Lockdown locks: how the hime haircut zoomed to popularity

Lockdown has transformed our hair. From the lockdown fringe to the shaggy mullet, multi-purpose hairstyles that translate well on Zoom have grown in popularity, and the latest haircut, the hime, is no different.

The style, featuring bluntly cut straight side-locks and a front fringe, has been worn by Haim at the Grammys and Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez in more feathered versions. It was also seen on the Prada catwalk during their autumn/winter 2021 collection. On TikTok, the hashtag #himecut has about 4m views, while #hime has more than 126m.

“The popularity of the cut [is] down to lockdown,” said Rachael Gibson, who runs the Instagram account the Hair Historian, “and our ongoing communication through screens – hair that makes a statement from the shoulders up, from the front, is definitely trending.” Irene Shelley, the editor of Black Beauty and Hair magazine, added: “Seventies-style layers suit the low maintenance styles of grown-out lockdown hair.”

The style feeds into more of our lives being lived online too. “It combines elements of anime and a fantastical, futuristic style which taps into the ongoing e-girl trend,” said Gibson. Like the mullet, the style is bold in the way it plays with contrasting lengths and provokes strong reactions.

“The hime haircut is a definite style statement and like the mullet is two haircuts in one,” said Shelley. “You can pull the longer layers back into a ponytail and you’ll still have a face-framing fringe and sides.”

It might also be a nod to Cher, who sported the cut in the 1960s (and has proved to be an aesthetic muse recently), but the origin of the style is centuries older than that. The name comes from the Japanese “princess cut” after the noblewomen who wore the style during the Heian period of Japanese history (c 794 to 1185). “These shortened front lengths would have been cut during the ceremony of Binsogi, an event that celebrates coming of age with a haircut,” said Gibson.

Knowing its origin, is the cut cultural appropriation? “I don’t think that it [is],” said Shelley. “Unless the hime is renamed to something like the ‘step cut’, most people will know that it originated in Japan by the nature of the name,” she says.

“I think people object to cultural appropriation where no credit is given to the originators and the trend is passed off as brand new because it’s seen on a celebrity.”