It is amazing how many people seek to alter their physical traits surgically or cosmetically for reasons of perceived beauty, emulation, trends, fads, religion, rebelling, and/or a combination of psychological and cultural influences. When you really think about it, most races and ethnicity’s have physical traits that are genetically predominate and visually recognizable. These physical traits often become cliche descriptions, but most are truly synonymous and culturally accepted and celebrated as being the specific thing that defines their racial or ethnic origin. The most visually obvious physical traits include eye color and shape, skin color, and hair color. These physical traits don’t change quickly, having evolved over thousands and thousands of years. Of course, Interracial relationships and marriage is changing the face of race and ethnicity through their offspring. Just over the last few generations, a broader spectrum of physical traits and visual characteristics has emerged. We are witnessing a visual amalgamations and blurring of distinctions as never before. Interestingly, as in design and branding, the essence of color is playing a significant role.
I used to think that America was the only place where people really wanted to constantly change the way they look more than anywhere else in the world. During a recent trip to Seoul, South Korea, I was quite surprised to observe something very, very different with upwards of 25% of the woman and men I observed. Instead of the usual raven-black hair associated with Korean and most all Asians, I witnessed a sea of red/auburn color hair. How dramatic it was to see men and woman of vastly different ages with such bright, light-colored hair.
How and when did this come about? Is it a North American or European influenced fad or is it homespun? Is it a fashion trend? Is it in reaction to something social or generational? What does this specific color range mean? What is the significance of red/auburn color compared to Korean’s 5,000 year old history of dark, natural black hair? In our travels around our globe, the Kaleidoscope team will continue to deliver observational thinking on the things around us and consider their impact on people and design.