Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

'Establishment' wigs an aid to young men in the 1970s

‘Establishment’ wigs an aid to young men in the 1970s

Gabe Kanata is shown with his real hair, left, and with his short hair “establishment” wig.

These Rick Browne photos accompanied an article by Robert Rawitch in the Aug. 12, 1970, edition of the Los Angeles Times:

Young men who have spent months, even years, cultivating long hair have found a new way to straddle the line between the straight world that rejects them because of their appearance and the mod world that embraces them for their rebellious spirit.

They are buying short hair wigs to cover their long hair when dealing with the Establishment.

Some consider long hair fashionable. Others see it as an easily recognizable symbol of being a rebel or a member of the hip generation.

But the problems of a young man who chooses to wear his hair long can be serious.

– Many are ordered by their employers to get a haircut or a new job.

– Students who repeatedly refused to comply with dress code regulations regarding hair length in some school districts are often suspended from school.

– Men in the National Guard and the Army Reserve have often come perilously close to being put on active duty for continuous violation of haircut regulations.

– Some judges have been known to go tougher on long-haired youths, often requiring as part of a sentence that they cut their hair.

Many men have given up fighting society’s resistance to long hair and have chosen to compromise. They wear short hair wigs while at work, in school or making a court appearance — and then let their own hair down to “freak out” on weekends and when on their own time.

For Army reservists and members of the National Guard, the newfound compromise was short-lived.

Recently the Department of the Army outlawed the use of hair pieces, except for men who are bald or who desire a wig to cover physical disfigurations caused by an accident or medical procedure.

But others wear the short wigs with no problem.

Gabe Kanata, a 19-year-old aspiring drum player who works as a stock clerk, had to make an appearance in a Las Vegas court.

“Judges just don’t dig long hair,” said Kanata, who spent $40 to cover hair that had not been cut in 18 months.

“It’s a hassle when it’s hot. It gets in your face and all, but it’s worth it. I think I just look better with long hair. It sets me away from the everyday Establishment types.”  …

Just exactly who started the fad and when it first surfaced is impossible to pinpoint. About a year ago, simultaneously around the country, wig manufactures were approached by customers seeking some type of wig that would cover long hair.

Most of those seeking the short hair wigs are not what most people would call hippies, wig stylists say, but just young men — usually between 18 and 25 — who want to grow their hair long.

Nick Setlock, who handles short-hair wigs for Michelangelo, a wig salon on Hollywood Boulevard, said he sells about 20 wigs each week to everyone from Civil Service employees to professional men, such as dentists, doctors, lawyers and stockbrokers.

Alex Pollack, a stylist at Sir of Hollywood, another men’s wig salon, said his first request for short hair wigs came from a rock and roll group.

“They were going on tour over in Europe and had heard of some problems people with long hair were having. So they asked us if we could design something that would cover their hair so they wouldn’t have any problems with customs officials,” Pollack said.

Sir of Hollywood dubbed their new product “establishment wigs.”  …

No comments yet

Add a comment or a question.

If you are under 13 years of age you may read this message board, but you may not participate. Here are the full legal terms you agree to by using this comment form.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they've been approved.


Required, will not be published

Browse All Photos »