Cholombianos of Monterrey

A typical Cholmbiano hairstyle

A Cholmbiano

I think it was whilst training as a barber that I first became aware of the Cholombianos of Monterrey, Mexico.  Like most youth sub-cultures, the Cholombianos are heavily influenced by music.  In this case, specifically Colombian music, called cumbia or vallenato which has a chilled out, mellow vibe.

In recent years Monterrey has suffered extreme violence at the hands of warring drug cartels.  It is also generally viewed to be the most Americanised city in Mexico.

typical fashion of the Cholombianos

Cholombiano fashion

Perhaps as a backlash against this, the Cholombianos have embraced peace and more Latino chilled out vibes rather than Americanised gangsta-rap, popular throughout the rest of Mexico.  The Cholombianos are a peace-loving non-violent culture, often mocked by society for the way they style themselves (well, it is rather outlandish!)

shaves at the back, short on top and long at the sides - typical Cholombiano hair

shaved at the back, short on top and long at the sides – typical Cholombiano hairstyles

Yet these are just young people trying to find their own style, that should surely be embraced.  Fashions include baggy pants and plaid shirts (so far so normal – teens across the world wear similar clothes), but uniquely they also wear hand made signs around their necks bearing their name, their neighbourhood and their favourite radio station.  I especially like the radio station bit, it’s like declaring that your musical taste is as integral to your identity as your own name.

The Cholombianos often wear hand made signs around their necks, stating their names, neighbourhoods and favourite radio stations

The Cholombianos often wear hand made signs around their necks, stating their names, neighbourhoods and favourite radio stations

Then there’s the hair.  Oh, the hair.  I have honestly never seen anything like it.  How good in this day and age to come up with a fashion that is truly unique.  I’m not saying it’s to my particular taste, but I’m glad that the style exists.

Plenty of gel to keep the sides in place.  I'm digging the little flicks at the end!

Plenty of gel to keep the sides in place. I’m digging the little flicks at the end!

The general idea is to keep hair relatively short at the back and on top, but have long, gelled side pieces, often appearing glued to their faces.  Yes, it’s easy to mock this style, especially when they all look so serious about it, but in reality these are non-violent peace-promoting kids who just want to listen to music and have a good time.  Who cares how they look when they have the right attitude to life?

* most of the pictures here are taken by Stefan Ruiz.  He made a cool video about photographing them.  You can watch it here.  See the Cholombianos from about halfway in.

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