If you grew up in the 80s and were into the punk scene of the time, there is a good chance you may have rocked the “Mohawk”, or at least were friends with someone who did.
Mohawks were a popular 80s punk fashion hairstyle that looks like a feline’s hair standing on end. In the 80s big hair was en vogue, and you couldn’t really do it much bigger than a mohawk.
Despite the fact that it is called Mohawk, this hairstyle is based on porcupine’s hair rather than that of a Native American tribe. The origin of Mohawks is not known with certainty, but some people say they first appeared in England around 1815.
Back then, British soldiers, known for their bravery and ferocity, were nicknamed “the tigers” by people around them. Soon the soldiers’ haircuts came to be known as “Mohawk’s.”
The Mohawks that appeared in England were not like the original ones. It was only after the punk movement in the United States in the 1970s when Mohawks became popular. The punk movement was, in its turn, influenced by the hippies’ hairdo.
Mohawks became very popular among punks over time, and were even included in the punk law of the 1970s: hair should be painted in all colors except black (it was considered too ordinary). Later on, even red hair dye came to be avoided for the sake of punk originality.
Mohawks gained more popularity in the 1980s due to numerous music videos that were showing punks with this hairstyle. Some of the most popular punks at that time had Mohawks, for example, Misfits and GBH band members.
Another famous musician of the 1980s that promoted the spread and popularity of Mohawks was Michael Alago, a music mogul and talent scout. He was the one to give the world-famous band called “MTV”, their name as well as their haircuts. As he says, it happened in 1984 when he spotted a young punk by the name of Jonze from Blondie with his cut-in Mohawk at CBGB’s restaurant.
In the 1980s, Mohawks also became a military fashion for some time. In the mid-1980s, punk army haircut was at its peak in Italy and France that caused quite a stir. It was not just punks that had Mohawks, but also soldiers of the special forces.
Another reason for the popularity of this hairdo among punks was its convenience: it takes not more than five minutes to make a Mohawk, and it doesn’t require any special equipment.
Mohawks became popular not only among punks but also people who were trying to imitate them (so-called weekend punks). When the punk movement started to lose its popularity, Mohawks were adopted by different subcultures. For example, Goths began to prefer them not only in the form of headbands but also as complete hairstyles.
Mohawks also became popular among footballers and rugby players. By the end of the 1980s, Mohawks became widespread among both men and women in general. The hairstyle even moved out of its original circles when it started to appear frequently among businessmen (from well-established ones to top managers).
One more reason why Mohawks became so popular in the 1980s was their high durability: Mohawks could be made using both natural and artificial hair, which meant they could be preserved for a long time.
At present, just like in times of their appearance, Mohawks are still popular with the youth. However, today they are not only found among rockers and punks but also hipsters, skaters, athletes, and other representatives of various subcultures.