Hair shows are trade shows that focus on hair design and products and are held regionally, nationally, and internationally. Generally only open to hair professionals (cosmetology students, barbers, hairstylists, and salon professionals), they feature competitions, product and technique demonstrations, business seminars, hair runway shows, sales, and opportunities for professional development. Organized by trade associations and sponsored by styling product vendors, trade show displays represent a significant investment by vendors seeking to market new or emerging products. As with other trade shows, hair shows include numerous demonstrations, sampling, and competition opportunities for hair care professionals.
While many trade fairs are being presented virtually or online, none yet approach the large-scale productions and elaborate settings of the live hair shows. Online sources are currently used as advertising sites for the content and locations of hair shows and also act as marketing sources for products and techniques demonstrated at the hair shows. Bonika Shears’s Web site http://www.bonika.com lists 28 hair shows, classes, and symposia where the company’s products may be found. The site also includes listings of shows geared toward nonwhite audiences and clients.
One of the largest live hair shows, the International Beauty and Barber Show, draws 50,000–70,000 international attendees to New York and is credited with being the first to launch the hairstyle trends of the bob, marcel, kiss curl, and pageboy.
Others large shows include America’s Beauty Show in Chicago and HairWorld, which holds annual events in the United States and Europe featuring Olympicstyle international individual and team competitions. Several shows are geared specifically to African American hair professionals, including the American Health and Beauty Aids Institute (AHBAI), Proud Lady Beauty Show, and the Bronner Bros. International Hair Show. One of the most esteemed and exclusive hair shows on an international scale is the Intercoiffure Mondial World Congress, which is held in cities around the globe and is by invitation only. In 2002, international hair product company Wella sponsored “the first hair show in the Middle East” in Dubai.
While little is known about the larger history and development of the hair show, the first on record is the International Hair Show, held in New York in 1917. However, the Bronner Bros. hair product company, based in the Atlanta, Georgia, area credits itself with inventing the concept, and holding its first event in Atlanta with 300 attendees in 1947.
Competitions held in conjunction with hair shows vary widely and include hair cutting, hairstyling, manicuring, nail sculpturing, and pedicuring. Often categorized by level of experience, from long-time professional to student, competitions are limited by entry fees and include prizes of money, trophies, and/or photographs of winning works featured in trade publications and online. The category called fantasy hair and nail competitions can be the most visually interesting, with styles that defy gravity and include a variety of colors, patterns, and objects.
A platform artist demonstrates a hair service on a platform or stage at a hair show. Effective platform artists are usually experienced hairstylists representing an individual product line or company and combine public speaking and theatrics with the ability to cut or style hair.
Specialized Hair Shows
A specialized hair show is specifically geared toward certain types of styles. The World Natural Hair Show in Atlanta, organized by Braids, Weaves & Things, Inc., beginning in 1999, was founded by Taliah Waajid. It specializes in nonchemical approaches to hair treatments and includes demonstrations of Waajid’s hair braiding techniques.
Other, less product-oriented hair shows include the religiously themed In the Beginning God Created! in Rock Hill, South Carolina, or the International Fantasy Hair Show in New England. The latter specializes in architectural constructions made from hair, Styrofoam, fake flora, or other accessories, hosts a competition with prize money, and also acts as a fundraiser—in 2009, money was raised for the New Hampshire Food Bank.
A hair show was the subject of a 2004 narrative film called Hair Show starring Mo’Nique and made by UrbanWorks Entertainment. A competition was also televised during HairWorld: The Pursuit of Excellence, which portrayed the HairWorld Championship (also known as the battle of the bouffants) on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in 2007.