October 11, 2012

Once just facial hair, staches now stylish

Retailers are cashing in on a fashion trend that's been growing right under their noses.

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Sarah Rabinowitz, top, and Sydney Pearl, sixth-graders at Falmouth Middle School, are heavily into the mustache craze and say they regularly wear fake staches to school. They own T-shirts, magnets, wallets, duct tape and other items with a mustache theme.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

20120927_Mustaches
click image to enlarge

Rachel McDonald, public relations intern at the Portland Museum of Art, left, and Glenda McKertich and Matthew Lorello, both visitor experience associates, ham it up around the Winslow Homer souvenirs display while wearing mustaches similar to those of the Maine artist.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

MUSTACHES AT THE MUSEUM

A wide variety of mustache merchandise -- some designed by Might & Main -- is being sold in the Portland Museum of Art gift shop in connection with an exhibit of work by the famous mustachioed artist Winslow Homer and the reopening of Homer's studio on Prouts Neck to public tours. Images of the products are online.

Homer Hat and 'Stache Onesie: Silkscreened onesie, printed here in Portland.
Designed for the PMA by Might & Main. $22

Winslow Homer Nodder (aka Bobblehead)
: Designed for the PMA by Might & Main.
$32

Homer Hat and 'Stache Stainless Steel Bookmark
: Made in the USA by Pink
Tank. Designed for the PMA by Might & Main. $12.95

Winslow's Whiskers: Designed for the PMA by Might & Main. $3.95

Mustache Eraser: produced by Kikkerland. $1

MUSTACHE MANIA

Images of mustaches appear as style elements today on everything from jewelry and gift wrap to drink stirrers and bandages. Here’s some of the stache stuff sold at Cool As a Moose stores in Portland, Freeport, Brunswick and Bar Harbor:

Stylish mustaches, $9.99

Mustache candy, $5.99

Mustache bandages, $5.99

Mustache ornament, $6.99

Mustache ice cube tray, $12.99

Mustache and monocle bamboo bag, $9.99

Mustache gift wrap, $4.99

Mustache lollipops, $4.99

Car/fridge mustache magnet, $14.99

Gauer said such trends usually start on the West Coast. Cool As a Moose uses two major suppliers in Washington state, Gauer said, so its buyers were able to "jump on" the trend when they saw it.

In Portland, the popularity of mustaches and mustache merchandise is linked to a four-year-old event called Stache Pag, held at a different Portland night spot each year.

The event is a pageant in which wearers of actual mustaches compete against each other in categories such as "The Magnum P.I.," with proceeds going to charity. (The "Magnum P.I.", for those of you under 40, is a reference to a 1980s crime-drama TV show that made Tom Selleck the star he is today.)

The mustache merchandise trend has surfaced in some interesting ways around southern Maine, beginning in August when the super-hip rock band Mumford & Sons played a day-long festival on Portland's Eastern Promenade, drawing more than 15,000 people.

A mustachioed gentleman in a top hat was being used as a logo for the British band's "Gentlemen of the Road" tour, so local promoters used mustaches all over the concert site -- on signs, on stickers, on tickets, wherever they could put them.

Later in August, at the annual Picnic Music + Arts Fair in Portland's Lincoln Park, many local craftspeople showed up with mustache creations of their own. Sean Wilkinson, a graphic designer and an organizer of the fair, remembers seeing mustache pillows and a wooden car shaped like a mustache.

Wilkinson thinks the mustache trends -- both real ones and merchandise -- are influenced by the eternal cycle of things becoming cool because they are not cool, only to become not cool again once they become too cool.

"Mustaches are one of those hipster trends that starts because it's not cool. So when it becomes cool, the hipsters will rebel against it," said Wilkinson.

Thank goodness, then, for 11-year-old girls, who aren't under the same pressure as hipsters to seek out things that are not cool.

Neither are art lovers, who have been gobbling up mustache items at the Portland Museum of Art this fall. A wide variety of mustache merchandise -- some designed by Wilkinson's company, Might & Main -- is being sold in the museum gift shop in connection with an exhibit of work by the famous mustachioed artist Winslow Homer and the reopening of Homer's studio on Prouts Neck to public tours.

A sampling of the stache stuff at the museum: Homer Hat and 'Stache Coaster Set, $5.95; Homer Hat and 'Stache Onesie, $22; and Winslow's Whiskers (fake stache), $3.95.

Museum officials say they were at least slightly influenced by the national mustache merchandise craze to come up with all those funny products connected to Homer, whose work is taken very seriously by art critics and fans alike. Homer did, after all, rock a pretty sizable stache.

But even if you don't know your Homers from your Van Goghs, it's easy for most folks to spot a fun, slightly weird trend. And mustache merchandise has always been a favorite with kids. Think about fake mustaches and all the fun kids have had with them over the years.

"Fake mustaches are always fun. I had them when I was a kid, so I'd say they're here to stay," said Wilkinson, who's 34. "You put on a fake mustache, and suddenly you're Magnum, P.I."

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

rrouthier@pressherald.com

 

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