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The clean-shaven man is passe. Hail the bearded, rugged lumbersexual

Lumbersexual: a bearded, plaid-wearing, rugged dude. The clean-shaven, immaculately dressed man is passé. It’s now time for this new species to rule the fashion planet… and our hearts.

brunch Updated: Feb 17, 2015 12:53 IST
Satarupa Paul
Satarupa Paul
Hindustan Times

From left to right: Srinjay Thakur (Film-maker), Pranav Sawhney (Culture Manager, Hauz Khas Social), Pranav Mishra (Fashion Designer), Raman Rishi (Sculptor)

The last tinges of winter remain in the air. Four men meet at the Hauz Khas ruins, one of Delhi’s many gorgeous old archaeological remains. They have stylish haircuts – close crops in various degrees – and full manes of facial hair, artfully scruffy but far from shabby. Their beards become the ice breaker.

“I have heard a lot about your beard. I finally get to see it for real today,” says one. “How often do you trim yours?” asks another. “My beard gets in the way sometimes, like when I need to apply for a visa,” shares a third.

These men are confident in their slightly rugged appearance, they’re assured in their outdoorsy, off-to-the-woods look, and they’re happily oblivious to the glances they draw from passers-by – some curious, some admiring, and some downright flattering, especially from the girls.

These men, like their brethren all around the world, are the flavour of the season. They are what GearJunkie (“a top online publication for product reviews and news in the outdoor world (sic)”) named, in October last year, the lumbersexuals.

Who felled my trees?

A deviation of the clean-shaven, carefully groomed and styled look that was popularly known as the metrosexual, the lumbersexual look includes a carefully trimmed rugged beard or moustache that lends a rough edge but is not shabby.

The clothes are relaxed: fuss-free solids or plaid prints, casual outdoorsy jackets over denims or baggy pants, and tough shoes or boots. The overall appearance and the portmanteau word derive traditionally from the American lumberjack, off to fell trees and chop logs in the woods.

Our B-town boys like Ranveer Singh, Arjun Kapoor and Randeep Hooda have been essaying traces of the lumbersexual on-screen. “And now the regular urban Indian man is also increasingly becoming more conscious of his appearance and experimenting with changing trends,” says fashion designer Varun Bahl. “But not everyone would be able to carry off this laidback lumbersexual style very well as it suits only a certain body type.”

According to Bahl, men who are well-built, and have features that can carry off a certain ruggedness would do well to experiment with this appearance. “Styling is key; an edgy jacket and a carefully styled look channels lumbersexual dressing in a chic way rather than looking messy or sloppy,” says Bahl.

The lumbersexual man has an all-weather look that can easily transform from winter with plaid shirts, jackets and boots to summer with checked cotton shirts, khaki pants or shorts and loafers.

As for the beard, Pranav Sawhney, culture manager at Hauz Khas Social Offline (a coworking space and cafe) says, “You know these water coolers you use in summer in which you place hay to cool the water? My beard is like that hay. It traps the heat and doesn’t let it reach my face. It’s kept me cool through the summer; there’s never been a point where I have felt scratchy or extra sweaty because of my beard.”

Our favourites lumbersexuals

Beard is beautiful

The beard is the key to the look, and although it may not look so, a deliberate effort goes into maintaining it. “It doesn’t take too much effort, but you do need to trim it regularly to maintain a certain density and style so it doesn’t look shabby or unkempt,” says Raman Rishi, a sculptor.

His friend Srinjay Thakur, an independent filmmaker, says, “Many of my friends have started to follow this look after seeing us and after picking up elements from Pinterest. But maintaining the beard is the hard part. A friend of mine tried growing his beard this way for a while, got fed up, gave up and shaved it off.”

Currently, a lot of men in the creative sectors like advertising, films and art are taking to the lumbersexual look. It’s a big hit among those who travel often and are outdoors a significant amount of time. “I usually travel a lot. In the last one year, I have travelled for almost eight months on an average of 15-20 days at a stretch on different trips for shoots,” says Thakur. “At least, with this look, I don’t have to worry about having to shave.”

“I’d be glad to see even the formals-wearing corporate-types incorporating elements of this look in their being. Because I think it’s a very attractive look on men,” says fashion designer Anupama Dayal. “I find it very hot, very classic.”

Little metro, little jack

According to Bahl, “The Indian male has not completely embraced the lumber in lumbersexual. His look is cleaner, he has a softer side to his appearance, but is still slightly rugged, with perhaps that moustache or the bulky outdoorsy jacket.”

He says this can be best described as the ‘Metro Jack’ look,which takes the best of the metrosexual and lumbersexual. “He is someone who might go for a hike, build a bonfire and yet pop open a bottle of fine champagne while camping out in a luxury tent.”

Dayal agrees that the metrosexual is still very much there and the lumbersexual not quite. She says, “A metrosexual is a very easy look for the city-living; you make little changes to easily go from the work mode to the evening mode. The lumbersexual is a more weekend, getaway kind of look. They could very well co-exist.” She says that women re-invent themselves every day in keeping with their moods, lifestyles, and trends.

“One day, we wear a sari, the next day a short black dress. Comparatively, men hardly do much… they have fewer options, they seem less driven, which is a pity. When women enjoy style trends as a tool to brighten up their day, why shouldn’t men also have access? I think it’s time to make these trends co-exist in their lives, give them an option to choose.”

Fashion designer Pranav Mishra of Huemn seamlessly inculcates elements of the metrosexual and lumbersexual in his style. He features in the lead photograph dressed in a suit paired with canvas shoes and a floral T-shirt, with a sharp hairstyle and a sharper beard.

“My look has been received well,” he says.“But I think my beard gets more importance than me. It sometimes overtakes how you are seen as instead of what you actually are,” he says while lovingly stroking his beard.

The other 'sexuals'

Through the ages, neologosexuals (people who are obsessed with coining such new terms) have attributed different names to fashion trends that men have picked up and followed. See if you can spot any of the other 'sexuals'


The term derived from metropolitan and heterosexual. This meticulously groomed man takes a lot of care of his appearance, and spends significant amounts of time and money on it


This one dresses in an intellectual and formal yet artistic way. Often spotted at seminars and exhibitions


A well-groomed male obsessed with the latest technologies. Can be seen glued to his phone, tablet or any other gadget

(From left to right: Metrosexual, Technosexual, Sapiosexual)

He is masculine, confident, compassionate and stylish. But if he is gay, he apparently doesn’t qualify

This old-fashioned manly man embraces traditional masculine qualities, loves beer and football and cares little for his appearance

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From HT Brunch, February 15
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First Published: Feb 14, 2015 18:33 IST