 years, claims that when the cut initially became popular in the 1970s, it represented adolescent counter-culture and was dubbed the “fuck you” haircut. For both younger and older generations, it’s still radical, but even more so for the latter.
The French actress Isabelle Huppert, 70, made her front-row debut at Milan Fashion Week in February. Molly Ringwald, 55, has a new jagged red hairstyle. Tricomi recently chopped it up with his wife, who is in her sixties, and his 75-year-old friend and customer, the renowned makeup artist Sandy Linter. They’re defying outdated notions about what hair “after a certain age” should resemble.
“It’s an extremely versatile haircut,” remarks Linter, who has worn a shag intermittently since renowned hairstylist Mr. Kenneth gave her a look influenced by Jane Fonda in the 1972 film Klute. She underlines, “It can look good on a 75-year-old woman; it can look punk, it can look rock ‘n’ roll.” A shag later in life, in Linter’s words, conveys the message, “I’m not done.”
It all comes down to individualism, from the cut to the way it’s worn and styled, regardless of how the shag is assisting someone in challenging the status quo. According to Tricomi, “the shag of the 1970s is very different from the shag of today.” He points out that more precise “chipping layers” to create a more customized and manageable look are made possible by more recent hair-cutting procedures. Celebrity hairstylist Mischa G, who owns the salon Treehouse Social Club in East Village, distinguishes between “hair-dressing” and “hair-doing” in the modern era. “Many shags today are wash-and-wear with natural texture, whereas the shags of the ’70s and early ’80s were more dressed with rollers, teasing, backcombing, and tons of hairspray for that disco more-is-more feeling,” she says.
By 2023, everyone can take advantage of the shag. It’s all about experimenting and having fun, whether you choose to splice up your natural lengths or use wigs or hairpieces to assist you in getting your desired fringed style. According to Mischa G., “there is a way to make it suitable for every gender, hair texture, and age.” It can be styled reminiscent of the ’70s with rollers and an abundance of products or dressed up or down. It can also be air-dried for comfort and freedom. It can evoke anything you want these days.