Travis Kelce has addressed a backlash after a New York Times article credited him with popularising the tapered fade haircut.
The New York Times wrote that the Kansas City Chiefs tight end was behind an uptick in men getting fades, going as far as to call it “the Travis Kelce” haircut. The article reported that Kelce’s specific taper fade has notably been in demand nationwide, with TikTok barbers recreating the styles on their clients.
Some called out the newspaper for crediting Kelce with the style and thereby ignoring the popular style’s roots in Black culture. Sports journalist Jemele Hill went on to post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the article gave “zero cultural context” about the fade’s rise in popularity and origins. She wrote, “When you have zero cultural competency on your staff, this is how you end up with stories like this.”
She continued, saying: “My issue isn’t with Travis Kelce because he didn’t write this story nor has he ever claimed to invent this particular haircut. My issue is with the NYT for giving zero cultural context and failing to explain that fades have been popular for a very long time and it has a significant connection to Black culture.”
The NFL player himself denounced the notion that he was responsible for the fade’s popularity and noted that it was especially heinous that the NYT did not give credit where it was due during Black History Month.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” Kelce told a reporter during a Super Bowl LVIII Opening Night press conference. “And to do it on February 1st to throw me into the wolves like that, that was messed up, man. I don’t want anything to do with that one, man.”
“I got a good fade if you need it though, it’s two on top, a nice high to mid-fade with a taper in the back,” he continued, revealing what he specifically asks for when he goes to the barber. “But I didn’t invent that, I just asked for it.”
This isn’t the first time the outlet was called out for its lack of “cultural competency,” with Hill having previously lambasted them for reporting on Kelce’s pop star girlfriend Taylor Swift “swag surfing,” a dance that has been around since 2009 and popularised by Black students.
However, unlike the Kelce article, the “swag surfing” article acknowledges the dance’s roots and history in Black culture. They cited theNew Yorker’s description of the dance, writing that it is considered “staple at HBCUs,” and is a part of a longstanding tradition of young black people dancing proudly and unabashedly.