The 'underground hipsters' of Tehran: Meet the men with neat beards, slim shirts and stylishly spiky hair... who risk being arrested if they get a tattoo 

  • Iran has introduced new style rules for men, including a ban on tattoos
  • The country has also outlawed spiky hair and other 'western' hairstyles
  • But Iranians are defying the rules and continue to dress as they please 

With their cool check shirts, low slung jeans and hair coaxed carefully upwards, this group of young men wouldn't look out of place in London's hipster mecca of Shoreditch.

Instead, all of these twenty-somethings live in Iranian capital, Tehran where plucked eyebrows and gelled hair are considered 'satanic' and getting a tattoo means risking arrest.

The striking new photos are the work of French photographer Eric Lafforgue who says, despite the best efforts of religious police, fashionable looks remain hugely popular.

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Breaking the rules: Despite gelled hair and spikes being banned, Iranian men continue to wear them

Breaking the rules: Despite gelled hair and spikes being banned, Iranian men continue to wear them

But embracing hipster isn't without risk - all the more so since Iranian officials announced a crackdown on 'western' hairstyles and beauty treatments.

Although women are frequently the target of restrictive sartorial rules, it is unusual for men to be hit in this way.

The last time was in 2010, when the authorities introduced a haircut code singling out the mullet as being especially decadent .

Now beauty treatments such as tanning have been outlawed, with officials describing them as being a sign of 'devil-worshipping' and homosexuality - both of which are punishable with death.

The new rules were unveiled this week by Mostafa Govahi, head of Iran's hairdressing trade union who revealed the plans during an interview with the Iranian Students News Agency.

Slick: This man wouldn't look out of place in Shoreditch but is risking a visit from the police in Tehran

Slick: This man wouldn't look out of place in Shoreditch but is risking a visit from the police in Tehran

Looking good: Two local men happily show off their hip hairstyles and cool sense of style to Lafforgue
Looking good: Two local men happily show off their hip hairstyles and cool sense of style to Lafforgue

Looking good: Two local men happily show off their hip hairstyles and cool sense of style to Lafforgue

Bold brights: While bright colours are fine to wear, this man's gelled quiff could get him in trouble

Bold brights: While bright colours are fine to wear, this man's gelled quiff could get him in trouble

'Any shop that cuts hair in the devil worshipping style will be harshly dealt with and their licence revoked,' he said.

'Haircuts that show symbols or signs of devil worshippers or those adopted by homosexuals are banned. I won’t allow such wrongful western styles as long as I’m in this position.'

Styles singled out by Mr Govahi include gelled spikes, a particularly popular look in Tehran, and hipster chops such as tousled bowl cuts and 90's style curtains.

Tanning beds and eyebrow plucking are also banned, while men who get inked run a very real risk of arrest.

Nevertheless, as Lafforgue's photos reveal, some men are willing to risk arrest in order to dress as they please.

Conservative: More conservative ensembles are expected, although that doesn't mean no western additions

Conservative: More conservative ensembles are expected, although that doesn't mean no western additions

Cool dude: An Iranian man blends such hipster staples as stripes, glasses and spiky hair into a single look

Cool dude: An Iranian man blends such hipster staples as stripes, glasses and spiky hair into a single look

Tanned: This gentleman is working a Joey Essex style combination of a v-neck t-shirt, deep tan and quiff hair

Tanned: This gentleman is working a Joey Essex style combination of a v-neck t-shirt, deep tan and quiff hair

Staying glam: Women are a more frequent target of style rules but manage to find creative ways around them

Staying glam: Women are a more frequent target of style rules but manage to find creative ways around them

Women too are defying the authorities, with many stepping out in high heels and embracing 'western styles' such as skinny jeans.

Lafforgue, who has also travelled widely in Saudi Arabia, isn't surprised. 'You see a lot of young people wearing whatever clothes they feel like,' he explains.

'Even though they know they might be arrested, they wear what they want anyway. It's a statement and anyway, they are well aware that the police cannot possibly arrest everyone.'

SUDAN, SAUDI ARABIA AND... BHUTAN! INSIDE THE COUNTRIES WHERE THE STYLE POLICE REALLY ARE A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH

When France announced its plans to ban the burqa in 2010, many were outraged with human rights lobbies insisting that no government has the right to dictate what women wear.

Despite their objections, the rule was later signed into law and even stood up to a legal appeal in the European Court of Human Rights last year.

But while the French restriction on the burqa is among the best known examples of sartorial law-making, it is by no means the only one - and the least draconian.

Iran is famous for its clothing restrictions, in particular those that apply to women. Although pale and bright colours are allowed, garments must be loose fitting.

In addition, headscarfs must be worn in public and the concealing chādor when visiting religious sites.

Saudi Arabia has similarly tough rules and, along with requiring women to appear in public only when accompanied by a male guardian, insists that no bare skin should be seen.

Although men can dress more or less as they please, cross-dressing is also banned.

In Sudan, woman who don't wear headscarves can expect to be flogged, as can women who wear trousers in public.

Men, meanwhile, are forbidden from wearing any sort of make-up with those who do being charged with public indecency - another crime that has flogging as the penalty.

Just as restrictive is North Korea which has also outlawed trousers for women and consigns offenders to one of its labour camps should they break the rules.

Hair meanwhile has to be cut in a state-approved style - a law that applies to both men and women.

One country that has an unexpectedly tough dress code is Bhutan, which insists people adhere to its Driglam Namzha system,

The code, which is older than the country itself, stipulates that men should always wear a knee-length robe called a gho in public, while women are required to wear a kira - a type of kimono.  

Retro: A man works this season's 70's trend in an open-necked shirt

Retro: A man works this season's 70's trend in an open-necked shirt

Glamorous girls: A woman combines a pair of daring cropped jeans with sky-high heels

Glamorous girls: A woman combines a pair of daring cropped jeans with sky-high heels

Covering up: Although covered, this woman has jazzed up her outfit with a chic leather bag and sunglasses

Covering up: Although covered, this woman has jazzed up her outfit with a chic leather bag and sunglasses