Trends come and go, others make a comeback and the high top fade haircut has re-emerged in popularity as it is the most common hairstyle in the generation of young adults, musicians and fashionistas worldwide even in Botswana. A high top fade or flat top is a style of haircut where hair on the sides is trimmed off and hair on the top is longer and shaped. According to Osman Muhammed, who specializes in haircuts at VIP gentleman’s club salon in Gaborone, the high top fade is the latest hair trend and something fashionable now. “60% of my young customers do the hairstyle. Even women nowadays do the hairstyle accompanied by a line on the side and call it the Mandela hairstyle. Most of my clients either prefer the size 1 fade or a size 4 accompanied by a line in the front to elaborated scenery in the back to an asymmetrical slope known as the Gumby worn by artists like R&B star Bobby Brown),” he said.
Will Smith on the American sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-air and MC Hammer, favoured the hairstyle in the late 80s and early 90s while locally afro house group, Team Distant ‘s members spot it. Speaking to Time Out about their hairstyle’s inspiration they said, “The hairstyle is part of the group’s image. We call it the classical phankga and goes in line with how we would like to position ourselves as a musical group (Africans). The plan is to maintain the haircut, it is timeless and we’ve added more features to it for example lines and dreads to make it unique. Our barber is Gokagiso based in Rail park and his other clients always ask for the ‘Team Distant’ haircut.”
In the hip hop community, one of the first public appearances of the more modern hi-top fade hairstyles was in the “Tramp” video by Salt-N-Pepa, released early in 1987. In this video, the dancers could be seen with this hairstyle. It is also believed that the High-Fade derives from Ancient Egypt as Queen Nefertiti’s famous Empress Headpiece resembles the High-Fade form. The style really fell out of fashion in 1997.
Muhammed who has 20 years experience as a barber and has done haircuts on celebrities such as Khuli Chana, HHP and Casper Nyovest when they are in town explained the origin of the haircut saying, “It originated between the 80’s and was a common hairstyle among the African-American community. At the time, hi-top fades became more massive and ‘higher’ along with differences in shape and designs. The hi-top was still semi-popular through the early 1990s but many people started to move toward the bulky hairstyles like Afro’s.”