Thursday 7th April, 2005


Men and canerows

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England footballer David Beckham in canerows.

Top: The Noel family in canerows done by their mother, stylist Leslie Ann.
RIGHT: A close up of one of the canerow styles.
Photos: Lester Forde

By Essiba Small

Men wearing canerows is nothing new. But the styles have come a long way from the days when Gene Anthony Ray wore his rumpled jumbo canerows all back to play dancing machine Leroy on the television series Fame.

Today’s canerow styles are more intricate.

The partings that separate the plaits are no longer straight. They are zigzagged, circled or in steps, or feature canerows overlapping each other like the weave of a basket.

Hairstylist Germaine Williams, of Gee’s New Hair Concept in Woodbrook, thinks the appeal of canerows among today’s young men may have to do with taming their unruly afros.

“It gives them a certain amount of control. Instead of doing boring things with hair this is a way of giving them another look.”

Petit Bourg hairstylist Leslie Ann saw it differently.

The mother of boys, all of whom wear their hair in canerows, Leslie Ann, who also specialises in weaving techniques said that for her boys it’s all about style.

“It have nothing to do with growing their hair or nothing.

“They just see those rappers wearing canerows and they want that look.

“And the girls like it.”

Ludacris, Xhibit, Stevie Wonder, R Kelly, D’Angelo, Michael Ealy and reigning Road March monarch Shurwayne Winchester are among the male canerow-wearing celebrities.

Hair chameleon and Real Madrid hottie David Beckham also wore canerows for a short period. His were purely for style.

For Philadelphia 76ers basketball player Allen Iverson the switch to canerows was about convenience.

“I guess I was just tired of getting haircuts on the road, things like that, when I can just get a girl to braid it and it will stay done for a while. I guess that’s it,” Iverson told reporters, during the Schick Rookie Challenge in 1997.

Iverson has been known to “sample” many different canerow styles.

Winchester, who also wore his hair low for years, accidentally discovered canerows while tweaking his on-stage image.

“I wanted to find that image that suited me. The low haircut I had was neat but it was limiting.”

With canerows, he said, he was able to experiment with different hairstyles.

“(Canerows) seem unlimited to me.”

Winchester’s braidist Corinne (”she might not want me giving you guys her last name”) canerows his hair two to three times every fortnight.

Winchester admits that this may seem often but insists it’s necessary.

“When you are performing on stage you sweat in the scalp and the hair starts to look untidy. For me, doing my hair this often is a matter of grooming and personal hygiene.”

When he is on tour, Winchester gets his hair done at salons in the country or state where he is performing.

“I wish I could take Corinne with me, though,” he said with a laugh.“Because it is hard to get someone to do my hair like her.”

The cost and care of canerows

Men, be warned: this is not your barbershop cut. Canerows are time-consuming. Women can tell stories about having to sit from three to six hours while a braidist pulls and tugs at their roots.

For a man it can take from two hours to four hours to complete.

Soca star Shurwayne Winchester usually spends from one hour to close to two hours whenever he goes to his braidist Corinne.

But, as he explained, the visit involved more than plaiting his hair—grooming is also involved.

“She also washes my hair, trims the ends and applies oil to the scalp before she starts the canerows.”

Germaine Williams of Gee’s New Concept was in praise of men taking care of their canerows.

“The rules are the same for the men as they are for the women,” she said.

“Hair should be washed every week and hair re-done every two weeks. A moisturiser will help control dryness. I would suggest applying that to the scalp every other day.”

The cost of canerows varies from hairdresser to hairdresser and depends on the style and the length of the hair.

“I can start charging from $30 for a normal canerow style,” Leslie Ann said.

“My prices range from $30 upwards. It all depends on the style.”

Corporate frown on canerows

In the workplace, canerows are not as widely accepted for the man as the short-cropped do.

In banks, for instance, men wearing canerows are frowned upon.

At Republic Bank there is a corporate dress code policy that is generated from the Human Resource Department.

It states: “Hairstyles for both male and females must be simple at all times. Excessive fashion trends/fads in hairstyles are not allowed.”

At First Citizens Bank a representative from the corporate communications department said guidelines were also set for its employees.

“There are some guidelines that our male employees have to follow when it comes to grooming.”

The bank’s policy is that staff behave like professionals and look like them.

The Employers Consultative Association believes hairstyles may be less important than an employee’s sense of professional behaviour.

“Dress codes tend to be very general in nature because we, as employers, have to be conscious of the changing times we live in, for men and for women” said Linda Besson, ECA executive director in a telephone interview.

“But we have to have guidelines as to what is or is not acceptable. You can be neat and tidy, and look as professional as you can, regardless of what choice of hairstyle you choose.

“The most important thing is people’s performance on the workplace, customer service, regardless of their hairstyle.


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