The Belgian town of Boussu has a brand-new festival dedicated entirely to the mullet.

The iconic 1980's haircut is unmistakable – and continues to enjoy un-ironic popularity in much of New Zealand.

Shorn and serious at the front, but grown-out and relaxed towards the back, the mullet is making a comeback, or a throwback if you're feeling mean.

This comeback is at its most visible in Belgium, where the mullet has become a national icon.

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Participants at the 1st Mullet Festival near Mons, Belgium. Photo / Sylvain Lefevre, Getty Images
Participants at the 1st Mullet Festival near Mons, Belgium. Photo / Sylvain Lefevre, Getty Images

Some pundits have already commented that the mullet could be seen as a metaphor for all of Belgium – with Brussels the straight-laced outwardly facing capital that hides the unkempt polyglot of its hinterlands.

One place where the haircut not only lives on but thrives is in the small Belgian town of Boussu.

Held in the grounds of with a local artisanal brewery – the inaugural festival acknowledges the mullet is an "acquired taste."

Mullet Festival Organisers pose on stage with the winner of the Boussu's first Mullet festival. Photo / Sylvain Lefevre, Getty Images
Mullet Festival Organisers pose on stage with the winner of the Boussu's first Mullet festival. Photo / Sylvain Lefevre, Getty Images

On some it is an anti-fashion statement, on others, a sign of a sense of humour.

In Boussu, the mullet is rooted in the concept of "dwanne", translating as "general silliness" in the local Borinage language.

"This cut is a state of mind, a declaration of independence. It carries symbolic weight as an affirmation of self," festival organiser Damien Hubert explained to The Guardian.

"To be honest, I'm not sure that many people ever found the cut very attractive," said Hubert, but it's not a look one quickly forgets.

Winning do: The 'Male Mullet' award presented in Boussu. Photo / Sylvain Lefevre, Getty Images
Winning do: The 'Male Mullet' award presented in Boussu. Photo / Sylvain Lefevre, Getty Images

He says the festival was an unlikely spin-off from a shoot for a music video.

The haircut festival took on a life of its own, and it is hoped will continue to grow annually.

It was estimated that this years' festival attracted 1500 mulleteers.

Elsewhere, closer to New Zealand, the idea of a "mullet festival" has also taken root, but the Boussu event is thought to be Europe's first.

Kurri Kurri, in the west of Newcastle, Australia, holds an annual "Mulletfest" with prizes for the best examples of the haircut. The Aussie event was started as a way to turn heads and raise funds for brain cancer charity the Mark Hughes Foundation.

The Boussu event, which took place last Saturday, was host to sea of nostalgic Rod Stewart look-a-likes. Although many attendees made it clear their trailing cuts were "only temporary".