With Istanbul’s Fashion Week just around the corner, the ladies are geared up to catch local expressions of global trends. Meanwhile, with men, one trend has not lost its popularity for several seasons now: the mustache. In fact, the mustache — much more a symbolic line of cultural division than a fashion accessory — has always been a controversial political symbol in Turkey. It is a story worth taking a look at.
In Turkish history, Ottoman men, as Sunni Muslims, usually had shaved heads or closely cropped hair. Particular rank or occupation determined the kind of turban or head covering. Only the “mature” male, a trait that was not always determined by age, but rather by power, could grow a beard. The practice of the Prophet Muhammad also recommended a certain length of beard. Later, secularization and Westernization in the Republican era discouraged the veil and the beard — and even banned them for state officials — because of religious connotations.