Men kept off their barbers. [Shutterstock]

“Someone tell me this is Nicolas Cage and not the Mullah himself. Is he planning to appear in a blockbuster movie as the head of a cabal?” posed a Twitter user, commenting on lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi’s post, which showed him with a beard. That was last year.

The bushy beard is becoming a new trend in town as men from all walks of life kept away from their barbers as Covid-19 pandemic social distancing rules became a new normal. Now, 12 months on, long rusty beards are the in-thing. 

John Mwangi, who runs a barbershop in the heart of Nairobi, says between March and May 2020, his clients barely came for their regular cuts. “Business is still slow. House calls have become a big sustaining action. I have not seen many of my regular customers in months.”

Read Also: Five major reasons why men should never shave their beard

And as facemasks and social distancing turned into a reality, communication was greatly affected. It became hard to read facial expressions - that play a major role in facilitating interpersonal communication.

This affected the way of life as cultural and social norms such as shaking hands and hugging was avoided.

“It was really hard trying to convince my grandmother that I could not shake her hand because of social distancing the first time I traveled at home after Covid came. She took offense as culturally, that is a sign of disrespect, even as I explained that I was protecting her as she is of the vulnerable age,” says Joan Mwikali, a 35-year-old Nairobi dweller.

Masks. [Shutterstock]

This affected the way of life as cultural and social norms such as shaking hands and hugging started getting avoided. At times, people would even hardly recognize others behind the mask and would even end up getting embarrassed when they could not respond appropriately to friends they could not notice.

“It was really hard trying to convince my grandmother that I could not shake her hand because of social distancing the first time I traveled at home after Covid came. She took offense as culturally, that is a sign of disrespect, even as I explained that I was protecting her as she is of the vulnerable age,” says Joan Mwikali, a 35-year-old city dweller.

In the spirit of innovation, some manufacturers opted to come up with transparent face masks while others made fashion statements with trendy ones that could even match their apparel.      

Read Also: Covid-19: Why cloth masks will not help, ministry

It was a season of new fashion trends and unusual image transformation as the face mask became the new fashion trend in town. And from small to celebrated fashion stables like Prada, Louis Vuitton and Dior became mask-creating centres. For some, co-opting their brands into the face mask became a way of marketing themselves and pushing their social media ‘likes’.

In the spirit of innovation, some manufacturers came up with transparent face masks, and the fashion-conscious made statements with trendy ones match their clothes.  

It was a season of new fashion trends and unusual image transformation as the face mask became the new fashion trend in town.

From small to celebrated fashion stables like Prada, Louis Vuitton and Dior, they all became mask-creating centres. For some, co-opting their brands into the face mask became a way of marketing themselves and pushing their social media ‘likes’.

Like every other sector, the fashion industry was hit hard by the pandemic with leading fashion stores shutting down. One of the big shockers was an announcement by Forever 21, the go-to retailer for the latest trends and styles with headquarters in Los Angeles, California, of the closure of 200 of its stores.

A Forever 21 store. [Courtesy