It’s become the most popular hairstyle in Kansas City. Meet the barber who gets into the head of football’s best quarterback.
Patrick Mahomes has a standing appointment. Each Friday during football season, at 4 p.m., he arrives at a storefront that reads BARBER in big white letters above the door. This routine began before he was the most famous person in Kansas City, and before some 25 customers a week started coming in asking for “The Mahomes.”
He sits in the second chair on the left, which is where DeJuan Bonds, the owner of Purple Label Barbershop, works. A framed No. 15 jersey hangs above the mirror, with a message scrawled in black Sharpie: “To DeJuan, Thanks for keeping me the cleanest QB in the game!” It takes about 40 minutes to cut Mahomes’s hair, Bonds says.
Several Chiefs teammates are also clients here, including Travis Kelce, who introduced Mahomes to Bonds when he was a rookie. Kelce, Eric Fisher, Mecole Hardman—their cuts don’t take more than 30 minutes. But Mahomes’s is a bit more complicated. Plus… “Having a quarterback, I have to absolutely do my best work every week,” Bonds says. “I put added pressure on myself to make sure that he’s nice every time the camera hits him.”
Mahomes’s hairstyle is basically just a mohawk. But he wears his trademark headband during games and generally isn’t spending a lot of time post-game on his hair before he steps to the podium for his post-game press conference. To make sure that “it’s ready for whatever happens when the headband comes off,” Bonds cuts Mahomes’s hair three different ways: forward, backward and against. Bonds has seven different clippers hanging on hooks at his station, all of which do something different, and he says he uses all of them on Mahomes.
And to those who think that Mahomes has no flaws, just ask his barber about the cowlick on the right side of the reigning MVP’s head. “I’m happy to have him, but in the same breath, it’s the worst cowlick that you can have, in the worst place that you can have it,” Bonds says, both kidding and extremely serious in the same breath.
Bonds has worked with Chiefs players since the late 90s, when he’d set up shop at Arrowhead Stadium on Thursdays, their cut day. He has a similar relationship with the Royals. In fact, the last hairstyle sweeping Kansas City, tied to another team pursuing a championship, was also sculpted by Bonds: “The Hos,” a modified mohawk worn by former Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer.
But what’s special about Mahomes is that he’s the first Chiefs starting quarterback Bonds has had as a client—and he points out that the Chiefs have been through plenty of QBs in those 20 years. “I tell him often enough, I appreciate you still patronizing me, because he’s almost like the GOAT in Kansas City, already,” Bonds says. “It does mean something to me that he is black, and he is a quarterback, and he is the face of the team.”
Bonds’ clientele at Purple Label includes all races, ethnicities and genders. But when Bonds opened the shop a decade ago with two other black barbers, he says their clientele was 100 percent black, limited by the perception that they were only barbers for black hair. Today, he cuts both Mahomes, who is mixed race, and back-up quarterback Matt Moore, who is white.
And the most popular hairstyle around town is one that is best-suited for African-American hair, though Bonds says he’s had clients with all hair types ask for it. “The Mahomes is a haircut that the black kids get, or are supposed to get, but the white kids are like, ‘I don’t give a damn; we’re getting that haircut, too,’” Bonds says. “We even had one guy that went and got a curly perm in order to get The Mahomes.”
This is all a little bit surreal for Bonds, 45, who was not born the last time his hometown Chiefs played in the Super Bowl and has lived through all the franchise’s playoff heartbreaks. Last season, he remembers screaming like crazy when Tom Brady threw what appeared to be a game-sealing interception in the AFC championship game—only for it to be called back on Dee Ford’s infamous offside penalty. Two Sundays ago, watching at home, his reaction was oddly subdued. “Winning was just a shock,” he explains. He had to convince himself it was real.
But the Chiefs’ work is not done this year—nor is Bonds’. The team has set up camp for the week in Aventura, Fla., so Mahomes cannot make his weekly trip to Purple Label. Never fear: The QB is paying for his barber to fly down to Florida in order to keep his standing Friday afternoon appointment. Bonds has a flight back to Kansas City Monday morning. “So,” he says, “I’ll be here for the parade.”